UCAN News Update 17:5

Appointment of Isabel Willerton

Julian Mander is one of the Directors of the new UCAN.  With Kevin Lawrence and Jules Morgan he served on the interview panel in July for the new staff member.  He updates us with some great news.

“We are delighted to announce the appointment of Isabel Willerton as UCAN’s new Administrator & Network Co-ordinator.  We had 28 applicants for the post and, at interviews earlier this summer, Isabel was the clear choice for us all.

Isabel has been on the staff of the Trinity Churches in Shrewsbury since 2009, latterly as Office Manager.  She has been a UCAN member for five-and-a-half years. Isabel started work for UCAN in September ahead of the launch of a new website and completely new back-office systems in October.  Planning and implementation meetings involving Directors, John and Isabel are taking place in earnest.

Once we're ready to fly, you'll get a personal invitation from the team to activate your new UCAN account.  So you’ll be hearing more from Isabel and the team before long.  Please pray God’s blessing on Isabel as she takes on this new work from her home in Shrewsbury, and for the Directors as we oversee what we trust will be a smooth transition.  In the meantime UCAN will function as normal and John will continue to handle day-to-day administration for the next month or so.”

Bishop cries, ‘Hurrah for administrators’

It’s not often we read something from a national church leader directly about our work.  So, with his kind permission, I am delighted to reproduce this letter from the Rt Revd Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells, uploaded to his diocesan website on 9th August.

“In a magazine recently I read about a distance learning course being offered by St. John’s College in Nottingham specifically for Church Administrators. (That’s the UCAN module.)  It combines study alongside working, takes about 18 months, and leads to a Certificate in Christian Studies.  Those who have completed the course speak of how not only has it transformed their way of working, but how it changed the way others within the church perceived them and the work that they do.  I found that really encouraging.

All churches are dependent on the skills, gifts and talents of church members offering their time and expertise to help build up the Church.  Valuing, appreciating and developing those God-given gifts is so important.  When Paul wrote to the church at Corinth he said; ‘Now to each one has been given the Spirit’s gifts for the good of all.’ (1 Corinthians Chapter 12) He then goes on to give examples of those gifts.  He mentions prophecy and healing, preaching and teaching, leadership and tongues and many others.  But tucked away in that list of gifts and ministries we read that God has appointed people with the ability ‘to help others and those with gifts of administration’.  Administrators are mentioned in the same list as apostles, miracle workers and prophets.

Although as anyone who has ever been involved in church work knows administrators often are ‘miracle workers’ ensuring that all the necessary administrative tasks of the church are done efficiently and effectively. The word Paul uses for ‘administrator’ is the same word that is used for a pilot of a ship, whose task it is to steer the ship safely through the rocks and the shoals to the harbour.  Administrators seldom stand in the limelight, they work in the background and shoulder the routine but essential work on which everything else depends.

We don’t always know who counts the collection, produces the service sheets, takes the minutes, or staples the church magazine together.  But God knows and without all those people the mission of the church would not go forward as it does.  Hurrah for administrators.”

The Right Reverend Peter Hancock

Bishop of Bath and Wells

Looking back on five years as a Church Administrator

Ann Atkin was Administrator for the Northampton Methodist Circuit for five years until last December and is now a UCAN Associate.  John asked her what were the key lessons she had learnt in that time.

 “From my five years’ experience the following are what I feel I have learnt.  I pass them on to others fulfilling similar roles.

  1. Beware!  The job is almost certainly going to grow.
  2. Don’t be afraid to give your opinion.  The chances are you have a better idea of what is going on than others around you.
  3. If it’s not too disruptive, keep your office door open – it seems more friendly and welcoming that way.
  4. Don’t be afraid to readily admit when you get something wrong – after all we work in a forgiving environment (or we should do!).  This may also encourage others to do the same.
  5. You have a pastoral role to play.
  6. It is a great privilege to pray with your fellow colleagues and Ministers.

This was probably the most rewarding and fulfilling job I have had.”


