The year 2012 saw St Anne’s Church celebrate its 100th Anniversary. It was built as a gift of Sir John Robinson, then of Worksop Manor, to the parish and was consecrated on 24th November 1912 by the then Bishop of Southwell, Sir Edwyn Hoskins.
It is built mainly of stone quarried at Darley Dale. Its foundations were laid in the year of the Coronation of King George and Queen Mary, carvings of whose heads adorn the north arcade of the nave of the building. The Robinson family have a long history with the church and in 1922 Lady Robinson paid for the enclosure of the Lady Chapel in memory of her mother and sister, these being dedicated on the 10th Anniversary of the building. Since then few changes have been made to the inside of the building. A new organ was installed in 1999 and more recently a number of pews have been removed from the west end of the church to make way for a servery and disabled toilet facility. Space has been created in the form of a carpeted area, which incorporates the church’s logo, to enhance the welcome people receive when they enter the church. An inner glass porch installed inside the main porch also gives the building a more open and welcoming feel.
Concerted efforts have been made to preserve the fabric of the building over the years. In 2011 following a significant number of lead thefts to the north and south aisle roofs, permission was obtained to replace the remaining lead with terne coated stainless steel. It is hoped that this will deter future attempts at theft and ensure that the building remains protected from the elements. In addition the guttering and downpipes have been replaced with cast aluminium again in an effort to ensure the building’s longevity.
The parish of St Anne’s was originally encompassed within the Priory Parish. It began out of a Mission Room in Castle Square at the top of Hill Street, which in the early 1900s was a densely populated area. The first vicar, Revd Hamish Gray, held services there until the church was built and consecrated. Since then the church has continued to be the focus of the spiritual life of the parish and has played an active part in the social life of the community too. Until the Second World War, the church supported a mission church in the northern part of the parish, which met in Crown Street School, now Redlands School.
In the past 25 years the parish has grown significantly with the building of new houses on the St Anne’s estate to the west of the parish and also to the Beaumont Rise estate to the north. The church now serves a population of approximately 6500 people which roughly speaking covers the Worksop South electoral ward.
Road links over the past 25 years or so have also changed for the better. When the A57 Worksop By-pass was opened in 1986 it split part of the parish, though this has made Newcastle Avenue, on which the church stands, into one of the main roads to Worksop town centre. As a result the church is easy to find as it stands within a matter of 200 metres from the main A57 by-pass roundabout.
While ‘church’ is a word often used to describe the building, it is actually the word used to describe the people who attend. Over the past 100 years many people have been part of the church at St Anne’s and it continues to touch the lives of people who have not only been regular attendees but also those who have come for baptisms, weddings and funerals.
Services up until the 1970s in church were from the Book of Common Prayer. Indeed we continue to use the Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion service at our 8am Sunday service each week. In days gone by the service pattern was different to what it is today, with a 9.30am Family Communion service being followed by an 11am service of Matins. Today we hold a Family Communion service at 10am every week, apart from the first Sunday of every month when we hold an all-age Family Service to which we welcome our uniformed organisations. The Family Service appears to have stood the test of time, with this pattern having being adopted, from what can be gathered, around the late 1940’s. A 6.30pm service of Evensong was also a feature of the church for many years, but as a consequence of diminishing numbers the PCC decided to discontinue this service a few years ago
The 10am Family Communion service has witnessed the most changes, not only in its start time, but with the introduction of the Alternative Service Book in the 1970s. In 2000 the Church of England authorised the use of the Common Worship service book, which is a rich resource of contemporary liturgy, and this is predominantly the liturgy that is now used. This service was originally a Choral Eucharist holding with the strong choral tradition that St Anne’s had. Sadly in more recent years the choir numbers have dwindled and there is at present no choir as part of the church. This service is considered to be the main church service each Sunday and is generally always well attended.
When St Anne’s was first consecrated it could boast of a large Sunday school with at one time 700 children enrolled! As the years have passed and the culture in which we live having changed beyond recognition to that of a hundred years ago, it is perhaps not surprising that habits of going to Sunday school have changed too. That said, St Anne’s continues to hold term time groups for all ages between 0 – 17 under the umbrella of ‘Light Club’ and this continues to operate as the result of the dedication and commitment of a group of willing volunteers. At one time St Anne’s was also renowned for its strong Youth Fellowship. The links with our uniformed organisations remain strong with Guides, Brownies and Rainbows continuing to be well supported and meeting weekly in the Church Hall. The Scouts, Cubs and Beavers continue to meet in the Scout Hut, which was built during the last 25 years on Slack Walk within the parish and again those groups are well supported.
Some groups cease to exist and others are reborn. One of these is the Bell Ringing Team. Having started originally in 1984, by the mid 2000s the team had stopped meeting. A number of people have since come together and started ringing again and we now have our own team for ringing at weddings and on other occasions. The age of the team ranges from 10 to 70+ and meets weekly, alternating ringing between St Anne’s and The Priory. This is a good example of collaborative ministry, which is something the church as a whole is encouraging in these changing times.
The Church Hall, which was built and opened in 1989, has continued to be a great asset to the life of the church. As well as being a place where the church has met over the years to celebrate socially together, it has also become a valuable resource to the wider community for which it was primarily intended. Many different groups use the hall on a regular basis for their meetings. It does of course have the benefit, as does the church, of having on-site parking facilities, which seem to be a prerequisite for most groups meeting today given that most people enjoy the benefits of having the use of cars unlike 100 years ago! Among the groups associated with the church and who use the hall are a thriving Mother & Toddler Group and a Luncheon Club, which meets monthly.
