One of the things that a church should do is take pride in doing things to the best of their ability.

This occurs in worship, where we bring ‘our best selves’ to offer to God. In music and singing, prayer, and preaching we do the very best we can, rather than offer meager ‘left overs’. For instance, the choir meets at least once a week; this gives them the time to practice so that, come the day, they are prepared to offer music worthy of God. I would think that, on average, my sermons work out as one hour’s prep time for every minute preached.

It is also the case that when it comes to furnishing our church and buildings, we get the best we can, rather than think about getting away with the bear minimum that ‘will do’.

When it comes to our publications we, again, try to produce the best we can. Not only does our parish magazine tell people all about who we are at St. Clement’s, how it looks shows people we care. This also applies to our Service Booklets: we try to aid people in their worship by making all they need available to them. Regarding the Service Booklets, we are now in the process of reviewing and updating them. We should never rest on our laurels that we have ‘finished’ in whatever enterprise we undertake.

When it comes to our youth work and our hospitality, I believe we should try to maintain the same high standard. The thing is, though, when it comes to food and youth it can seem that each parish does its own thing – there is no consistency, no ‘standard’ that seems to apply.

Fortunately, there are many outside agencies to which we can look in order to raise our game in these areas. More to the point: because we are aiming to open a preschool in the very near future, we find ourselves in a position where, for that preschool, we will have to adopt County protocols and rules.

This led me to thinking about how things would look if we continue doing what we are currently doing: the Preschool would be working, by law, to a different – higher – set of standards than the rest of the church.

This just didn’t feel right to me, and the more I looked into it, the more it felt wrong.

When I took the required course for the Preschool I was given all sorts of information regarding Best Practices for Preschools. I was also given access to online courses that would help me with regards to regulation for toys and furniture in nurseries, and also kitchen hygiene and food prep. It dawned on me that we should: 1. Be working on a level playing field – i.e. we should be working to only one standard; 2. That standard should be the highest we can achieve.

With all the above in mind, I brought to the Vestry a proposal that we adopt the standards required for our Preschool to operate legally as the standards for both how we run our youth work and how we run our kitchen. After some discussion, the Vestry enthusiastically agreed to adopt those standards.

So what does all this mean for the people of St. Clement’s? Well, first it means that we will have to learn what those higher standards are. This means that our youth volunteers will need to have access to County requirements regarding toys, furnishing, and health and hygiene protocols for children and buildings. It also means that people who volunteer for the kitchen will have to adhere to certain standards.

As I have said, most of this information is available online, and none of it is difficult. Of course, changing how we have done things always produces a few hiccups, but we will soon get used to the new way of doing things. The good thing is that there will be but one standard – rather than ‘what the Preschool does’ and ‘what the rest of St. Clement’s does’.

I hope you agree that the health and wellbeing of our young people is worth us adopting the highest standard we can; and creating proper protocols for our kitchen will make it easier for all of us to continue providing the wonderful food we already share!

I look forward to getting back into our refurbished buildings, and making the most of the new opportunities that will arise for serving our children and our community.

In Christ,

Fr. Andrew.

Father Andrew Heyes (Rector)