Employment advice on offer

I have followed Mark Mason’s business enterprise for a few years now and have asked him to tell us what he can offer members of UCAN.  He puts out a (free) monthly e-letter of legal advice which is well worth receiving.

Mark Mason is an employment lawyer based in Belfast, with clients across the UK in a wide range of sectors.  Mark has a keen interest in serving the Church, mission agencies and other charitable organisations with a Christian ethos.

Mark’s desire is to equip the Church to deal with employment law matters in a way that is both legally compliant and reflective of how Christians should relate to each other in the workplace.  He regularly advises churches on the following matters:

-        recruitment exercises (including advising on when a church can say that a role must be undertaken by a Christian);

-        drafting contracts of employment;

-        drafting / updating HR policies that are reflective of the Christian ethos of the church;

-        advising on issues of employment status and entitlement to minimum wage.

For more information on how Mark may be able to assist you, please feel free to get in touch with him (tel 028 9084 8899, email mark@markmasonlaw.co.uk, web www.markmasonlaw.co.uk).

Local Group news

These items are included in each issue to give all groups ideas for their meetings and to encourage others to form new groups.  They are very much appreciated by those who belong to one!

Two new groups:

We are delighted to welcome two new UCAN local groups that have joined over the summer to bring out total to 20.  The new Oxfordshire Group which is just forming is led by Vicky Johnston and Karen Stoddart.  The Bucks/Herts Border Group has been meeting already and is led by Joyce Gledhill.

See https://www.john-truscott.co.uk/Administrators/UCAN-local-groups for a listing of all groups and their Co-ordinators.  The new UCAN website will also have details of all our groups.

Taunton Group

Ruth Cook from St Andrew’s, Taunton writes:

“The Taunton Area group met on 12th July.  Four Administrators attended.

We discussed a variety of topics including workplace pensions, the Parish Buying Scheme and safeguarding.  We also chatted about the roles of paid Administrators and volunteers in the church and where the boundaries can sometimes seem blurred.  A helpful afternoon and it was good to meet up again.”    

BH Postcode Group

Gillian Mannouch, Senior Administrator at St John’s, Wimborne, sent us this contribution from their meeting in July:

“Only five of us managed to meet at St Mary’s Longfleet (SML) in Poole, but we had a really informative and encouraging time.  Gillian shared a couple of key points from a seminar on ‘Intimacy with God in the busyness of life & ministry’ which she had attended the previous week.  A core principle was: God does not expect you to do more than you can do.  God created a day to have 24 hours, so there is enough time. We are just trying to do too much (more than God expects of us).

The main part of the meeting was given over to Paul Eaton, Director of Operations at SML who did a presentation on volunteer management: How do we create an effective and infectious ethos of volunteering?  There was plenty of time to discuss the issues that each of us are facing and we went away challenged to improve the volunteer management at our own churches.

Quick news, reminders and updates

Cutting Edge date for 2018 announced

The UCAN Cutting Edge conference next year will be a one-day event in central London on Tuesday 27th February.  The theme is volunteering.  The speaker is Richard Steel.  Book the date now!  Details will be on the new website this autumn.

Resourcing Gospel Ministry Conference

The next conference run by a group of Administrators working through the Good Book Company will be held at Dundonald Church in Raynes Park, South-West London on Monday 6th November.  Details when available from http://churchadministratorsconference.org/.

Christian Resources Exhibition

The various Christian Resources Exhibitions have always been tailor-made for Church Administrators.  The main CRE has now been taken over by some of its original organisers and is back at Sandown Park in Esher, Surrey but with an autumn date this year from 17th to 19th October.

For full details go to http://www.creonline.co.uk.  Advance tickets cost just £4 for individuals (£8 on the day) or £3 each for groups of three or more.  Tickets are valid for all days and parking is free at Sandown Park.  If you come by train Esher is on a direct line from London Waterloo.

