1) Welcome & Opening Prayer
2) Apologies for absence
3) In Memoriam – Stanley Evans & Bruce Grainger
4) Minutes of the last AGM held on Tuesday 1st May 2019 (already circulated)
5) Matters arising
6) Election of new members
a) Report: 2019 Accounts (already circulated)
b) Adoption of Accounts
8) President’s Report (already circulated)
a) Change in Constitution (see President’s Report)
b) Membership of the Central Council
9) Election of Officers:
a) President (Anthony Ellis – 4 years in post)
b) Vice President (Ivan Howitt – 4 years in post)
c) Ringing Master (Jon Rose – 6 years in post)
d) Secretary / Treasurer (David Everett – 3 years in post)
e) Committee Member (Russell Chamberlain – 6 years in post)
11) Future Tour Programme: Autumn Tour 2020, Low Week 2021 & Low Week 2022
12) The Ringing World – Thought for the Week coordinator
13) Any other business
14) Vote of thanks and closing prayer
Minutes of the Annual General Meeting of The Guild of Clerical Ringers
Wednesday 1st May 2019
The Sidholme Hotel, Sidmouth
The President, The Rev’d Canon Anthony Ellis was in the Chair. The Chair welcomed everybody to the meeting and opened the proceedings with prayer.
Members Present: Tony Ellis (President), Dale Barton, Peter Bellamy-Knights, Stephen Campbell, David Everett, David Grimwood, Ivan Howitt, Christopher Marshall, Jon Rose & Patrick Wooster.
1. A period of silence was held to remember and give thanks for the life of Matthew Baynes & Chad Coussmaker, members who died since the last annual meeting.
2. Apologies were received from: Louis Baycock, Alan Butler, George Cringles, Andrew Davey, John Deakin, Nick De Keyser, Richard Dorrington, Stanley Evans, Andrew Foran, Giles Galley, Paul Hutchinson, Jennifer Mole, Darren Moore, Peter Newing, Judith Pilgrim, Lawrence Pizzey, Caroline Ralph, David Sansum, Chris Stuart, Sally Turnbull & James Vincent.
3. 2018 AGM Minutes – The draft Minutes were presented to the meeting. David Grimwood proposed and Ivan Howitt seconded that the minutes of the 2018 AGM be accepted. This was approved nem con. There were no matters arising.
4. New Members – the following were elected as new members: Stephen Campbell, Max Drinkwater, Carl Melville, Thomas Pelham & Sally Turnbull. The President said that it was great to welcome these new members and urged all to seek out members of clergy who were also ringers. It was suggested that Simon Fisher from Liverpool should be approached. DE to do this.
5. Finance – the Finance Report was circulated at the meeting and was approved without amendment. Thanks were given to David Everett for his work in presenting this.
6. The President’s Report
The President’s Report had been circulated before the meeting.
As reported at last year’s meeting, David Grimwood and Jon Rose had prepared a report on the subject of ringers and church authorities. This resulted in a presentation being made to the meeting of the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers. The President thanked them for all their work in this matter and asked them to give some feedback on how it was received. They reported that the presentation was very well received and it elicited a number of questions. This had also resulted in David writing some articles which have now been published in the Ringing World. It was agreed that a copy of the Presentation should be filed with the minutes of this AGM so that it is on record for the future.
It was also pointed out that the Guild, and indeed any clergy who are also ringers, may have a useful role in mediating in any disputes between clergy / authorities and ringers. It was also said that we need to take note of where good practice leads to the flourishing of ringing so that this can be shared where necessary.
7. Election of Officers – the following were elected as Officers of the Guild.
a) President – Anthony Ellis proposed by David Grimwood & seconded by Ivan Howitt
b) Vice President – Ivan Howitt proposed by John Rose & seconded by Patrick Wooster
c) Ringing Master – Jon Rose proposed by Ivan Howitt & seconded by Patrick Wooster
d) Secretary & Treasurer – David Everett proposed by Chroistopher Marshall & seconded by Dale Barton
e) Committee Member – Russell Chamberlain proposed by David Grimwood & seconded by Ivan Howitt
These proposals were all approved unanimously. Russell Chamberlain & Jon Rose have completed their 5 year terms of office but have agreed to continue for a further year. The President thanked all these people for their service to the Guild and particularly to Jon Rose & Russell Chamberlain for agreeing to continue in their roles.
8. Correspondence – the Secretary reported that as a result of the Annual Mailing he had received a telephone call from Stanley Evans and letters from Alan Butler, Peter Newing, Judith Pilgrim, David Sansum & James Vincent. Summaries of these letters were read out at the meeting.
