Chairperson’s report for 2015-2016
This past year, since the last AGM in May 2015, has again been extremely rich and active in many ways. The year has been marked by several important events for our chaplaincy, as well as a significant increase in the size of the congregation and, as a result, many new activities. The character of the congregation seems to change with the passing years, and we are very glad now to have several families with young children with us, several from the American Embassy, and one from the Korean Embassy, and one member from Japan, as our most distant home country, alongside those of us who are here “long-term”.
We have continued to meet regularly on the 2nd and 4th Sundays in the month, apart from in July and August. The chaplain from Belgrade, Rev. Robin Fox, has visited us regularly to provide Holy Communion (Eucharist), for which we are extremely grateful as we know that a day-trip from Belgrade to Zagreb is not an easy enterprise. We have also had visitors from Janet Berković’s home church in Bolton (Rev. Vincent Whitworth and Rev. Alan Saunders) and even from as far away as New Zealand (Rev. Ivica Gregurić). As before, on the Sundays when we do not have an ordained minister amongst us, Janet Berković has served us by leading the service and preaching. We greatly appreciate her gifts in this area. Shortly after the last AGM a small group from Zagreb went to Vienna to attend the confirmation of Audrey Bucknor at the end of May. This was the first confirmation of a young person from our chaplaincy for several years, so it was very special. The end of the year was marked by an outing to the Kezele family farm in Šumećani not far from Zagreb, which was a lovely day, a time to get to know one another better and enjoy the good food and country surroundings. At the end of June we held our final service in St. Joseph’s chapel at the Jesuit seminary at Jordanovac, which was in many ways a sad moment, but we are very grateful for the use of the chapel for 15 years, and the hospitality shown to us by the Jesuit seminary for so long. We looked forward with interest to the autumn, and to our new location, in the basement of the Church of St. Blaise (sv. Blaž) in Prilaz Gjure Deželića – certainly a more central and easily accessible location, but without the charm and atmosphere of St. Joseph’s.
Over the summer months we met at the home of Connor and Mhairi Snowden again, and then on 13th September held our first service in the new location at St. Blaise’s. The location involves quite a bit of furniture removal before and after the service, and the first service was interrupted by the church choir wondering why we were in their room. The entire congregation quickly moved to the neighbouring room, and we continued from where we left off! All in all, it has taken us a while to get accustomed to the new premises, but we have found that it is good to have several rooms available, so the children have a separate room for Sunday School, and another space for younger children, and it is good not to have to climb 3 flights of stairs. Parking is sometimes an issue, but all in all, we are very grateful to Mons. Sekelj and the church for their hospitality. It would appear that the greater accessibility of the location may be one factor in the growth of the congregation, and perhaps the less formal atmosphere suits the younger members.
A significant event of the past year was our hosting of the Archdeaconry Synod, held at Lužnica, near Zagreb in September 2015. This was an opportunity for us to welcome representatives of other Anglican chaplaincies from all over the Eastern Archdeaconry from as far north as St. Petersburg, down to Istanbul. Many of us attended the communion service at Lužnica on the Sunday morning, as well as other meetings, and enjoyed mingling with the guests. It was good to gain a wider perspective of the work of Anglican chaplaincies and hear about the wide range of situations and people involved in such a variety of locations. Daniel Berković led Bible Studies from the Psalms and Canon Phil Potter from England shared about new forms of ministry in the Anglican Church (Fresh Expressions). For us the most important thing was the licensing of Janet Berković as a Reader in the Anglican Church, by the Bishop of Europe, the Right Rev. Robert Innes. We congratulate Janet on her licensing and look forward to many more years of her ministry amongst us! Rev. Vincent Whitworth from Bolton also attended the Synod and took the service for our chaplaincy at St. Blaise’s on the Sunday afternoon afterwards.
One result of the larger congregation has been the increased involvement of many members in the life of our community. The Williams family (Eric and Sondra) very kindly came up with the idea of organizing a monthly “pizza party” on the third Sunday of the month, to provide another opportunity for the congregation to meet in a less formal atmosphere. This has been very well attended and greatly appreciated. The Williams also hosted a post-Christmas gathering. The Snowden family has also hosted gatherings on several occasions, including a pizza party, and a special service on Palm Sunday, with communion celebrated by Rev. Alan Saunders – who also played his trumpet during the worship. The Bucknor family kindly hosted a new venture at their home – a meditative service to mark Good Friday.