Fraud warning

More of you have been telling me that you were targeted for the sophisticated fraud when you get involved in email correspondence supposedly with your Minister or other leaders which leads to them asking for a CHAPS payment to be made.  All the names will be correct.  Check the sending email address and be very suspicious.


Congratulations to distance learning students

Three students on our distance learning module, The work of a Church Administrator, run in association with St John’s School of Mission in Nottingham, have recently completed the whole course.  They are Gillian Thomson, Administrator at St Paul’s, South Harrow, Ethne Whitlock, Parish Administration Assistant at St John the Baptist, Newport IOW, and Elizabeth Hill, Parish Administrator at Christ Church, New Malden.  Congratulations to them all on a great achievement!

If you are interested in taking the course, do get in touch.  I shall continue to oversee this after I have handed over the running of UCAN to the new team.  We currently have over 30 students and four tutors.

Finally, farewell from me

This will be the final UCAN News Update that I prepare – at No. 49 I’ve just failed to make my 50!

UCAN’s roots go back to 1981 when I set up Administry and, as one small part of that, started a mailing list for the few Church Administrators who were around in those early days.  The first day conferences took place in 1983 when such appointments really were cutting-edge stuff (don’t laugh!).  That grew to several hundred members by the time I left Administry in 1999 though others on the team were running that ministry by then.

Sadly, Administry folded a few years later and after requests I started UCAN in 2009 as an add-on to my church consultancy and training work.  In just over eight years that has grown to over 1,350 members now with specialised resources and events.  But it is only supposed to be a small extra to my professional work.  Handling this size of membership with all the changes each week was proving too much even five years ago when I started a process of succession planning which reaches its conclusion this autumn.

I am thrilled to be handing over to a team of six highly gifted and passionate Directors who will take UCAN forward in ways I have not been able to do.  And the appointment of Isabel Willerton as UCAN’s Administrator & Network Co-ordinator is an added joy.  She will be great!

The handover date is not quite fixed yet – probably in October.  Pray for us all as we meet on 14th September to plan the final details.  Some have asked if I am retiring.  Er, no, but I will be getting back to my core work of championing God’s gifts of organisation to his Church as a consultant, trainer and writer.  UCAN members will continue to receive my bimonthly Resources e-letter.

Thank you so much for all your support, your encouragement, your many emails, and your own passion for this work.  I want to go on supporting you all but from a distance.  Please give Isabel and the new team your prayers and your backing.  It will be a massive job to handle a smooth transition and change over to digital systems at the same time, but the future for UCAN is just about to get a great deal brighter!

Looking back, I thank God for the privilege of sharing in this work of his.  If I had one prayer for the future it would be that, if I have laid a foundation, others will now build on it with care.  But the true foundation for both UCAN and its members’ ministry must be Jesus Christ and his gospel – see 1 Corinthians 3:10-15.  May UCAN prosper on this solid base!

Welcome to new members

Here are our new joiners for July and August.  A really warm welcome to all.

The lists each time are in order of joining.  If I seem to have missed you out or shown anything that is incorrect, please let me know so I can put it right.  Additions and changes after 31st August will be given in the November 2017 Update.  * indicates there is at least one other UCAN member at this church.

Welcome to new UCAN members for July and August

Andrea Forbes, Church Administrator at Hillsborough Parish, NI

Colette Patterson, Church Administrator at Woodlands Evangelical, Derby

Joanne Davids, Finance Office at St Mary’s, Cheadle*

Ali Cook, Church Centre Co-ordinator at Worle Baptist, Weston-super-Mare

Gillian Taylor, Parish Administrator at St Paul’s, Mill Hill, London

Noel Fryer, Administrator at St Luke’s, Market Drayton

Liz Howard, Church Administrator at St Mary’s, Ferndown*

Adele Bouckley, Administrator at Emmanuel, Leftwich, Northwich

Helen Ludkin, PA to Vicar/Parish Administrator at St Saviour’s, Church Harden, Bingley

