FOREWORD FROM THE ARCHDEACON OF BERKSHIRE
The parish of Bray is a delightful Thames-side settlement which has enjoyed a long period of stable ministry and gentle growth, and is now looking to the future. The parish church is beautifully looked after; the central worship is supported by enthusiastic and talented musicians; the ministry to schools and nursing homes is well established; the gifted Lay Funeral Minister has a much appreciated ministry; there is much to enjoy and celebrate. However, the PCC recognises that there are challenges ahead. A large increase in population brought about by new housing is a reality in the next few years. The church has many activities designed to reach out to people, but needs help with looking strategically at how its energy can be used more intentionally for missional effect. There is a need to encourage and enable the congregation in using their giftedness for the Kingdom. Lay involvement in many aspects of the church’s ministry will be enhanced and developed through good, relational leadership.
The PCC is keen to (have welcomed) a vicar who will work with them to build teams and develop the laity. The current service pattern and provision may need to change; establishment of a pastoral team would enhance the church’s offering to the community; setting up a church office would enable smoother administration. There is a clear job to do here, in a parish where the pace of change will need a sensitive and deft approach. Bishop Steven is calling the Diocese to consider deeply what is means to be a more Christ-like Church, a Church characterised by being more contemplative, compassionate and courageous.
The Venerable Olivia Graham
SUMMARY:. Our previous incumbent, the Rev. Richard Cowles, retired in September 2017 after 9 years ministry in the parish. We now look forward to the next chapter in the life of Bray Parish, and pray that you will know God’s guidance as you read this profile. St Michael’s is a friendly and welcoming church, offering strong liturgical worship supported by a robed choir singing more traditional music. There is a very healthy degree of Congregational involvement and teamwork, and study groups are well-attended. The church plays a full part in Maidenhead and Windsor Deanery and in the local community, enjoying close links with the Parish Council. The present congregation tends towards older people, but with closer links to the church schools being forged as part of our Mission Action Plan, we are addressing the age range.
The parish is geographically large, consisting mainly of residential and semi-rural areas. In common with other parts of the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, Bray, Holyport and Fifield are under increasing pressure to find space for additional housing. St. Michael’s is coping financially and always pays its Parish Share in full. There will be opportunities to take a financially supported retreat. The community is very supportive when fund raising for the church building. The PCC is well aware of the shortcomings of the church’s location on the edge of the parish and the competition for the time of young and old parishioners alike. We are convinced that a wider range of services and venues, and continued adherence to the Mission Action Plan, will see St Michael’s reach many of its goals. We recognise the need to work with you to set up a Parish Office to cope with the tasks at present taken on by volunteers.
ABOUT OUR PARISH: Bray and its parish are mentioned in Domesday (1086) as belonging to the crown. Together with the adjoining parish of Cookham it originally covered the whole area of modern Maidenhead, which only emerged as a settlement in the middle ages. Bray Parish was the reputed home of the renowned Vicar of Bray who clung to his living through all the upheavals of the reformation. Today’s parish of Bray with Braywood includes the south-eastern part of Maidenhead and adjoins Windsor to the east, extending about four miles east to west and north to south. It contains the villages of Bray and Holyport, several smaller settlements, much open country, and three miles of the south bank of the Thames. The parish contains five schools, including two Church of England primary schools. There is a good choice of schooling in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead and in neighbouring South Bucks. Population is about 10,400, with 4,150 households. The parish electoral roll is 134, or 1.3% of the population. There are several housing developments planned which could significantly increase this populational and some pastoral reorganisation may be needed. Overall the parish rates in the upper 30% nationally for economic prosperity, but there is a wide social mix. Housing includes three social housing developments and some riverside homes worth millions. There are four care homes, and in Bray village the historic Jesus Hospital alms houses. Most people travel to work beyond the parish. Many commute to Reading, Slough, Heathrow or London. Access to London by M4 motorway or rail is fairly easy and will improve when Crossrail opens. Unemployment is low and mobility is high. There are also many retired people. Social pressures include those experienced by busy commuters, and the difficulties created by very high housing costs especially for young people and key workers on modest incomes. Loneliness can occur in the 24% of households which contain only one person, often a retired person. As in the rest of Britain the secular trend away from Christianity towards no religion presents a challenge.
DEMOGRAPHICS: from the 2011 census for Bray Parish include:-
18.3% Over 65s. 35% Under 30s. 17% Born outside the UK. 8.4% Social Housing. 48.5% Managerial & Professional Occupation. 4% Unemployment.
VISION “To welcome all in Faith, Hope and Love” This vision was agreed when we began work on our Mission Action Plan (MAP) in 2013. Since then there have been two “away days” with the Parish Development Adviser, attendance by the Vicar and three lay leaders at a “Leading Your Church into Growth” course, and a workshop with the congregation. The cover of the MAP was designed by the Sunday School. It has been reviewed regularly by the PCC, and several developments referred to in this profile stem directly from it. The Mission Action Plan is included in Appendix 2. 4 4.