Oh dear! April is gone and I haven’t written or posted anything here for nearly a month. So finally, an update, explaining what I’ve been up to.
The first few days of April were the latter days of Holy Week, leading to Easter Sunday. As I’ve previously written, Easter Day is the Sunday when we normally have the biggest congregation of the year. However, 2015 proved exceptional with a total attendance of 136, (121 adults and 15 children), the largest ever during my seven Easters in Prague.
The additional encouraging thing is that a higher level of numbers attending worship has been maintained post-Easter. Low Sunday, (the Sunday after Easter Day), was far from being ‘low’ and on the following Sunday 19th April, the congregation numbered 74, nearly 50% up on our Sunday average for the year, of around fifty.
Besides being thankful for this rise in numbers, I’ve obviously asked myself what has brought this about. I think the answer is that our core congregation has slightly increased in size and is putting in a higher regularity of attendance. This has combined with an increase in visitors to Prague, joining us for worship. Well over half of our Easter Day congregation were visitors. Nearly all of these find us via our Church website which I constantly seek to keep up-to-date. I recently read some research which indicates that having a Church website that is not up-to-date, is a sure way of discouraging people from attending your Church.
Despite writing in early March, that Spring seems to be arriving, winter has been somewhat reluctant to release its grip. There were several occasions during the last week of March and the first week of April, when Prague experienced heavy snow showers, most notably on Maundy Thursday when I took this picture from the balcony of the Chaplaincy Flat. Much to the amusement of the congregation, I did say at the beginning of our service that evening, in view of the weather I was tempted to change the opening hymn to ‘In the bleak midwinter’ 🙂
However, since the Easter weekend, the weather has been much improved. It was pleasantly fine for our mini-pilgrimage on Holy Saturday and positively warm when I went walking to further explore Ceský Ráj.
Earlier this year, I was forced to visit the dentist for the first time for a few years, when one of my front teeth just fell out. Actually, it was a crown dating back nearly thirty years, which had come adrift because the tooth root to which it was attached, had died. A root canal filling and a new crown restored my good looks 😉
However, whilst fixing my front tooth, my dentist did point out that the rest of my mouth was a bit of a mess. So in late March, I decided to bite the bullet – please forgive the obvious pun – and get some further dental work done. Several visits later, on Friday 10th April, I had three new crowns fitted to the top left side of my mouth, into the large gap left by bits of tooth and filling falling out over previous years.
Whilst I’m very pleased with the end result, my three new crowns have inevitably cost me many Czech crowns – CZK13,500, (£400 at current exchange rates), to be precise 🙁 , making a serious hole in my bank account. My only consolation is knowing that having similar work done in the UK, would probably have cost twice as much!
Annual Church Meeting
At our Annual Church Meeting on Sunday 19th April, we did all the usual things such as receiving the 2014 accounts and electing the Churchwardens and Church Council for the next twelve months. But as well as looking back over the previous year, I took the opportunity to look forward.
I pointed out that in less than two years time, I would turn sixty-five, and that my current bishop’s licence as Anglican Chaplain in the Czech Republic, expires on 30th April 2017. Further to that, somewhere between my sixty-fifth birthday and the expiry date of my bishop’s licence, I intend to retire. Ahead lies an interesting two years as the Chaplaincy begins to prepare for finding my successor and as Sybille and I begin to sort out where we are going to retire to. Keep reading this blog if you want to know more!
Tyres and STK for the ‘Carly’
As in many continental European countries, in the Czech Republic it is a requirement to have winter tyres fitted on cars, when driving in severe weather conditions. This realistically means between November and March each year. So on Friday 24th April, I drove to Nepomuk to visit my friend Adrian Blank, in order to change from winter back to summer tyres. Adrian’s in-laws truck and car servicing business, kindly store the set of tyres I’m not using at any given time.
As I’ve previously explained, once every two years in the Czech Republic, a car also has to pass STK, the equivalent of a British MOT test. Although my current STK is valid until 20th June 2015, I decided to take advantage of the opportunity of needing to be in Nepomuk for the tyre change, to also get the ‘Carly’ through STK slightly earlier than required.
As well as changing the tyres, I asked Adrian and his mechanic colleague, to check if anything else needed doing to ensure the ‘Carly’ would pass STK. Fortunately, the only thing wrong was that one light over the back number plate was not working, because the bulb was kaput.
After this, Adrian and I set off to the nearby town of Horažd’ovice, where the STK testing station is located. Conveniently, Adrian had another car that had been left with him by the owner, in order to get it through STK, so he drove that car and I followed in mine. I am pleased to report that the ‘Carly’ passed with flying colours, costing me only CZK1125 for the test and CZK9 for a new light bulb 🙂 Afterwards, Adrian and I had lunch together which I did also pay for as a ‘thank you’ for his continued help in keeping the ‘Carly’ legally on Czech roads.