Ruth Ballantyne, Administrator at Sheffield Methodist Circuit

Sarah Hayes, Operations Leader at Altrincham Baptist*

Sally Jones, Church Administrator at St George’s, Holborn, London

Caroline Dennis, Administrator at St Paul’s, Kingston Hill, Kingston upon Thames

Sarah Westmore, Lay Worker (Administrative Assistant) at Trinity Methodist, Penarth

Julie Firminger, Church Administrator at West Leigh Baptist, Leigh on Sea

Hazel Pullan, Benefice Administrator at Washburn & Mid-Wharfe Benefice, near Otley

Karl Parkes, Centre Manager at St Philip’s, Cambridge

Vanessa Bronnert, Parish Administrator at Holy Trinity, Northwood

Rhiane Horsfall, Events Co-ordinator at Mosaic Church, Leeds*

Chis Lavin, Church Administrator at Rock & Redeemer Vineyard, Dunstable

Those who have taken over from another UCAN member at their church

not always in the same post or with the same responsibilities and some changes may have taken place some time ago but the UCAN transfer has just been effected or there has been a vacancy for some months.

Karen Tabner, Communications Officer at FaithLife Centre, Manchester (replacing Anna Beckwith)

Sonam Langdon, Administrator at St Jude’s, Southsea (replacing Andy Gilbert)

Fiona Forth, Parish Assistant at St Andrew’s, Much Hadham (replacing Angela Kenny)

Julie Haworth, Finance & Operations Manager at St Stephen’s, East Twickenham* (replacing Clare Jeffery)

Mariava Philipps, Central Support Manager at Ivy Church, Manchester* (replacing Dave Challis)

Catherine Proudman, Central Support Team Leader at Ivy Church, Manchester* (replacing Jo Spurling)

Lesley White, Area Co-ordinator at Uttoxeter Area of Parishes (replacing Della Laflin)

Stevey Cater, Operations Minister at Westwood Church, Coventry (replacing Mike Knight)

Rachel Rowell, Administrator at St John the Baptist, Wimbledon, London (replacing Julie Haynes)

Gill Margetts, Office Administrator at St Mary’s, Chard (replacing Anne Plested)

Olivia Cox, Church Administrator at St Andrew’s, Psalter Lane, Sheffield (replacing Tina Powell-Whiffen)

Sian Smith-Keary, Administrator at Barton Church Canterbury (replacing Rob Marfleet)

Amy Kelly, Parish Manager at St Michael & All Angels, Bedford Park, London* (replacing Paloma Sielski)

Catherine Peacock, Administrator & Office Manager at Mosaic Church, Leeds* (replacing Sarah Halpin)

Lynn Graseman, Church Administrator at Bishop’s Stortford Methodist (replacing Richard Ling)

Carole Markham, Parish Administrator at Trinity Churches, Shrewsbury* (replacing Isabel Willerton)

Olly Barker, Operations Manager at King’s Church, Loughborough (replacing Leigh McGough)

Alison Walters, Parish Administrator at All Saints’ & St Andrew’s, Huntington, York (replacing Amanda Lawson)

Bill Murphy, Church Manager at St James’, Clerkenwell, London (replacing Julie Haworth)

Joanna di Somma, HR Advisor at Carmel City Church, Bristol (replacing Steve Lewis)

Claire Boot has moved from St George’s, Southall to be PA at Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff

Members who have moved on from their posts and who are not being replaced or where their successor does not wish to continue the membership

We have lost a total of 115 members in eight years when appointments are not renewed, posts are made redundant, or we are asked to cancel the membership.

Janet Sowter, Parish Administrator at All Saints’, Kirby in Ashfield

Sarah Wilson, Administrator at Witham URC

Next issue

Isabel will put the next Update out in November.  Keep checking the website for up-to-date news as this is the main hub of information.  You will be informed about the switchover to the new website in (probably) October.  Breaking news is given through the daily Twitter feed @UCANnews, our Facebook page and automatic notification emails which come out about once a fortnight or so on a Monday.

This comes with my warmest greetings for all your work this autumn and in the future.

John Truscott