Having attended the Deanery Synod last night where the issue of our giving money to the Church was the subject, I thought I would write about this money!
I think it is fair to say, that in our Benefice, most of our churches struggle to raise money to pay our Parish Share. Our regular congregations are very small, and individual commitment to gifting money to our churches is also small. Our parishes generally raise a great deal of money through Fund Raising social events.
On the positive side, our Occasional Offices – Baptisms, Weddings and Funerals are well supported. Our Festivals, Carol Services, Remembrance Sunday, Harvest Festivals are generally extremely well supported. However, what is clear is that parishioners wish for their church to be there. They envisage their daughters getting married in church, they wish to bury their parents in church, and we welcome this. What is abundantly clear is that unless people commit financially to keep their churches going, they will not be there. In particular there will be no clergy. Our Diocese has the highest ratio of clergy to people in the country.
The parish share given to the Diocese from each parish, pays, I think, 74% of the clergy costs. The rest of the cost of providing a clergy person is paid for by the Diocese. Parishes also receive all the Support Ministers costs (paid for by the Diocese). Support Ministers include the people who will help with any specific problems, whether this is help with Faculties, Child Protection, including DBS Disclosures for everyone working with children (for example, anyone involved with Open the Book, or Puppet Praise). Support Ministers include the Board of Education which supports our schools and Governors. There are Support Ministers who will help with raising money, who will provide expertise with Pastoral Visiting Schemes. The Diocese pays for the ongoing training of both clergy and Lay Readers and Leaders. The list is long, I have mentioned only a few topics.
The clergy costs are not just the cost of our individual Incumbent, they include the cost of training people like me – a Self Supporting Priest – I am not paid, and I am a volunteer; a volunteer like most people helping the church. The Revd Richard Jones who travelled from Ross on Wye to be with us last night, and who is spending time speaking to all our Deaneries, and any parishes that request his help, is a volunteer. The church will have paid for his training to be a priest.
In our Benefice the Incumbent has 6 parishes to run administratively, and to care for pastorally. We are lucky in our Benefice as we have a wonderful team of Lay volunteers, especially our Church Wardens and Lay Leaders of worship. Without these lay people there would be a great many less services in our churches.
Enough written!! If anyone would like to know more about our Diocese and the work of the Church please go to www.hereford.anglican.org If you click on ‘Churchgoers’ you will find comprehensive information to read about our Parish Share.
‘The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ 2 Corinthians Chapter 9 verses 6-8.
I urge you all to pray for our Benefice, for the selection of a new Incumbent, and for faith and hope that we may all share the Good News of the Risen Lord Jesus Christ.