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The following is the full text of the Lent house groups report to the P.C.C. discussed by the council at its meeting in June.


Six house qroups met weekly during the five middle weeks of Lent. The subject of their discussions was the General Synod report 'Christian Initiation - Birth and Growth in the Christian Society'. In the first three weeks the subjects of Baptism, Confirmation and Admission to Communion were examined. The last two weeks were spent in each group drawing up an overall plan for the parish with regard to the whole field of Baptism, Confirmation and Adult Training in the Church in Barton. There was so much common ground amongst the groups that a final meeting for all members was called after Easter. What follows is a summary of the recommendations agreed by all the groups.
1. At least until such time as the Church as a whole takes the necessary steps, there should be no admission to Communion prior to Confirmation, except as permitted by Canon Law.
2. There should be a far deeper preparation of the parents of children to be baptised. This should take the form of joint meetings of such parents prior to the baptism - the provision of a Baptism leaflet for such parents, explaining the obligations upon those bringing children to Baptism, the nature of Baptism, form of application, details of Sunday Schools etc.. These parents groups should include lay members of the church as well as clergy. Parents should be provided with the opportunity to choose a service of thanksgiving for a child, if they feel unable to take on the duties of having their child baptised.

[page four]

3. Baptism normally should be regarded as being held at a public service of the church. There should be an option for the parents to have the present private service. The groups unanimously rejected the idea of the church appointing sponsors for the children being presented.
4. There should be consistent follow-up of the newly-baptised by clergy and laity to secure contact between the Church and the family. This should be undertaken by trained adult visitors.
5. There should be provision made for there to be a service in Church on a regular basis for very young children and their mothers - perhaps on a weekday afternoon.
6. Work amongst young people should receive topmost priority in the church's planning and commitment of resources, both of money, time and skill. This should include Sunday Schools, the training of Confirmation candidates and the provision of groups for each age, combining recreational and educational activities. This will necessitate the willingness of adult members to devote their time to training and carrying out this work, as well as the urgent completion of the new Church Hall at the earliest possible opportunity.
7. Confirmation preparation should continue as at present, with no change from the present age range. Such training should again involve lay members of the Church as well as clergy. It should form part of a continuous scheme through Sunday Schools, Day School and on into groups for young people and adults.
8. In view of the certain reduction in the numbers of the clergy in this area and the probable pastoral reorganisation of the deanery in the next few years, it is vitally necessary that adult members of the Church should be provided with the opportunity and encouragement in adult training. This should begin as soon as possible with training for group leaders, if possible in the autumn of 1973. If practicable, this should be planned on a deanery basis, if necessary it can be organised for the parish.
9. There should be facilities in the parish for Bible Study, discussion groups, adult training groups for Sunday School teachers, lay visitors, youth leaders, etc..
10. The social life of the parish should be reinvigorated by such events as Garden parties, socials, bazaars etc. Where it is thought that these events might detract from the impact of stewardship principles, they could be planned to provide their proceeds for outside charities, missions, etc..
11. There should be adult groups as at present, with provision made for men in a revitalised men's group. Besides present organisations, there should be an organisation which caters for all adults, without divisions by age or sex. (It may be that there should be an overall organisation of which such groups as the M.U. Young Wives, Men's Society, Youth clubs be affiliated within the whole.)

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12. The parish should be divided into pastoral areas of responsibility under the care of adult lay visiting teams. This would need two preliminary steps (1) The training of visitors (2) An overall survey of the parish to assess the Anglican situation in the town, with the compilation of a complete record.
13. Every group was adamant that the prime essential upon which nearly every recommendation in this report depended, is the earliest possible provision of a new Church Hall at St. Mary's.
After considerable discussion by the Council, the report was received and approved in general outline. The Vicar was asked to draw up direct practical proposals along the lines of this report and to present them to a meeting of the P.C.C after the Summer break.


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