All Saints Parish Today
The David Lewis Centre
A very important part of the parish today is the David Lewis Centre in Little Warford (www.davidlewis.org.uk). This renowned centre for people with epilepsy was opened as The David Lewis Colony for Epilepsy in 1904, through the generosity of the founder of Lewis’s Department Stores. So it has always been part of the parish. The difference it makes to the parish today is twofold:
- The reduced financial resources of the Church of England has led to fewer stipendiary priests, and to many parishes being combined. Without the David Lewis Centre there would be no parish priest in Marthall. The Centre contributes very generously to the priest’s stipend.
- The centre has grown considerably since its earlier days and the needs of the residents have become much greater. There are currently about 300 residents, which include the children at the school, college students, and adult residents. Though epilepsy is the common denominator, residents have other related neurological conditions, and many require at least one-to-one care. So in addition to the 300 residents there are approximately 700 staff – a sizable village in its own right!
The David Lewis Centre is both a challenging and inspirational place to work due both to the commitment of the staff and the courage and bravery of many residents. During my two years as chaplain at the centre I have enjoyed building up relationships with all of them; my role is much the same as that of parish priest. There are many needs, and though the context at the centre is different from that of a rural parish, there are the same stresses in relationships, worry about illness, sadness following a loss, the same fears….people are people.
There are two weekly services at the centre:
- Sunday afternoon
- Wednesday afternoon at the end of the residents’ working day.
The local Methodist minister has involvement in the service twice a month and a team from the Roman Catholic Church regularly brings Holy Communion to RC residents.
The Parochial Church Council
The Parochial Church Council known as the PCC is responsible for the administration and finances of the Parish church. The PCC is unconnected with the parish council, which is part of local government. The incumbent or priest in charge and churchwardens are automatically members of the PCC and the others are members of the laity elected from time to time. To be elected it is necessary to be on the electoral role of the Church which is open to those over the age of 16, baptized and a member of the Church of England.
Historically, all parish churches were run by the incumbent and the churchwardens with the laity having little or no say in either administration or finance but after the Great War an Act was passed in 1919 bringing into being Parochial Church Councils.
PCC meetings, held at regular intervals, are not open to the public but an annual meeting is held, which is open to those on the church electoral role and it is then that elections are held and reports given on finance and all other relevant matters.
For further information, contact should be made with the Churchwardens.