Thinking of children, the church continues to enjoy a strong working relationship with the school and the headteachers and staff who have worked there over the years. The current vicar and curate lead acts of worship both in the school and also in the church during term time. Of course, being a Church of England Voluntary Aided school, the church has an active role to play in the governance of the school and continues to be well represented on the School governing body, helping to support, encourage and maintain the Christian ethos of the school. Pupils are also encouraged in Year 6 to think about their faith more deeply and part of this has involved those who have wished, being confirmed or admitted to receive Holy Communion.
In recent years as the church has changed, the focus of attention has been to encourage members of the church to become committed disciples of Jesus Christ. The PCC has, with the wider involvement of the church, drawn up its mission plan that it reviews regularly. Its most recent focus has been on ‘Mission’, ‘Prayer’, ‘Discipleship’ and ‘Giving’ as part of an overall aim of ‘Seeking to introduce people to Jesus’
Under the heading of ‘Mission’ the church considers its ongoing worship and how it engages with the wider community. One way in which the church continues to do this is through the distribution of its monthly parish magazine, ‘Parish News’. We have also sought to grow the church by running regular nurture courses and have run an annual Alpha Course for the past 5 years. These courses have been successful in encouraging a number of people to think seriously about the Christian faith. Under our aim of ‘Discipleship’ some of them have gone on to join the network of groups which meet regularly in people’s homes to pray together and study the word of God in scripture. The number of groups currently meeting is seven.
The church has recently established a Prayer Development Group which has responsibility for encouraging and teaching people about the need to pray often. Part of this has lead to a prayer diary being included as part of the parish magazine asking people to pray for each other regularly during the month. Prayer is also now offered weekly before and after our 10am service for anyone who wants it. As a continuing part of the church’s pastoral concern for other people we now also have a dedicated ‘Visiting Group’. This consists of a number of people who visit people in their homes or on occasion in hospital to provide support through prayer and being someone to talk to. The responsibility for this is in no way confined to just a few people, but is encouraged among the whole church as we seek to meet the needs of those within our community for whom it might not be possible to take a more active role in the church.
During the course of the past 100 years St Anne’s has had eight vicars. The current vicar, Revd Simon Cash has been in post for eleven years having taken over from Revd Frank Beech who had served the parish for some twenty years before his retirement at the end of 2003. Revd Cash is also vicar of the parish of St Mary, Norton Cuckney and the extra parochial parish of St Winifred’s, Holbeck on the Welbeck Estate. During its lifetime the parish has also been home to a number of curates and at one time it seemed the norm for there to be a curate in post at St Anne’s. As clergy numbers have declined however as the years have gone by, the appointment of a curate to the parish has not always been possible. We are however fortunate in that we have Revd Luiz Lima and his family here as he serves as curate.
In recent years a greater emphasis has been placed upon the involvement of lay people in the church. The diocese (which changed its own name from the Diocese of Southwell to the Diocese of Southwell & Nottingham only quite recently) is encouraging lay people to train for ministry in differing areas. When Revd Cash was appointed in 2005 to St Mary’s, Norton Cuckney and St Winifred’s, Holbeck, Brian Little, a Lay Reader at St Anne’s was appointed to these two churches as Lay Reader with Prime Pastoral Responsibility. In the subsequent period two people, Ray Shaw and Rosie Mitchell, both successfully completed their training and were appointed as Lay Readers to St Anne’s. Since that time a further three Readers have been licensed to the parish, Nigel Stones, Louise Bearder and Christine Greeve.
Of course it has to be said that the church would not have been able to survive during the past 100 years without the generosity of its members. However as the financial demands from the diocese have increased (Parish Share is currently £56500p.a compared to £14645p.a in 1988), sadly the gifts of the people of St Anne’s have not kept pace. It relies upon its members to give sacrificially to support the church especially when as Christians we are called to put our trust in God for all things. Nevertheless St Anne’s is blessed that it does benefit from the gifts from the Garth Trust, a Trust Fund established by a late parishioner, Mr Alan Godley, to benefit St Anne’s Church and its associated organisations. St Anne’s has also over the years been the recipient of a number of bequests, which are evidence of the high esteem in which people have held the church and the part that it has played in their lives. Regardless of whether the church has been able to cover its running costs, it has always sought to help others. It continues to support the work of US (United Society for the Propagation of the Gospel), as it has done since the late 1940’s, with a project involving St James’s hospital, Mantsonyane, Lesotho. It has also regularly supported other overseas aid agencies as well as local charities.
So what of the future of St Anne’s? St Anne’s continues to have a significant role to play in the future of the Church of England in Worksop, although it will not be without its challenges. The Church of England is going through a period of change, not least because the number of people coming forward for ordination is falling and there is forecast to be a large rise in the number of clergy retiring by the year 2020 leading to a shortage of clergy overall. The number of church members continues to grow slowly, and our emphasis must be on growing even more disciples. We are thankful to God for all that he has done at St Anne’s in the past and are excited about the plans that he has for the future, a part of which is to explore the possible reordering of the main body of the building.