9. Future Tour Programme – after some discussion the following was agreed.
The 2019 Autumn Tour (30th September to 4th October) will be to south east Wales and Tony Ellis is organising this.
The Low Week Tour 2020 (20th – 24th April) would be to west Suffolk. David Everett is making the arrangements. Suitable accommodation is being sort and details of the Tour will be sent to members in due course.
It was proposed that Sussex/Hampshire or Swindon be considered for the 2021 Low Week Tour (12th – 16th April), however a decision was not finalised until some research has been completed as to where the current Guild membership resides in the country.
Some initial thoughts are that the 2021 Autumn Tour (27th October to 1st October) will be to east Monmouthshire & the Forest of Dean.
10. The Ringing World – Thought for the Week
The President thanked David Grimwood for his organisation of these “Thoughts” and also to all of those who contribute the articles. Stephen Campbell agreed to be added to the list of contributors.
11. Any other business
David Grimwood asked that the details of the Autumn Tours should be sent out in January of that year in future so that people can get the dates in their diaries.
He also suggested a new, more modern form of invitation letter for the Tours be used. One had been designed by Ivan Howitt in the past and that he would supply a copy as an idea.
The President asked if anybody would be prepared to produce a Tour Report for this Tour as he had done it for the last 2 years. After some discussion it was agreed that he would do one for this year and that Chris Marshall would write one for the 2020 Low Week Tour.
It was agreed that the Sidholme Hotel had been a great centre for this Tour and that the food and service here had been excellent. After some discussion it was agreed that the Guild would give a tip for the staff of £150 and that individual attendees could make whatever contribution towards that tip as they thought fit.
The meeting finished with the Grace.
From the President!
Some time ago I wrote to you inviting a response to a survey to which many of you responded. I was very pleased to receive so many thoughtful responses. I was able to conclude that relations in general were reasonably healthy between ringers and Church authorities but there were pockets where there are difficulties.
It has made me think about the future of the Clerical Guild and the part that it could play in the wider ringing community over the next few years. Ever since we have been in existence as a Guild, we have been a group of clergy with families and friends who have met up in Low Week to ring together and recover from the Easter period. Occasionally we have met up through the year usually to lose a peal. Effectively we have been a group that has existed to enjoy ourselves and to support one another. However, in the changing environment in ringing I think there is more that we should be doing and in the rest of this missive, I make a number of suggestions about our future role.
What occurs to me is, that the traditional area for recruiting ringers has changed. Going back fifty years to my youth, ringers were recruited from within the Church, nowadays I suspect that far fewer ringers have a churchgoing background which creates a different relationship between Church and ringers. As I look around my own area, I have the impression that ringers have come into the activity in a variety of ways. In this different environment I would guess that there is not the same understanding between ringers and the Church because the clergy are mostly unfamiliar with the people who ring the bells in their parishes. Ringers without a background in Church life are less likely to understand ecclesiastical matters and the needs of the Church community. While ringers may come from different backgrounds so do clergy. I would suggest that this new breed of clergy have not been part of the church from childhood but are fairly recent converts. They have a tendency to see that those who think and believe as they do are the only ones who are Christian. They see ringers who do not attend church services in a negative light and this presents a difficulty for ringers
Our Guild of Clerical Ringers is in a unique position because we bridge the gap between ringers and Church which is highly significant in this time when new breeds of ringers and clergy are emerging. I believe that there are a number of ways that we can make a contribution to foster harmonious and productive relations in this area.
My predecessor in this office, David Grimwood, has reported that the President of the Central Council has asked him “Where is the Clerical Guild”. The interpretation of that question is that the Council would welcome our membership and contribution to that body. I am proposing that we need to apply for membership because there are very few members of the clergy who are on the Council presently. I have consulted the Guild’s committee members who agree that we ought to apply for membership. At our A.G.M. in April there will be a resolution to make an application for membership of the Central Council. There will be a membership fee but we have the resources to cover that.
Another possible way forward in facilitating good relations between Church and ringers is for clergy to make themselves available to serve on local Guild’s and Association’s management committees. I need to be a more proactive clerical representative on my own local Guild and write the job specification for that role that I have promised. I will rely on a paper that Chris Stuart produced for the Worcester and Districts Association in which he suggests ways clergy could serve the needs of ringers. (With his permission I attach a copy of his ideas.)
