Menorca Chaplaincy Report to Synod 2024

Thanks to Margaret and Trevor Jones, Synod delegates, who prepared this report for our Archdeaconry Synod.

Menorca Archdeaconry Synod Reps report to Archdeaconry Synod 2024

We have been Archdeaconry Synod reps for a good number of years now and we thought that before attempting the annual report for 2023 we would look back at some of our earlier years’ reports.  We were briefly tempted, naughtily, to repeat chunks from past ones and trust no one would notice!  The pleasing aspect is in many ways, the continuity through the years. 

Well, what have we been up to during 2023?  

Following Epiphany and the usual ‘Kings’ activities, mid-January saw the celebration of Menorca’s patron Saint, Sant Antoni.  The customary Blessing of the Animals took place in the town square with Revd. Paul and our local RC Priest, Fr. Alberto together blessing a wide variety of animals.

Later in the month an Ecumenical service was held in Santa Margarita at which were welcomed the Roman Catholic Bishop elect of Menorca, Gerardo Villalonga Hellín, Fr. Alberto and representatives from the Spanish Evangelical church.  It is always special when local Menorquina ‘ladies of a certain age’ attend to reminisce on the days when the building was their local school and wedding venue.

On Shrove Tuesday pancakes were prepared and served in church and church members and local residents attended.  The next day, being Ash Wednesday, at the morning service, the Imposition of Ashes took place and during Lent, a weekly Bible course was followed, accompanied by a simple soup lunch. The World Day of Prayer was recognised by a service in Church.

Easter involved a full agenda of services, including a sunrise beach service.  Being the furthest East, we are the first in Spain to see the light!  Yes, this year the sun shone, magnificently, heralded by a live cornet playing of the Hallelujah chorus.

We were thrilled that the Gwent Touring Brass Band again chose the venue of Santa Margarita to conclude their annual visit to the island and rendered an exhilarating and amusing concert, (being Northerners, we love a brass band!).

Mid-April saw St George’s Day (a Sunday this year) being commemorated by a special service and lunch.  Later in the month, to support Bishop Robert’s appeal for aid for Syria & Turkey earthquake victims, a Eurovision-type song contest was organised and performed by many ‘artistes’ – Revd. Paul gaining second place!

For the Coronation service for King Charles III, we were pleased to welcome back the Very Revd. Dr. Michael Higgins OBE, (along with his wife Margaret), who led the dedicated Eucharist service.  This was followed by a special coronation cake and cava.  Several further happy events took place over the whole weekend.  An interesting Choir concert was performed by a local Ladies Choir – which included a few ‘honorary ladies’ to provide the bass.  

For the Santa Margarita patronal festival this year, we were thrilled that it coincided with the pastoral visit by Bishop David.  He, together with Revd. Paul and local RC clergy was pleased to lead the procession, including the effigy of our Saint along with a local band through the town and to Santa Margarita, where an ecumenical service took place.  The following day Bishop David presided and preached for the main Eucharist.  Whilst ‘on-island’ he was able to meet and chat with Monsignor Gerard and we also hope that both he and his wife, Colleen, enjoyed a short ‘R&R’ whilst with us, including an island tour with Revd. Paul & Kate.

In autumn, the annual Santa Margarita Golf Tournament took place, raising funds shared with a local charity, Club Vidalba, which supports recreational activities for young people on the island who have special needs.  Also at this time the Harvest thanksgiving service took place followed by a lunch.  An addition to the normal CC meetings was an ‘Away Day’, dedicated to ‘the way forward’ for Santa Margarita – work in progress.  We enjoyed an organ recital by the renowned professional organist, Melanie Plumley.  She visits the island annually and not only gives her services free for the concert but generously plays the organ for our services whilst she is on island.   She asked for any ‘retiring offerings’ to be donated to the Santa Margarita Food bank.

All Souls’ service was held and a separate service for Armistice Day was followed by a Remembrance Sunday Service the following day.  For the Advent Sunday Service, we were pleased to welcome Archdeacon David, who preached and presided.   

There was a full, busy schedule of services over the Christmastide including of course, the traditional Lessons & Carols service.  This year we were able to once again enjoy a chaplaincy Christmas lunch. 

Revd. Paul continues his shepherding of this chaplaincy alongside his additional role as Area Dean for the Balearics, Northern Spain and Andorra, in November welcoming fellow clergy from around the Deanery for a Clergy Cluster gathering.  

This year as a church we have endeavoured to strengthen our ‘outreach’.  Other than the donation given to the Syria & Turkey appeal, we have been able to donate towards Christmas food vouchers for the local community, (working with the local Town Hall and Red Cross), and have supported the appeal for aid to Ukraine both with provisions and practical needs plus an on-going collection for Baby Milk.  Through the Archdeaconry link with Peru we made the commitment to sponsor two needy Peruvian students towards completing their education.  They were proposed locally from the church in Peru. These two are now benefitting and we hope to sponsor more as need arises. 

What does the future hold for Santa Margarita?  The world has changed.  Following Brexit and Covid, living on and visiting Menorca has changed.  More people are leaving than arriving.  It is more difficult and expensive to visit.  Our electoral roll number has fallen.  We now have only 3 ‘youngsters’ the rest of us being over 70.  Incidentally, this did give rise to the celebration of a number of auspicious wedding anniversaries arising this year!   Our ‘attendance in person number’ has fallen.  Sadly we have lost a number of long standing church members to age and illness, so funeral services have increased, and for ‘non-church’ people too.  

However, nostalgia is not an option.  There are difficulties and there is swimming against the tide, but the door continues open to welcome and open to reach out.  We are grateful for the choice of Menorca as a venue for Wedding Blessings, a good source of outreach, and the donations are gratefully accepted.  This year Revd. Paul has baptised two children and conducted a thanksgiving service for another.  Monthly church newsletters are now circulated widely and regular fellowship lunches held, as a way to welcome visitors.  Church services and outreach continue. More attend services ‘from home’ – the on-line social media outreach continuing strongly, diligently prepared by Revd. Paul.   

We are grateful to Revd. Paul (with Kate) for his dedication over 10 years of ministry with us and we in turn do our best to support and care for them.  

Yes, reports continue to include many of the same things year by year but each repeat, is in truth, a renewal of service to our Lord, a new expression of love, of new caring and sharing and of new hope.  

The work of Santa Margarita continues seeking new ways of thinking and continuing with trust in the power of the Spirit.  

As the hymn reminds us ‘God is working His purpose out, as year succeeds to year’……..

Trevor & Margaret Jones                                Menorca                                 December 2023

Archdeaconry Synod Representatives

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