Would you like to be our friend?

Author: The Revd Steve Deall

Published on: 30 August 2022

Coming out of the pandemic, and for me a new Rector, we at St Nicholas were concerned about money – basically we didn’t have enough! We were struggling to pay our parish share, both during the pandemic and many years prior; as a result there was nothing left for evangelism.

We engaged with material through CPAS regarding fundraising, held a stewardship campaign, a teaching series on faithful giving, encouraged the use of standing orders, set up easy fundraising.com, added Just Giving to our website, and bought a contactless machine.

We also looked at our resources. We refurbished the hall, letting it out to local groups, offered refreshments after funerals and weddings at reasonable rates. But still the books would not balance.

What became clear was that we were very much looking inwards for fundraising, and not able to move much further forward, given the increasing demands on the incomes of our faithful congregation. We were led to recognise the need to look outward for help, thinking about how we could engage with the wider community.

Firstly, we tackled the neglected churchyard with small working parties; church members and I took every opportunity to talk to the people who walk through this well-used thoroughfare. Tidying the old graves produced many positive comments and we had the support of Green Gym to help with this. Secondly we decided to engage with the community by building up relationships with other stakeholders locally, organising events to which the community could both be involved in and attend. We also took the decision to stop charging for any of our events and simply ask for donations; some were sceptical about this – but the income increased!

Building up relationships with the community has been a joy, detecting the change in perception of the church in people’s minds from one of apathy to positivity towards the church and church family. We noticed a real feeling that, although people may not be ‘religious’ (their words), they do value the church and churchyard and were willing to contribute to the efforts we have been making to improve our community for the benefit of everyone.

So, the time was right to launch a ‘Friends’ scheme. This has been set up to be used here for the upkeep of the churchyard, buildings, and resources for community use. Monies raised are put into a restricted account, overseen by the PCC. We have started slowly, hoping to expand the scheme as and when God raises up people who might like to take it further. Now we have had a few significant donations and our monthly income into the scheme is in the region of £110 a month. It has meant that we are able to begin to spend money locally improving the environment for everyone, but not to the detriment of paying the Parish Share.

I would commend the scheme and if anyone would like further information, please do get in touch.

The author...

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The Revd Steve Deall

Licensed clergy - Incumbent: Rector, Bradwell (Benefice)

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