Tapton Hill Congregational Church
An independent church founded in 1853 - A member of the Congregational Federation  
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AGM 12th February 2019

Minister's Report

‘If you remain me and I in you, you will bear much fruit’ (John 15:5)

I am a serial forager. I love going for walks and picking berries and leaves that I know I can use and

eat. I enjoy-fruit spotting. So where is our ‘fruit’ at Tapton Congregational Church? Have you spotted it?

On Sunday afternoons we have seen a growth in numbers of those joining us to worship (about 20% growth by my calculations) and we were delighted to welcome Verna as a Church member this year.

 Our special services over Easter, Harvest, Remembrance and Christmas have all been well attended and there has been the blessing of Lego Church (where over 30+ people join together in worship) and Afternoon Tea Church. Thank you to all of you who took the call to issue invitations seriously. It  certainly bore fruit. Our challenge for 2019 is to keep connected and minister to those that come to these two gatherings.

I think we have also seen growth in way that are not numerical. People are taking on new roles and responsibilities; for example, Delia Hope now leads some of our intercessions and Darryl Lomas has taken over as pulpit secretary and put a lot of work into gathering new names. We look forward to greeting new friends as well as old in the coming year. My thanks go to Mary Coates who has looked after this for many years. After the last AGM we instituted the prayer-book for intercessions and it has meant that everyone can bring those they are concerned about into our weekly prayers. Our worship is becoming more participative and the new digital projector has given us options for film, visual aids and new hymnody. While it has taken a little getting used to and experimentation I do thank you for being willing to embrace something new.

We instituted a new constitution this year. Again, it will take a while to follow its implications through and we are still learning. The nominations process for this AGM was a little rushed. We will be better prepared next year. We still have yet to have full a Trustees Meeting- one of the aims for 2019.  

I have been particularly pleased about our level of giving to outside charities. The Advent boxes for Ben’s Centre and the Good News home was simply astonishing. I think we nearly filled them in one week! Thank you to everyone who gave or organised this.

Our Church’s role within Crosspool grows from strength to strength. The idea of a commemorative stone to be a focus for grief, peace and collective remembrance of times of war was warmly received by people outside our fellowship. It is hoped that it will be in place and dedicated on June 28th by Rev Iain Lothian. I will be undertaking a sponsored walk to help raise funds during Lent. We also continue to play our part in the Crosspool Festival. We hope to host a tea after one of the history walks, a talk by a community archaeologist from Sheffield University and a Lego challenge. I will be leading and organising the closing picnic service. Alison McFarlane and I still lead assemblies at Lydgate Junior and I will be spending a day going into classrooms explaining what Easter means to Christians. We are warmly welcomed by King’s Court and Porterbrook. I helped the latter make donations to the SARAS charity and Porterbrook now have monthly worship services. Occasionally, I have a person to visit in connection with the Manchester Road Surgery. While it is good to think about the visibility of the building, I do think it cannot compensate for the visibility of our own folk getting involved with what Crosspool cares about. I have made a mental note to try and get to Crosspool Forum Meetings if I can.

Our links with other local Churches are positive. Lent groups are being planned on an ecumenical basis and the prayer stations event was well attended. The pulpit swap for the ‘Week of Prayer for Christian Unity’ generally went well. It will be great to host an ecumenical service on Good Friday as part of the pilgrimage walk. We joined our sister church Hillsborough Tabernacle for Maundy Thursday and Pentecost and it was pleasing to see a cross-over of congregations at the Christmas services. I think there is more socially we could do together (see below).

I think we are playing our part within the wider Congregational Federation family with Keith Bradley heavily involved on an area and national level. This year we hosted the North East Area Assembly which I think gave both Sheffield Churches a deeper appreciation of what the Area does and could do.

 We had a presidential visit from Rev Martin Spain and Rev Janet Wootton will be leading our Church Anniversary in December. Over the past year I have visited Scunthorpe, Cheltenham and will soon be visiting Bunyan Congregational Church for their Church Anniversary. I am also back teaching on the Federation’s Integrated Training Course. While, I disagreed and felt aggrieved about some national decisions that were taken two years ago, the year away from CF related work was a healing and fruitful time. I have come to the conclusion that it is better to work from within than without and I did make a commitment to the CF in my induction vows and they still stand. I do think that the CF might benefit from a ‘jobbing’ Church leader being in the role and I have always had an affection for local Churches.

 Taking all this into account and your rightful reservations I have allowed my name to go forward for election as CF President.  