The women’s Bible study group has continued to meet weekly, providing an opportunity for fellowship and deepening friendships for many women in the congregation. Six women regularly attend. We ladies enjoyed a lovely Korean meal out in February, taking the opportunity to celebrate Janet Berković’s 60th birthday as well. On Sundays there is a regular Sunday School, run by a few of the parents, and due to the increase in the number of younger children, we decided to employ Esther Davies (Mark’s daughter) to run the crèche during the service, thereby enabling parents to enjoy the service without having to worry about their young children.
We held our usual “special” services this year: the Remembrance Day service, attended by the British Ambassador, Ian Cliff, who kindly invited some of us to his residence after the service, and the Carol Service, for which we moved into the larger room in the basement of St. Blaise’s. The room proved to be almost too small for the record number of people who attended (60), which was a great joy. It took us a while to set up the room, arranging the chairs and decorations, but the atmosphere was joyful and the singing raised the roof. Seasonal refreshments were of course served afterwards.
Another new venture, which is still very much in the early stages, is a move to using more contemporary styles of music in worship. We are grateful to Kimberli Weiss and Audrey Bucknor for their interest and involvement in this and are looking forward to learning more new songs.
Members of the congregation are also regularly involved in bringing refreshments for our fellowship time after the services, and Mhairi Snowden has organized the rota to lift the burden on Mark Davies, who continues however to supply us with coffee and tea, for which we thank him. It is always interesting to see what different people bring each time!
The larger congregation has resulted in increased giving. Members have been extremely generous over the year and in addition to covering our running costs, we have been able to share some of the money with other causes, for a centre for help in the home (in Croatia), for instance, to the Croatian Red Cross for refugee relief, a major feature of the past year, the British Legion Poppy Fund Appeal, as well as making a contribution to the Belgrade chaplaincy, to assist in their support for Rev. Robin Fox, since we also benefit from his ministry.
Our church family has also grown with the addition of the first baby to the congregation for a very long time – baby Nicholas was born to Joe and Miriam Fagg and was welcomed to our fellowship earlier this year.
As we approach the summer again, we look forward to another outing to end the year, the departure of some of our number (notably the Snowden family, who will be greatly missed), and a different pattern of activities through the summer months. We are grateful to God for His continuing provision and grace towards us, and we seek Him to know how to serve Him and His people better in the future.
Our chaplaincy council has met regularly throughout the year, to assess and steer the life of our congregation. It is now time for Daniel Hinšt, who has served for three years, and Mhairi Snowden, who is leaving, to step down. We want to thank them for their invaluable input and welcome the new members who will be elected today – Eric Williams and Kimberli Weiss.
In response to a worldwide situation, the Diocese of Europe has recently produced a Protocol on Safeguarding, which is relevant to us in terms of our children’s ministry. We wish to affirm our acceptance of the Protocol and are working to improve and enhance our safeguarding strategies, so that all children and their parents may have full confidence in our integrity. Janet Berković is the chaplaincy’s Safeguarding Officer and all queries should be addressed to her.
It would be impossible to run a chaplaincy like ours without the involvement and selfless giving of so many, whether you are here for a shorter or longer time. We are constantly aware of the need to adapt and improve, and are grateful to all of you for your active participation.
Chairman’s report for 2014-2015
A great deal has happened since our last AGM in June 2014, some of which was planned and some not!
We have continued our regular services on the second and fourth Sunday of the month, with regular visits from Rev. Robin Fox, chaplain in Belgrade, to enable us to take Holy Communion. On 13 September 2014 we were privileged to be able to attend a service of Holy Communion at the British Ambassador’s residence, led by the Bishop of London, the Right Reverend and Right Honourable Richard Chartres, whilst he was visiting this region. We are grateful to the British Ambassador, David Slinn for allowing us to use his residence for this occasion. In addition we were visited by Revd. Alan Saunders from Janet Berković’s home church, St. Peter’s Halliwell, Bolton, UK, for the Christmas Carol Service.
