Chairperson’s report for 2016-2017
Since our last AGM in May 2016, we have held regular services, apart from in July and August, on the 2nd and 4th Sundays in the month, with visits from an ordained minister to enable us to celebrate Holy Communion, most frequently Rev. Robin Fox from Belgrade. We are extremely grateful to Janet Berković for her continuing faithful service and inspiring sermons. We continue to meet in the basement of St. Blaise’s Catholic Church in Zagreb. In the autumn the parish priest Mgr. Sekelj retired and was replaced by Mgr. Koren. We are grateful for the continued support and positive relationship we have with the church and the priest.
At the end of the school year, in June 2016, we were sad to have to say goodbye to two families who had been attending our services, the Fayrweather and the Snowden families. Two of the Fayrweather children (Sophia and Max) were baptised shortly before they left, which was the first baptism service in a long time. The Snowden family are particularly missed because of their very active role in the chaplaincy – including involvement in Sunday School, on the council, in the women’s Bible study group, and for their hospitality in hosting several lunches and informal services at their home. The chaplaincy made a presentation of Bibles to the children, and photographs of Zagreb to the families, to remind them of their time with us. Mhairi Snowden’s place on the chaplaincy council was taken by Kimberli Weiss, and Daniel Hinšt (who had to resign due to work commitments) was replaced by Eric Williams.
Over the summer the congregation met twice, for a pot-luck lunch at the home of the Marshall family in July, when we were glad to see a former member, Peter Bolton and his wife Jane, and in August for a hike up Sljeme, ending with a restaurant lunch.
Services began again regularly in September 2016 with Holy Communion, but on 25th September both Rev. Robin Fox and Janet Berković were away at the Archdeaconry Synod in Warsaw, and Janet Tuškan was also absent. Since Eric was called away at short notice due to his father’s illness, this meant that the service was in the hands of people who had not led it before. Cam Marshall led the service and Kimberli Weiss organized the music. This demonstrated the strength of the congregation and the fact that as a body we have many gifts, which God wants us to use in His service, and that we are not dependent on any one person. During the year Eric Williams also preached on two occasions, and he and Janet Tuškan also led the time of prayer. On 23 October we had a less formal service than usual, with Kimberli’s help, abandoning the service booklet and piano! Thanks to Kimberli’s initiative, in looking for suitable worship songs online and leading them, we have moved outside the hymnbook which opens up new possibilities in worship in the future. Unfortunately our regular pianist, Maja Zec, has been absent due to illness for several months, but we have been blessed by the playing of Cliff Stark, who has been attending the services with his wife Ros since the beginning of this year.
The next notable occasion in our year was the visit by Archdeacon Colin Williams in November, which coincided with Remembrance Sunday. The service was also attended by the British Ambassador, Mr. Andrew Dalgleish. The council had a very encouraging meeting with the Archdeacon after the service.
Following his visit to our chaplaincy, the Ambassador very kindly invited the congregation to his residence on 11th December for mince pies in the run-up to Christmas. It was a very enjoyable evening, a good time to relax and chat, and get to know one another better in a different context, and also to meet the Ambassador and his wife. The following week we held our annual Carol Service, again as last year using the larger room available to us in the church basement. This involved some furniture removal and decoration, but a suitable atmosphere was created. The service involved the participation of a large number of people – including solo singing and an item by the Sunday School. Thank you to Janet B. for her enormous effort in organizing the service! It was again very well attended, with about 50 in the congregation, and appropriate refreshments, supplied by the congregation, were served afterwards. For the first time we used a Bluetooth speaker for the musical accompaniment to the carols (since there was no piano in the room), purchased by the chaplaincy for this purpose. It proved to be technically challenging but a promising alternative to live piano music.
As has been our custom over the past few years, the Chaplaincy decided to make a donation of 10% of its income over the year to charitable causes. This year we donated 2000 kunas to the Bishop’s Advent Appeal, supporting the work of St. John’s Casablanca with migrants and refugees in Morocco, and 2000 kunas to RUSyrious, an organization helping asylum seekers in Zagreb. A member of the organization spoke to us about their work during the Carol Service. We also donated the entire collection from the Remembrance Day service to the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal (2000 kunas). Giving by the congregation has been exceptionally generous throughout the year, and we are glad that we are able to contribute to these worthy causes. Thanks are due of course to Mark for keeping our finances so meticulously in order.
Over the past year five people from the chaplaincy with leadership responsibility have been working to meet the Diocesan requirements related to safeguarding. This has involved individual on-line training and will be followed up by a two-day training seminar on 31st March and 1st April, to improve our awareness of the issues involved and in order to prevent any unpleasant situations from arising. This seminar will be led by Morgain Holinghurst from Budapest, and will also be attended by other interested parties involved in Christian work of various kinds in Zagreb. In relation to work with children in the chaplaincy, we have introduced a letter and consent form for parents, we ensure that two adults are always present in the room, and those involved have undergone basic health and safety training. From May 2016, Esther Davies has been our paid worker in the crèche, and the Sunday School has been led by Sondra Williams, with the assistance of Kimberli Weiss.
We always enjoy refreshments after the services, as a valuable time for fellowship and building relationships. Miriam Fagg took on coordination of the refreshment rota, ensuring that the burden is spread over the entire congregation. Thanks to her for doing this, and to all those who have provided delicious food over the past year!
In the past few months we have been blessed by the arrival of two new babies, Georgia Marshall born in February to Amanda and Cam, and Paulina Fagg (to Miriam and Joe). Sondra Williams organized a baby brunch for these two ladies, with wonderful hospitality from Young Dong-Hwan and her daughters, who decorated the house for the occasion.
On 12th March we had a visit by the Rev Canon Patrick Curran from Vienna and his wife, Lucille.
Once again we are looking ahead to a time of uncertainty, which is in the nature of this chaplaincy, since it is largely composed of people who are in Zagreb for a relatively short period of time due to their work (embassy, business etc.). This summer we will be saying goodbye to four families – eight adults and nine children (the Williams, Marshall, Dong-Hwan and Fagg families). This will leave a huge hole in the congregation, and particularly in the Sunday School. We will be very sad to see them leave, but we wish them well in their work and lives in the future. We are grateful for the time they have spent with us and for the contributions they have made to the life of the chaplaincy. Those of us who remain can look back to times in the past and remember God’s faithfulness to us in many ways. We trust Him for whatever and whoever He will bring across our path. The chaplaincy is a special group of people, and we have to be prepared to change, adapt, welcome and serve, as we seek to provide a short or long term spiritual home to a wide variety of people, from all backgrounds, nationalities and denominations. We aim to provide a place of worship, fellowship, support and friendship for English-speaking people in Zagreb, whether they are just passing through, visiting for a short while, posted here for a longer period, permanently resident as expatriates, or local people seeking an English-speaking fellowship. Through our web-site, Facebook page and personal contacts, we seek to publicize the chaplaincy, to reach as many people as we can. We hope and pray that with God’s help the chaplaincy will continue to flourish and grow in the coming years.
Janet Tuškan, Chairperson
28 March 2017