Since taking on my role as treasurer nearly 18 months ago, there have been very visible signs of major expenditure we have incurred to keep the fabric of our church going. With the roof and organ works now complete, and work on the transept window well under way, this major investment phase in the long life of Christ Church with St Mary’s is now coming to an end. I don’t want to dwell on this aspect of our finances, save to say it has largely been made possible by the generosity of those who have gone before us through legacies.Whilst I think that the excellent work that has been carried out in both churches will stand us in good stead for many years to come, we should perhaps remember that we ourselves, subject to our means, can continue to contribute to the well-being of the church and parish after we have gone, through legacies.
With the fabric of the churches settled, I wanted to focus today on the true purpose of our being here, and what the funds we may be fortunate enough to possess can do.
I mean of course our mission to do God’s work within and beyond the parish. Without a reasonably sound financial operating basis we cannot do this.
We need to keep the ‘business’ of the church going – paying our excellent staff, the usual running costs, and keeping our mission and community work going. Of particular significance is the support we give to the diocese for the employment of clergy. This includes our own, as well as for churches outside our own parish, who may have an even greater struggle than us to keep their missions going. In 2019, the financial commitment to do this amounted to £107,600, and next year the diocese is keen for us to commit a higher sum of up to £119,000.
Where does this money for these things come from? Well, we have the generosity of the Friends of Christ Church, investments, fundraising activities, legacies and our reserves, but the most important is the generosity of yourselves, and I wanted to speak a little more about this.
You may have heard, or you may already be part, of the Parish Giving Scheme which was launched last year. This is a direct-debit based way of giving that is our preferred alternative to having a standing order, and is well-established in parishes across the country. Thank you for all those who give generously through the scheme. We are beginning to reap the huge benefits of this scheme with over 50 us giving in this tax-efficient way. Not least is the weight being taken off the shoulders of our gift-aid manager Stephen Grosvenor, who has cheerfully carried out the task of claiming gift-aid tax back for us for the last 20 years. With no disadvantages, and with the great benefit of this reduction in Stephen’s administration effort, I would urge all those who do not already do so to take part and to give generously in this new way.
It involves completing a simple form, and I have some with me, and (10am: Stephen and) I will be available after the service if anyone would like to discuss this further, or would like helping completing the form.
If you are not able to commit to regular giving in these ways, then whatever you can give is still greatly valued and appreciated. If you are a taxpayer, the Gift Aid Scheme increases the value of your gift by 20% if you make your donations via a Gift Aid Envelope. These can be found at the back of the church or by contacting the Parish Office.
Just to mention in a little more detail our current finances for those interested. This year we have a total income budget of £200,595, which we have to find from somewhere and an operating expenditure budget of £205,886, ie an ‘unbalanced budget’ in which we plan to draw on some of our reserves. Naturaly costs rise every year, and the more observant amongst you will note this is a significant rise on last year. One particular item is the cost of energy – heating this place for instance – which has risen considerably.
For the year up to the end of July however, we are doing a little better than the budget – by about £3,500 – which is good news but largely due to not having appointed a children’s and young families worker. Our finances are finely-balanced and we must not let up in our efforts to maintain our income, which comes largely through giving and the efforts of our volunteers to fundraise. I should also mention our community centre, which continues to be very successful under tha capable management of Chris Smith and Jenny Hatter, and can help with our finances
So, in conclusion, our operating finances are finely-balanced. We do have major commitments coming up to deliver our mission and one of the most helpful ways in which you can help us is to sign up for the Parish Giving Scheme. You can find out how by contacting Stephen Grosvenor, our Gift Aid Secretary who will explain the process and help you sign up. Stephen can be contacted on 07885 217077 or firstname.lastname@example.org