The number registered on the electoral roll at the 2009 was 69, an increase of 5 over 2008. The average attendance at services during the year was 28, also an increase over the previous year, with substantially higher numbers at festivals and special occasions. Weekly services are held at 11.00 on Sundays, interspersed with All Age Services for families and young people.
The regeneration of the choir and the enthusiasm of the Churchwardens and Mrs Tikki Gulland in support of our priests have helped in the growth and participation in the weekly services. The two Churchwardens, Mrs June Eckton and Mrs Margaret Cooke, have again shouldered the heavy burden of responsibility with admirable fortitude and energy. In addition they have been faced with the task of managing the security of the vacant Detling Primary School buildings.
The year has seen the beneficial effects of the new building alterations, undertaken mainly in 2008, namely the addition of the kitchenette, toilet (with facilities for the disabled) and the opening up of the north aisle both for meetings and for the coffee after Sunday services. These facilities, together with the remodelling of the vicars and choir vestry and most importantly the new heating system, have been very important factors in the promoting the steady rise in Sunday service attendance that has been a notable feature of church life in 2009.
Specific developments in the year have included:
1. The arrival of our new Priest-in-Charge the Rev. Susan Hollins, following the happy and constructive interregnum period under Rev. Elizabeth Attaway. Her arrival has brought not only a new sense of purpose but also an enthusiastic energy and friendly persuasiveness that has stirred us to more action.
2. After some irritating problems with the new electric heating system, modifications have been made including the provision of under-pew heaters, which have improved the situation. However, further provisions are necessary if the church is to be sufficiently warm during particularly cold weather.
3. A more formal arrangement has been made for providing staffing for the Boxley/Detling/St Johns School benefice with recruitment of the Rev. Elizabeth Attaway and Rev. Sue Austin, This has enabled the Vicar to rearrange the timing of Sunday services, which will take effect from Palm Sunday 2010.
4. The new Hon. Treasurer, Dr Michael Taylor, in order to address the financial problems facing the church, initiated a fund-raising campaign, Open Doors at St Martins. During the latter half of the year there was a programme of cream teas in the churchyard, a concert by the local choir the Detling Singers and a Christmas Fair held in the church. The programme raised in excess of 1,700.
5. The delayed Quinquennial Inspection was finally carried out by George Denny, Diocesan Architect. This indicated that the church is structurally in good condition and revealed no urgent problems. There were recommendations only for minor items of refurbishment, none of which is required urgently.
Regular worship has continued with a growing congregation and an informal choir, under the enthusiastic direction of the Organist Mr Tim Cathcart, which meets fortnightly for choir practice.
The Bible Study Group continues to meet regularly under the leadership of Mr Bryan Follett, who also organised the Lent Course.
Detling Companions – The pastoral group continues to provide contact with the elderly and sick, with house visits, quarterly tea parties in the Village Hall and coffee mornings in the houses of group leaders. Transport is arranged for hospital visits, doctors appointments and collection of prescriptions.
Christmas Eve Event – The annual event Search for the Christ Child was again held, but owing to bad weather the entire event was staged in the church. Nevertheless the event was surprisingly well supported with over 200 attending.
Living Stories – Mrs Tikki Gulland continues to bring Bible stories to the Detling Pre-School Unit, which uses a building of the Detling C of E Primary School. In addition the children visited the church to see and be told about the Crib and the Nativity story.