Secretary's report

Heath Street is a friendly church in the heart of Hampstead. We are a small, diverse worshipping community. All are welcome to attend our services and our regular congregation is often joined by newcomers and visitors to Hampstead.

In 2022 our services of worship were on Sunday morning at 11 a.m. in the church, and this year for the first time since the pandemic we were able to have all services held in person in the church. We continued to facilitate the sharing of the worship over Zoom for those who were vulnerable or otherwise could not attend in person. Our minister Ewan King continues to support young people, established musicians and the Heath Street Choir to play and sing worship music at our Sunday morning services.

2022 saw major stonework taking place on the frontage of the church. Renovation was called for because of safety issues, with falling crumbs alerting us to the poor repair of the stonework. The contract to repair and clean went to Permanens, whom the church found to be excellent. The top of the North spire, which was severely damaged, was replaced. The stonework was stress-tested and repaired where needed. For the time being only the higher levels are repaired to the very best standard. To make good the whole frontage would not require scaffolding the building as before and for this reason can be done piecemeal in due course. The stonework project depleted our reserves, costing over £200,000, but also saw a fundraising campaign that raised an impressive £65,000, with significant donations coming from not just the congregation but old members who now live abroad, those who come to concerts and other events, and from locals who are not building users. The largest donation was £10,000 and the smallest just £10.

Music Outreach Officer John-Henry Baker, in place of restarting the Tuesday Lunchtime concerts, began the ‘Sunday Sundown series’. He designed and launched a new marketing campaign to reach out to new audiences. The series sees a different concert performed every Sunday evening at 6, usually for free with a retiring collection for the musicians. They grew in popularity and have regularly attracted audiences of 30+ people.

This year Heath Street Choir became incorporated as its own charity, with the trustees being Ewan King, Rachel Zimmern, Hildi Hawkins, and Iain McNaught. The artistic director is Emily Gray.

Our Children’s Worker Wilf Merttens continued our children’s Sunday Club, and added another session of Storymakers, our afterschool club, to the roster of church activities. A set of primary aged children met on Mondays during term times, with the secondary aged children meeting on a Wednesday. Both clubs gained new regular participants. A new annual activity was added to the calendar, with the inaugural ‘Moses and Miriam Boat Race’ taking place on the river Ver, St Albans on a sunny Saturday in May.

Laura Somers continued in her role as a part-time caretaker, keeping the church spaces tidy and undertaking and commissioning repairs. Her relationship with our regular cleaner Monica is very good, and building users note the overall increased tidiness of the whole space and the better organisation of the kitchen particularly. Oldtime Nursery has continued to slowly rebuild a clientele of babies, toddlers and carers after the pandemic.

The current deacons are Annie Fang, Gaynor Humphreys (Treasurer), Wilf Merttens (Secretary), and Sarah Harper. Julie Benoit often joined us via Zoom to support the meeting and learn about the diaconate. Meetings were chaired by our Minister Ewan King.

This year saw many new faces join the congregation at Heath Street. This came with one baptism, several applications for membership and several more new commitments to supporting and building up the life of the church at Heath Street. During the season of Lent we met online over Zoom twice a day to follow the ‘Lent Prose’, an early medieval hymn. We followed it sometimes in the original Latin though mostly in English translation. The booklet that provided the words for the hymn was illustrated by Laura Somers.

This year saw the launch of a new digital ministry for our church, with our minister Ewan King leading on us on a pilgrimage through Dante Alighieri’s redemptive epic the Divine Comedy. Together we read and discuss a canto a week over Zoom. The pilgrimage began on 15th April and will conclude on Good Friday, 29th March 2024. Theresa Thom and Ewan King continued to represent our church on the Churches Together in Hampstead group. This year CTiH held a Ceilidh at Rosslyn Hill Chapel, with music led by our minister Ewan King.

Wilf Merttens


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