There is a need to talk to non-ringing clergy about ringing and ringers. I refer you to the excellent series of articles that David Grimwood with the collaboration of members of the Guild produced in 2019 for the Ringing World. These three articles are on the Guild website under the headings of “Summoned by Bells”, “What Ringers Offer” & “Completing the Circle”. The third of these articles speaks about how Church leaders could relate to ringers.
It would be a minor miracle and a pipe dream if we could have access to those in training for ministry! How useful it could be if we were given an opportunity to spend an evening at a
Ministerial training course or in a Theological College speaking about ringing and ringers.
I wonder whether the time has come to approach the Bishops who ring to think how our Guild could work with them to influence clergy who have little knowledge of ringing and ringers. It has been suggested to me that there are a number of Archdeacons too who are sympathetic to ringing.
I am aware that there are some clergy who are excellent ringers who do not belong to our Guild. They tend to be in full time ministry and the prospect of escaping after Easter to join us on tour are remote. While I think it unlikely that they would join us, I would hope that they could be drawn into our discussions and planning for the future role of this Guild. Would you be able to suggest names of ringing clergy in your part of the world whom we could approach to take part in our deliberations?
After nearly 90 years of existence as a Guild it seems to me that we need to change from being a group that meets once or twice a year. I see the need for the Guild to become an organisation that tries to bridge a growing divide between Church and ringers. I would welcome your response to these ideas and to comment on what I have written.
In our constitution the second clause outlines the purpose of the Guild. I would like to propose that it be altered to say:
“The purpose of the Guild is to encourage fellowship between clergy who are ringers, to promote change ringing and to foster good relations between the Church and ringers.”
Report on our activities in 2019
Looking back at 2019, we met up in East Devon for an excellent tour based at Sidmouth which Jon Rose had taken a great deal of time and effort to organise. It has become our practice to ring at as many towers in the locality as we can. We no longer pick the best towers over a larger area but concentrate on a smaller geographical area. I have found that by doing this we are often pleasantly surprised by little known rings of bells. Again we were a fairly small group helped out by one or two non-clergy friends who make a great deal of difference to our ringing performance. With a smaller number we often find that we can ring as many methods over the course of a week that we did with a larger number.
In early October we had another Autumn Tour in South Wales where we managed to visit thirty-three towers in four and a half days. It was frenetic but enjoyed by a mini bus “load”. We have very few towers left in Wales which a few of our members are yet to visit. Most of these are in the south east corner of Wales so, in the Autumn of 2020 we plan to visit as many of these as we can.
We did not meet up at all during the year to attempt to ring a peal or even a quarter peal. It is now nearly eight years since the Guild rang a peal together even though a number of clergy names appear frequently in the peal columns. However, we are hoping to make an attempt to ring a peal on the Monday morning of this year’s tour in East Anglia.
To date, two long standing members of the Guild have died. Bruce Granger died suddenly in late
September. Because the Autumn Tour was taking place on the day of his funeral, I was unable to attend the funeral but David Everett, our Guild secretary, represented the Guild. Bruce was living in retirement in Keighley where he had been taking services right up to the time of his death. Bruce had joined us on a number of tours in the last twenty years or so.
Shortly before Christmas we learnt that Stanley Evans had died. Only Chris Marshall has been a member of the Guild longer than Stanley and only by a year! For many years Stanley joined us on the Low Week Tour, he also rang a number of peals for our Guild. Ivan Howitt has put on our website, a fitting tribute to Stanley. His funeral was held on 16th January at Westgate on Sea.
In April this year we are visiting Suffolk and will be based at Mildenhall. David Everett has arranged an interesting selection of towers in that vicinity. There is a mix of six, eight and ten bell towers on the itinerary, again we will not be travelling a great distance from our base. We are hoping that a number of clergy ringers based in East Anglia will be able to join us for all or part of that tour.
In late September, as already mentioned, we will be touring the remnant of Wales to mop up as many towers as we can in four and half days! That tour will begin on Monday September 28th at
Newport Station and conclude back at Newport Station on Friday 2nd October.
Many of the Guild members continue to write a “Thought for the Week” in the Ringing World. Robert Lewis who has recently resigned as Editor told me that he saw this contribution to the paper as one of the most significant introductions of his time in office. With David Grimwood now chairman of the Ringing World board I think that it is highly unlikely that our contributions will cease in the immediate future. May I thank all of you who write these “thoughts”.
With this mailing we are sending out booking forms for the Low Week tour. I am looking forward to seeing as many of you as possible in April and may be again in September.