It has not all been joy and gladness this year- it can never be. Two dear members, Joyce Schofield and Audrey Pask have gone to glory. Our organ has also reached a critical state of disrepair. We hope to fix the bellows soon but the rest will require grant applications and fundraising. We do need a team to help with this and some imagination because a large sum is required. We must think of ways that our

 music ministry can reach beyond our walls because, while the organ is special to us, it would be self-indulgent if we raised money simply for a favourable worship experience for one hour a week. It must go hand in hand with outreach and giving beyond ourselves. 

It is difficult to sustain a theme and go really deeply into a subject on Sundays because I am not in the pulpit every week. The ‘Up-rising’ series was OK but I still need to develop the link with social media and making connections during the week. Any ideas? Thinking ahead, I want to relate worship and the Bible Studies I lead ever more closely with our lived experience as Christian people in this generation. Our Lent service theme will be on reconciliation and Bible studies on the six marks of fruitful living as Christians. I would also like to prepare an Eastertide social programme with Hillsborough Tabernacle that focuses on ‘joy’- simple activities that encourage delight e.g. crafts, food and a prayer retreat. Do you think this is a good idea?  

My thanks go to the Deacons for their support and all the work they do behind the scenes.

·        Where have you spotted fruitfulness? How can increase the yield even further? 

·        Where are branches a bit barren?

·        Where is there a danger that we ignore a bush laden with fruit in favour of something else? 

Secretary's Report
Looking back over the past twelve months the striking feature is how busy the Church has become 
and how full the Church diary is. It is not solely filled with Church activities, though these are numerous, but with many varying happenings which originate from the Church.
This is positive and I would say that the Church both in a fabric, goings on and Spiritual sense is in a healthy position. As with most small independent Churches we would like a few more souls worshipping on a Sunday, but we have seen a measured increase in this over the past twelve months. It would also be nice to see a lowering of the Congregations age profile, but this is not essential as all are welcome and the wider Church must provide a place for all people and not be
obsessed with twenty somethings.
In this report I would like to recognise the work of Mary Coates as Pulpit Secretary. To book and arrange the Pulpit as she has done for many years via telephone and mail is a great feat, particularly as for many years Tapton was without a Minister so Mary had to fill fifty two weeks of preachers. Many thanks Mary for your sterling work.
A major event in the year was the celebration of Muriel Kenney’s One Hundredth Birthday. This was done with a Cuppa surrounded by family in the Schoolroom and later when Muriel proudly brought her letter from Her Majesty, The Queen. A wonderful event in our Church life

This year a Tapton we unfortunately said goodbye to Audrey Pask and Joyce Schofield, who both passed away in June. Both funeral services were scheduled for the afternoon of Friday 29th June,
which necessitated Suzanne Nockels leading Audrey’s and Darryl Lomas being the Celebrant at Joyce’s

Coming through the doors for the first time this year has seen, Verna, Moira, Doreen, Pat, Bernie, Luciene, Russell, John and Andrew. They are most welcome to Tapton and trust they will enjoy worshipping here with us for many years.
Others did enjoy Afternoon Tea Church and Lego Church which will be mentioned later.

Church Activities

This is the primary function of the Church, be that as in the people or building. It is worth listing the activities to give an idea of what happens at Tapton over a twelve month period, both for the present Congregation and future Congregations.

·        Sunday Services, we are fortunate that in the main these are led by Suzanne Nockels. A Minister with passion and great talent

·        Communion, an integral part of our Faith taken first Sunday of each month

·        Special services, Christmas, Easter, Good Friday, Ash Wednesday, Harvest and the hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War memorial service celebrated in Church

·        A Lent time was spent with other Churches in Crosspool

·        An Afternoon Tea Church was introduced with thanks to Joanne and Andrea. This is to compliment the usual Sunday Afternoon Worship and attracted over thirty people with a number of new faces.

·        Lego Church continued to be popular, we now see one at Wesley Hall. Nice to see our initiatives spread to other Churches.

·        Bible Studies are interesting and thought provoking.

·        On alternate Wednesdays to Bible Study, Bat and Chat nights give fellowship and exercise. It’s good to open the Church doors and people just meet chat and relax.

·        Special meals, celebrating Maundy Thursday and Thanks giving were organised by Suzanne and greatly enjoyed. As was one to highlight Christian work in India. A more secular one was enjoyed at Suzanne’s to celebrate Burns Night

·        Soup and Roll Club continues to flourish with a varied array of entertainment from Elvis to Bingo.

·        More social time is spent once a month at the Crosspool Tavern, were members meet and have a good old natter, hopefully as our congregation grows so will all of our social gatherings.

