By Revd Ray Billingsley
There are times when our faith is really tested and this time last year was such a time for us. Money problems were beginning to distract us from what we ought to doing as a parish. We owed £5000 in quota arrears and our budget for 2010 showed a likely overdraft of £12000 by the 31st of December which would continue to escalate year on year.
What were we to do? I remembered an advertising maxim from when I was training to be an Accountant, which said, “Never whisper down a well, stand up straight and shout like ……” I’ll leave the rest to your imagination. Our church decided to do two things; firstly put our trust in God, and tell ‘the world’ about our situation. The church does not belong to the worshippers, it belongs to the parish, a parish of approx 4000 souls.
Our first stop was to visit Diane McCarthy (Diocesan Secretary) and Graham Walker (Finance Officer). We wondered if they would reduce the quota. Disappointingly the answer was no! But, and it’s a very important but, they drew our attention to Gift Direct and explained how simple the system was to operate. The Church in Wales would look after all the administration and even arrange for the gift aid to be refunded to us by the tax office.
We wrote a letter to every house in the parish explaining our financial needs simply stating that we wanted the church to continue to be there for them: to celebrate their weddings and baptisms and to console with them during periods of bereavement, to be there for their children for school visits and lots more. We knew how much people appreciated that the building was left open all day, every day for them to simply visit or pray in.
We delivered our letters and held our breath. Slowly but surely money began to come in. Organisations and individuals sent in £5000 in donations to clear the deficit. Regular giving increased hugely, and incredibly £2000 per annum is now coming in via Gift Direct from people who do not even attend church. Information packs are now being sent to people who have been married in our churches during the last three years. We’re not too proud to ask!
God has answered our prayers and people have not only been generous but become more aware of the church’s role in the parish. By the end of the year we had a surplus of approx £1500. (Well we did not ask God for a surplus, just enough to help us to balance the books! ) Have faith and try Gift Direct yourselves.