Not long after last year’s AGM, from 27 to 29 June 2014, a small group (four) of us travelled to Belgrade for the weekend to visit the Anglican Chaplaincy there at St. Mary’s. We were overwhelmed by the generous and warm hospitality of the members of the chaplaincy there, and it was a great joy to meet our fellow Anglicans and see the beginning of what we hope will be stronger and more personal ties. We were pleased to receive a return visit from a group of 8 from St. Mary’s for the weekend of 24-26 April 2015, when a good time was had by all.
As usual services were not held during the summer months of July and August, but we did meet a few times at people’s homes, including a service of communion at my home (Janet Tuškan) led by Rev. Robin Fox, and lunch at the Snowdens’ residence. We are enjoying these less formal gatherings as a different form of fellowship and an opportunity to get to know one another better. We are extremely grateful to the Snowden family for inviting us to their home on several occasions during the year, and their generous hospitality. We hope that this kind of gathering will continue and that other forms will also develop, such as perhaps outings or picnics over the coming summer.
The autumn began with a considerable increase in our congregation with the arrival of several new families, mainly connected to the American Embassy, but also others from the business world and the Korean Embassy. This included a significant number of young children, leading to the need and desire for “Kids’ Church”, which has been very capably organized and run by Sondra Williams, with the assistance of Mhairi Snowden, during the services. We are overjoyed at this new development as it has been many years since there have been any young children attending the chaplaincy at all.
The autumn also brought sad news, with the death of Janet Berković’s mother, meaning that Janet was absent from Zagreb for a while. As a result the organization of the services was left to other members of the congregation. After Janet returned to Zagreb she unfortunately suffered a serious fall, was hospitalized for a week and spent some time recovering, meaning that once again the leading and organization of services fell to other members. It was a challenge for us, but also a good experience and showed that it is possible to spread the load and to use the many gifts to be found amongst us – which enrich our experience and open up new possibilities in the services.
The increase in the size of the congregation has also led to re-thinking the organization of refreshments (which are served regularly after each service) and they are now provided by different members on a rota basis.
The church council, consisting of Janet Berković, Mark Davies, Janet Tuškan (chair), Mhairi Snowden and Daniel Hinšt met regularly through the year to discuss and decide on matters of importance for the fellowship.
Another result of the growing congregation is a significant increase in giving. Since we have a policy of donating 10% of our collections to charity, this year we gave 1,545 kunas to the Bishop of Europe’s Lent Appeal, to support a home for unaccompanied refugee minors in Greece.
A highlight of the year was once again the Christmas Carol Service, held on Sunday 14 December, led by Revd Alan Saunders from St Peter’s Halliwell, who apart from preaching also accompanied the carols on his trumpet. As usual the service was very well attended by many expatriates and Croats who do not attend regularly (including the British Ambassador and his family and other Embassy staff). We also enjoyed seasonal fare in the form of mince pies and mulled wine after the service.
At the beginning of the new academic year we were informed that we would no longer be able to use the chapel of St. Joseph, which we have been using for the past 15 or so years, for our services, since this had always been a “temporary” arrangement. This led to prayer and a search for a new place to meet, somewhere closer to the city centre, and without so many stairs, which have been a hindrance for some in attending our services. By God’s grace we have been offered the use of rooms in the basement of the church of Sv. Blaž (St. Blaise) in the centre of Zagreb, which we have accepted and are overjoyed since these premises seem to be ideally suited to our needs, being easily accessible with plenty of parking spaces in the immediate vicinity. There is space for the service, for refreshments and for Kids’ Church activities. We are thankful to Mons. Sekelj for his willingness to receive us in the spirit of ecumenism.
Looking forward, at the end of May a group will be travelling to Vienna to attend the confirmation of Audrey Bucknor. It has again been a few years since anyone has been confirmed from our chaplaincy, so this is again a cause of great joy.
We are also looking forward to the Archdeaconry Synod which will be held in Zaprešić near Zagreb in September this year. It will be our privilege to be the host fellowship for this occasion.
So, as we move towards the end of this academic year, we can look back with gratitude and amazement on all that God has been doing amongst us and around us during that time. It has been a busy and rich year, not always easy, but God has been faithful to us and has met us at every point of need.
10 May 2015