The annual meeting ef the parishioners of St. Stephen’s was held last night in the Library Hall. The Rev, Mr. Hands presided, and there was a fair attendance of parishioners. After prayer, the minutes of the last annual parish meeting were read and confirmed, as also a special meeting held in the Templar Hall in August last. The chairman desired all necessary business to be conducted before he should address the parishioners, in order that a late meeting should be avoided. He therefore asked that the churchwardens’ report be read, which was done by Mr. Ward. The report referred to the difficulties the church had experienced during the past year owing to the financial depression, but spoke hopefully of the future. It recounted the history of the year, from which it appeared that there had been a falling off in the offertories this year of Lllß Bs. L3B 12s. raised at a recent tea meeting by the ladies had been devoted to the payment of interest on the loans to the different churches. The ladies’ working society had provided means to supply fittings and gas to the church and contributed largely to the handsome altar cloth which is now on the altar. The parochial and diocesan nominators had separated at their meeting without appointing a successor to Rev. Mr. Paige, and the Bishop had appointed Rev. Mr. Hands to the charge for 6 months. The superintendent of the Sunday school reported a satisfactory state of affairs in the school in regard to attendance, there being 147 on the roll with an average attendance of 120. There was some irregularity, however, in the attendance which it was hoped would be seen to by the parents. The teachers were assiduous in their self-imposed task, but a loss would be sustained in the departure of Mrs. Paige. The superintendent feelingly referred to Mrs. Paige’s long and valuable services, and also to the kind manner in which his own absence from Ashburton in the summer had been filled up by Mr. and Mrs. Ward.
Mr. Boyle moved the adoption of the churchwardens’ report, and also the balance sheet, which, being printed and circulated, w'as hold as read. Mr. Bullock seconded and the motion was carried.
Mr. Grigg moved the adoption of the Sunday school report, and moved that a vote of thanks be accorded to Mr. Fooks, and all who had aided in the work. Mr. Felton seconded, and the motion was carried.
Mr. Bullock said there was a want of books for the Sunday scholars, and a small debt of L 3 odds existed for books, which he would like to see paid off,.and he hoped friends would aid them in this.
Mr. Grigg said he thoroughly valued the work done by the Sunday school teachers, and it would give him great pleasure to pay this amount. (Applause.) Mr. Ward suggested that aid should also be given to the Sunday school at Tinwald; and further, that the Greenstreet school and one lower down should be united.
The Chairman said he would see to the suggestion as time w r ent on. Votes of thanks to the churchwardens retiring, and to the vestry, on the motion of Mr. Charleton, w'ere carried.
After some discussion as to whether the Rev. Mr. Hands, holding only a temporary appointment to the cure, had a right to appoint his own churchwarden — a question upon which there seemed to be a considerable difference of opinion, Dr. Trevor and Mr. W. C. Walker being of opinion that there would be some irregularity in Mr. Hands appointing a churchwarden —a churchwarden was appointed by Mr. Hands subject to the Bishop’s approval, Mr. Bullock consenting to discharge the duties of that office for twelve months.
Mr. Boyle proposed, and Mr. Slmry seconded, “That Mr. Fooks be chosen parishioners’ churchwarden.” The appointment was unanimously made, and Mr. Fooks thanked the meeting for their confidence.
The following vestrymen were then elected :
For the parochal district of Longbeach and Mount Somers : —Messrs. Grigg, Walker, and Wright. For the parish ; Messrs. Felton (28 votes), Ward (28), Gundry (26), Shury (22), Boyle (22), Guinness (21), Jameson (20). Mr. Ward was again appointed Secretary and Treasurer, and a vote of thanks was given to him for past services. Mr. Zouch was appointed Auditor for the year. A vote of thanks was passed to Messrs, Ward, Grigg, Walker, and Peter, for kindly acting as lay readers, and Mr. Fooks, in moving for the vote, mentioned that Mr. Ward had taken about three services a day throughout the year. Votes of thanks were also given to the Ladies’ Working Society, and to Mrs. Paige for many services rendered in connection with the parish generally, the Sunday school, and with the choir, she having acted as organist for a lengthened period. The Secretary was instructed to forward the meeting’s thanks to Mrs. Paige. A vote of thanks was also passed to the choir for tlieis services.
Mr. Poyntz said that a sum appeared in the balance sheet as pew rents uncollected, and he thought some steps should be taken to have the money called in. He thought, too, since pews were let, that those who took them should not be deprived of them by outsiders until at least the voluntary had ceased. The Chairman said the latter part of Mr. Poyntz’s remarks would be seen to by the churchwardens. In reply to Dr. Trevor, Mr. Ward said the blame of unpaid pews lay with those who had applied for them, as almost everyone had been asked for the money. Some of the applicants had come and taken the pews, promising to pay in a day or two, but the money had not been paid. The matter of pews and arrears was referred to the vestry, and it was suggested that the churchwardens and vestrymen take in turns the duties of vergers.
Regarding a proposed gift auction, the date of which had been altered by the late vestry, to June, Mr. Guinness thought a bazaar would be more successful, and it would be most in favor with the majority. He would like to have an expression of the parish’s opinion as to which it preferred. Mr. Ward said the parish had experience of both means of raising funds, and the bazaar was not successful while the gift auction was. Thanks were given to Messrs. Bullock and Fooks for supplying conveyances to the lay readers. Mr. Bullock urged the more hearty giving to the offertories, and pointed out that the vestry had only been able to give L 260 stipend to the incumbent instead of the L4OO as he had been promised. The Chairman said that in regard to the debt that existed, he desired that expenses be cut down as far as possible. In order that the balance of the incumbent’s salary should not be hindered in being made up, he world be glad to accept the minimum stipend. In the course of a somewhat lengthy address he took notice of many items of church work, and made reference to the weakness of the library, which he hoped would bo removed in time. He
hoped to be able to revive week night services, and to help the cause of temperance, of which he was an advocate. He intimated that very soon he ■would have an helpmeet, and trusted that in the interregnum the ladies’ working society would not lack an enthusiastic head. As far as he was able, he would do what he could by lectures, &c., to give a healthy tone to the reading of the people, and he meant to see to the training of the choir, the meetings of which should be opened and closed with prayer. The meeting w r as closed with prayer.
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