St Nicolas Financial Crisis – Challenge and Opportunity

The PCC acts on behalf of the whole congregation to manage and direct the life of the church.  It is our duty to keep you informed. Subject to the auditor’s eagle eye, in 2018,

The overall income of the church was:              £63,699.74

The overall expenditure of the church was:      £75,627.05

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to work out that we were £11,927.31 short of what we needed.  The finance committee, with the approval of the PCC, have transferred funds from savings to pay our bills leaving almost nothing in unrestricted cash reserves.

James, our treasurer, has on our behalf negotiated a freeze in Parish Share for 2019, and the finance committee have already worked hard to secure the best possible rates for amenities, but as a church community we now need to ask some hard questions about where we go from here.

The accounts show that overall giving has remained static over the past few years, whereas costs rise year on year.  We have to be realistic about funding what we believe to be important.

In the New Testament God himself gave us his only son because he loves us so much, and that Son died on a cross for us. It sets a model that generosity in God’s people should be sacrificial.

It is particularly concerning that of the total income last year, only £22,824.50 (just over a third) came from regular congregational giving (standing orders and blue envelopes combined).  Of that £22,824.50, just 5 people contributed 33% of total regular giving.  This is a precarious situation with so much of our regular income coming from such a tiny proportion of the congregation.

Church weddings are down, reflecting the amazing diversity of choice now available to couples looking to get married.   It is increasingly popular to have both ceremony and reception under one roof – just one example of a past income stream that we cannot rely on for the future.

Whilst the PCC is looking for ways to encourage the wider community to make some contribution to the church which sits at the heart of the village and is valued for occasional services (eg: a fixed card reader which could be located at the back of church and used by those attending weddings, Remembrance Sunday or Christmas worship), weas the worshipping community must also step up.

In the 1980s there was a stewardship campaign which ran with the slogan “The Responsibility is Ours” – TRIO for short. And that’s the bottom line.  The things we value in life have to be funded. Our spending in every area reflects what we really think is important.

If we believe that it matters to be strong Christian community in Taplow, we have to fund it.  If we believe that our building is a precious heritage that we want to maintain to be a visible sign of that Christian presence in the future, we have to fund it.  If we want to be at least reasonably warm in church on a Sunday morning, we have to fund it. If we want a parish priest to minister to congregation, community, school and preschool, we have to fund it. If we believe it is important to share the good news of Jesus Christ here for future generations, we have to fund it.

Therefore, I encourage you to take seriously the request to be part of the parish giving scheme, making a regular monthly donation by Direct Debit, reducing the labour at local level and giving a regular monthly income to the church, making it easier for the church to budget effectively. We understand that many people hate form filling – especially of the financial variety!  I include myself in that.  And so there will be a Parish Giving Helpdeskat the back of church on Sundays 24th February and 3rdand 10thMarch, answering questions and helping as much as possible – even filling in forms for you and you can just add the amount privately at the end.

And I hope that without shouting at each other, we can as the Body of Christ here in Taplow, have honest, open, practical conversations about how move forward as we seek to be faithful to God, care for one another and serve the community here.

Jane, on behalf of PCC