·        In July our Treasurer and Congregational Federation NE Area Chair Keith Bradley organised an Area Day in Saltaire. A mini bus from Tapton was organised and everyone had a great day out. Thanks to Keith for organising the day.

·        A couple of Coffee Afternoons were organised, these were very pleasant affairs were Tapton opened its doors. A coffee morning was held to raise money for charity with the sale of Joyce Schofield’s effects.

·        An idea ‘borrowed’ from the Congregationalist was the erection of an Advent wall during December. This was a structure of twenty four boxes, kindly supplied by Suzanne’s Dad and decorated by Bernie. The idea being that Church users brought small gifts which were given to Good News Family Care and Ben's Centre after Christmas. This was a very well supported initiative.

·        To round the Year off a very pleasant wander was held from Endcliffe to Forge Dam.

·        The last point under Church activities is to emphasise we are a Congregationalist Church and Church Meetings (CM) are paramount in the life of the Church, we held eleven, including the AGM (summer is exempt). It is of vital importance as the CM is a big part of the Worship and Fellowship of the Church.

Tapton in the Community

 Tapton does have a role to play in the Community with people coming through the doors for an event which shows we are alive as a Church and Tapton members with outreach

·        The Crosspool Carnival was well served with;

o  Suzanne Nockels playing a big part in the organisation

o  The support to the Well Dressing

o  A cuppa at the end of the History Walk

o  Hosting the Pankhurst talk

o  Showing of the Suffragette Film

o  Manning stalls at the Coldwell Lane Carnival

o  John Silverton’s Organ Recital at St Francis Church

·        Collections for the S6 Food bank, walking and helping the CA Walk and collections at after Service cuppas have been some of the Charitable endeavours

·        Harvest Service at Kings Court

·        Harvest and Christmas at Porter brook

·        Dan Eaton gave a talk on Crosspool and Crookes in World War One as part of the 100 year Armistices of World War One

·        The Church has been involved in the planning of a Memorial ‘for all those affected by Conflict’ for Crosspool to be erected in the Church grounds

·        A play, the Disappearance of Eliza Grey, tackling issues surrounding dementia was held in the Church

·        In December the Loxley Silver Band hosted an entertaining evening of carols and other festive music.

·        Tapton Personnel have been active in

o  NE Area of Congregational Federation, of which Keith Bradley is Chair.

o  Care in Crosspool, of which Andrea Birch is Chair

o  Hallam Council of Churches

o  Crosspool Churches Soup Kitchen

o  Lay preaching at local Churches

o  Hallam Churches Pulpit Swap

·        Tapton was involved in joint Services with Hillsborough Tabs and Crosspool Churches

·        Suzanne undertook Chaplaincy duties at the Crosspool surgery

·        Links with Lydgate School were maintained


There are others who use our Church, we see them as partner’s not just tenants

·        Greek Orthodox Church, relationships have developed with the GOC. It is interesting the variety of ideas they have from Brexit talks to schools to dancing to cooking but they are very good fellow worshippers and we welcome them.

·        RASCALS, using the building for Breakfast Pre School Club and After School club. A very good relationship with RASCALS hosting a fab Christmas party and decorating the Church for the Christmas season.

·        Table Tennis continues to grow with two teams in the Sheffield Table Tennis League

·        The Church has also been used sporadically for Karate


Although the people and spiritual side of Church life is important it is also important to ensure the fabric of the building is kept in good order. In the past year the following have been addressed;

·        The Porch was re-designed and brightened with a magnetic back drop allowing for displays to be erected

·        To further enhance the entrance the solid wooden doors are to be replaced with glass ones and a new artistic Welcome sign displayed

·        A video projector was installed in the Church

·        Major repairs to the Organ have taken first steps.

·        The Kitchen was inspected by the Local authority and passed as, ‘good’

·        The Church was inspected by a SY Fire Officer and passed with no major issues


It has been an enjoyable and busy year at Tapton Hill Congregational Church. Everyone has been busy and the Church has progressed on each area.

However the usual concern. Margaret Well’s Church at Intake is closing as they lost key officers and those remaining found carrying on too hard. I am not suggesting this will happen at Tapton but should Suzanne become CF President more pressure will come on those left.

Tapton is no different to many small independent Churches struggling with buildings, administration and less than ideal Congregation sizes. There are lots of great ideas to move forwards and upwards but these take resource, time and money.

It may be we need to look to buy expertise in to move forward, Lego Church, Afternoon Church and Soup and Roll Club are great examples of doing something different. It is by doing something different we will survive and thrive.




Soup and Roll Club 

RASCALS Breakfast Club Monday - Friday 7am to 8.30am
RASCALS After School Club - Weekdays in term time
see diary for more information