Minding the shop

Published on: 21 December 2022

Our Rector retired in Summer 2021. We knew it was unlikely the Rector would be replaced quickly, and in fact we were told that our Benefice was to merge with a neighbouring team on the appointment of a new incumbent. Change was coming and we had to consider what our future was going to look like.

The PCC realised we had two options: to take a conservative stance and keep things ‘ticking over’ until a new Rector is appointed, or to take a more reflective approach and use this time as an opportunity to stand back, look critically at everything the Church has been doing, and consider where God is guiding us for the future.

The PCC has created a new vision statement. We have realised that (i) we have to prioritise the growth of the church through evangelism, and that (ii) we need to bring people into our Church by opening our historic building to wider community use.

Whilst drawing people in is essential for the Church’s mission, that cannot be achieved, however, without the resources needed. We knew that we were not going to get a replacement full-time Rector, and that this loss was a direct result of underpayment of our Parish share. If the Parish’s financial standing is not improved urgently, then the whole of our mission is in jeopardy. Therefore, securing the Parish’s financial future is our third priority.

We started by looking at changes to giving patterns during Covid and realised that the reduction in cash donations was mirroring a reduction in cash usage throughout society. We therefore installed a CollecTin card reader (www.collectin.org) via Parish Buying which has already paid for itself five times over. This service also allows online donations via our newly relaunched website.

Reforming regular giving however was more difficult. No-one really likes to talk about money, so we sought external help. We were pointed in the direction of the Generous Giving advisor by the Archdeacon’s team and they gave a presentation on the Parish Giving Scheme to the PCC and explained how it handles direct debits and gift aid, removing a major headache for our treasurer.

We are at the start of our journey with the Parish Giving Scheme and having signed up we are about to launch this with the congregation. Beyond money, we are working in lots of new ways to bring people into our Church too: a dog-friendly Paws for Coffee café; material support to the community through the Wall of Kindness leave-a-coat project; a new Community Pantry to provide basic food and other essentials to families hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis; and an SOS email service for requests for prayer, visits and pastoral care.

An Interregnum is proving to be a God-given opportunity for us to reassess our mission in a period of uncertainty and change. We look forward to a new Rector joining us to take God’s work forward!

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