The following report has been prepared for the Annual Meeting of the Chaplaincy.
The chaplain, as chair of the PCC, is expected to give a report on the work of the PCC during the past year. In the 11 months since the last annual meeting, the PCC’s work, like the rest of chaplaincy life, has once again been constrained and shaped by the COVID-19 pandemic. Similarly, the whole of the life of this chaplaincy has remained under the influence of the pandemic. PCC meetings have again taken place partly in the church and partly via Zoom, or by use of e-mail where we needed to establish consensus, or have a recorded vote.
Recorded services have been offered every Sunday and Wednesday for 25 months. The PCC has cautiously approached the opening of the church for worship, and while the church is still configured for COVID-19 conditions, this will almost certainly change at some point over the summer. The PCC in fact agreed to do this in principle a month ago. Throughout, we have followed the requirements and recommendations of the Balearic government and the Diocese in Europe.
Maintaining our commitment to provide some sort of supportive ministry to those in need has not been easy, especially since we know that there has been a considerable increase in the number of families in need in Menorca. We have again been able to offer a large number of vouchers for prepared meals at Christmas, to contribute again to the bulk purchase of food in conjunction with the Rotary Club of Menorca, and to offer financial and material support in various ways to those affected by the war in Ukraine.
As Area Dean, I have been pleased to welcome three new chaplains to positions in Palma and Puerto Pollença in Mallorca, and in Ibiza. There was an in-person gathering of clergy in Menorca last October, in addition to regular Zoom meetings.
The forthcoming year will continue to present us with challenges. We have now been advised that we cannot require people to wear masks in church, but equally, neither can we suggest that they should not be worn; we are urged to be respectful of those who are vulnerable. We have been singing behind masks in church, and now we can sing without them. Perhaps we will soon return to singing hymns on our own, without the crutch of recorded choirs. We can now consume wine with our communion bread, should we wish to do so, but many are still wary of this. Last year I quoted the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, who suggested that we should be asking ourselves four questions as we move ahead. What have we lost that we wish to regain? What have we lost that needs to remain lost? What have we gained that we ought to retain? And what have we gained that we need to relinquish, because it has only temporary benefit? These questions are just as pertinent today.
There are some challenging times and questions ahead of us. The full effect of Brexit has been masked by the pandemic, and only recently have issues such as 90 day limits within the Schengen area started to affect non-residents. Will this affect the viability of the worshipping community in Menorca? Since Dianne Carter relinquished her responsibilities for family and children’s ministry, there has been virtually no replacement, again affected by COVID-19. The safeguarding requirements for prospective leaders of this ministry are not trivial. The preparation of online worship, which has extended the reach of our chaplaincy community, eats up time that might be directed elsewhere, such as pastoral care. How do we balance priorities? While some of these questions rest on the chaplain, the PCC, as representatives of the chaplaincy at large, have responsibility to consider them. On the positive side, there is a very healthy list of wedding blessings scheduled for this year, which benefits both the financial health of the chaplaincy, and enables us to connect to a larger community.
Kate and I are now approaching the completion of nine years at Santa Margarita. We continue to be thankful for the spirit of care and nurture that we have experienced. I know that we are fortunate, since this is not the case in all chaplaincies within the Diocese in Europe. Thanks be to all who contribute to our well-being in many different ways.