All churches which belong to the Church of England , contrary to popular belief, receive no money from the government and no longer receive money from the Church of England. They have to be self-sufficient – in simple terms, all of us here, one way or another, have to pay the expenses of keeping this beautiful, ancient church open. We do that in different ways, mainly by asking people to donate an amount of money that they can afford, every week or every month,. Most people now do that by monthly standing order. That is the easiest way of doing it but, unfortunately, it doesn’t generate enough money to cover all our costs, so we have to do other things.
Two years ago we introduced the lottery, which has been very successful and raises just over £4000 a year after all the prizes have been paid. The Christmas raffle raised £1000. Before Covid we did other things like the Village Car Boot Sale and the Christmas Fayre, which, together used to raise about £2000 a year, but that source of money is now on hold until the Covid crisis is behind us.
The last two years had the potential to be devastating on our finances because for a lot of 2020 and some of 2021 the Church of England decided that churches had to be closed. As soon as that happened, the church collections disappeared overnight, but quick action to move to payment by standing orders mitigated this. We’ve nevertheless had two years of declining income yet increasing costs.
Parish Share – We have to have a vicar and he is not employed by the church, but by the Diocese of Blackburn, who pay his stipend (salary), employers’ national Insurance and pensions, and provide and maintain a vicarage for him and his family to live in. We have to pay an amount to the Diocese each month to cover this, and that’s called Parish Share. Small churches like ours can no longer afford the cost of a full-time vicar, which is why we share Toby with All Saints, and the employment and housing costs I’ve described are shared between the two churches in proportion to the number of people attending services each year. So, concern number 1 – our parish share for 2022 has gone up to £14900- nearly £1,250 per month. Last year it was £13370, so we are looking at an increase this year of £1,530, or £29 a week – just about £1 a week for every adult who regularly attends church. The year before, In 2020, our Parish Share was £11831, which means that in 2022 we are having to pay 26% – £3070 – more than we were paying two years ago – £255 extra every month! Why has it gone up so much? Well there are three main reasons.
i. Firstly, the Church Commissioners, the guardians of the money owned by the Church of England, allocate a subsidy to each Diocese each year for them to pass on to individual churches, not as a cash payment, but to be treated as part payment of their parish share The Diocese used to share out the subsidy across all the churches in the Blackburn Diocese but this year there has been a change because the Church Commissioners are insisting that only the poorer churches receive the subsidy. We do not qualify as a “poor church” so our subsidy has been completely taken away.
ii. The second impact on Parish Share is that our average weekly congregation has been increasing, but the congregation at All Saints has seen a decline, so our share of the joint total has gone up. The price of success you might say.
iii. And thirdly, part of the fees we charge for conducting weddings and funerals have to be passed on to the Diocese, but they also treat that money as part payment of our Parish Share. The trouble is. they work two years behind, so that means that only now are we being credited with the fees which we paid two years ago. And two years ago what happened to weddings and funerals? They pretty much stopped because of Covid, so in the last two years we haven’t passed over very much at all by way of fees to the Diocese, so that means there has been very little to set off against our Parish Share. This situation will also apply to our 2023 Parish Share..
Gas & Electric – along with all of you, we know that we are likely to face substantial increases in our heating bills this year, as yet undetermined. Last year our gas and electric cost £1507. But I expect increases in heating costs this year to add £1 a week for every adult to our costs.
With all the money we’ve had to spend on the roofs over the past few years, our savings are very severely depleted, so there is not a lot to fall back on. So, I have to ask you two things
– If you pay by standing order could you give some thought to increasing the amount you pay each month?
– If you use the yellow gift aid envelopes please would you consider setting up a monthly standing order instead. Using the envelopes is fine, but that means that you only pay anything on the Sundays you come to church. That means, for me as treasurer, it’s very difficult to budget, not knowing what we are going to receive each week, whereas, if everyone was on standing order, I would already know, in the middle of January, fairly accurately, what the giving for the whole of 2022 is likely to be. That gives me some certainty on our income which means that I can budget for our costs and identify any potential problems well in advance.
I know that there are all sorts of demands for our money. There are fears already about the cost of living and what might happen in 2022, but I would be failing in my duty to you as your treasurer if I didn’t communicate my concerns to you. Please don’t take this message the wrong way. It’s not for me to tell anyone how much they should give . If it’s any use, the average regular giving – in other words, those who pay by standing order – in 2021 was £9.13, per adult, per week. But an average is an average. The highest giver gave £33 a week, the lowest, just a £1. All I’m asking is, that over the next few days, you take some time to reflect on what I’ve said and to ask yourself if you could do more. Next time you buy a Costa coffee on your way to work, or you buy that bottle of wine to go with the Friday night take-away, just ask yourself whether what you give to church is what’s right – or is it just what’s left at the end of the week.
So thank you for giving me the time to express these concerns to you. And let’s all really pull together to keep this wonderful place as warm, as welcoming and as vibrant as it is now.