Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Mission-Led Stewardship Meeting 17 March 2015

Mission-led Stewardship: generous giving, wills and programmes
Around 30 people from our benefice came to Winsley Church Hall on 17 Mar. 2015 to hear John Kilbee, Diocesan Mission & Stewardship Advisor for the Ramsbury Area, and David Robinson, Deanery Treasurer, talk about mission, stewardship and giving, as well as to explain why there is a diocesan Fairer Share to pay each year.
Who are we?
The ice-breaker question revealed that everyone present still saw us as 4 churches rather than a united benefice. When asked what label we would apply to our church (anglo-catholic, charismatic, evangelical, liberal, rational, social activist, traditional), those from MF & SW were united in seeing themselves as traditional. W members did not want to commit to a single label and thought they had elements of all. CC has main strand of traditional with liberal, evangelical and anglo-catholic elements. [These responses reflect the findings of the 2014 Benefice Survey.]
The big picture
The Church of England is a national established church, with 2 Archbishops, 39 bishops (24 of whom sit in the Lords), and 68 area bishops. The Church Commissioners manage the historic property assets, pay clergy pensions, oversee pastoral reorganisation, and the closing of consecrated church buildings and graveyards. The 41 dioceses, amongst other duties, pay the clergy (Salisbury has c. 190 paid clergy and c. 70 NSMs). Parishes are responsible for worship, pastoral care and maintaining church buildings and contribute funds (via the Fairer Share) to the diocese towards clergy pay, training, pensions and housing.
It costs roughly £1bn to run the CofE each year – cathedrals, national church, dioceses and parishes, clergy and other employees pay and pensions, building maintenance, and schools. Cathedrals are self-funding.
The Salisbury diocesan budget is just over £12m p.a. Of this 20% is met by its own income and spent on admin, education and a contribution to the national church. The remaining 80% covers total clergy costs and is raised through the parish share system (called Fairer Share in Salisbury). Salisbury’s 467 parishes vary widely in terms of membership numbers, affluence and poverty, and urban / rural issues, so a ‘one size fits all’ quota would put greater pressure on some parishes than on others. [Other options are possible: the Diocese of Bristol tried allowing parishes to give what they could afford, resulting in a budget deficit of 10%; the diocese cut the budget to fit the income largely through natural wastage and lay people had to ‘step up’ and take on some of the typical clergy roles.]
What is Fairer Share and how does it work?
Uniquely, Salisbury has opted for Fairer Share, building on a scheme devised by the diocese of Bath & Wells; just 1 or 2 others use similar but less rigorous schemes. Fairer Share is based on the number of church members per benefice per paid clergy, allocating parishes to an ‘ability to pay’ category, and adjusting this relative to member numbers. Benefices of 131 to 170 members are not adjusted; those with more or fewer are adjusted up or down.
Our benefice currently has 235 members so there is a positive adjustment of 2 category levels. CC, MF and SW are category E (from C) and Winsley is category D (from B).
Congregations fund 80% of Salisbury diocesan outgoings through their Share, and raise this through fees, giving (collections and donations), Gift Aid claims, bequests in wills, running events (e.g. sales of various sorts, coffee mornings, talks, etc.) and rent (e.g. from church halls).
Parishes also give to charity. Of the £9bn the UK population donates each year to charity, over £1bn (14%) is given by churches (this figure includes all churches, not just the CofE). During the recession giving by the general population went down and that by churches rose slightly. It is estimated that 49% of the population give regularly, while 51% never give.
What do we mean by Stewardship?
Stewardship is not fund raising: it includes paying clergy, taking on mission initiatives, giving in good times and bad, caring for resources, making ends meet and gifting to the church.
So money comes into it but we are uneasy at talking about it. Do you know your parish share target for this year? Do you know the figure if everyone could give an equal amount towards this?
Diocesan share works out at £315.01 p.a. (£6 p/w or £26.25 p/m) per member (CC, MF and SW) and £348.76 p.a. (£6.70 p/w or £29 p/m) per member (W).
How much extra is needed for heating and lighting, bread, wine and candles, repairs, administration, printing, paid youth worker in your parish? Perhaps £2 (£8 p/w or £104 p.a.) per member per week would cover it; total donations (diocesan share plus parish costs) then works out to £8 p/w (£34.25 p/m) for CC. MF and SW and £8.70 p/w (£37 p/m) for W.
Where is this going to come from? We need to target ourselves first – church members and those on the electoral roll – and then those on the Fringe (come at Christmas and Easter) and the wider community. What about a leaflet about what the church is doing – stories are good, so depending on the parish, we can mention initiatives such as The Ark, Sunbeams, the After School Club, Youth Club, toy donations to a women’s refuge at Christmas, food to Alabare and the Hub @ BA15. John Kilbee has lots of examples and templates we can use, in addition to more specific advice on campaigns.
What and how should we give?
The ideal is giving generously in proportion to the church’s needs. The Old Testament recommended tithing (10% of income) while the New Testament asks us to search our hearts ‘freely you have received, freely give’. Since 1978, General Synod has recommended 5%, but nationally average giving is about 3%. Giving can be enhanced through the Gift Aid scheme for those who are tax payers.
If you are giving – can we depend on it? Those giving by envelope or collection bag may miss a week here and there due to illness and holiday – and may not remember to add extra next time they come. We can now reclaim (within limits) Gift Aid on collection bag or plate donations, but it is more work for the Treasurers than a standing order.
Have you thought of putting a bequest to the church in your will? If it is not in the will, family members may not think to make a gift. Once it was common for a funeral collection entirely or in part to go to the church; it is now far more likely to go to a health charity.
The Challenge
Individual circumstances vary, and not everyone will be able to meet the giving figures listed above – and will not be expected to – while others may be able to be extra generous in their giving. But we do need to do three things:

  • Review our giving on an annual basis.
  • If giving by envelope or cash donation, consider moving to a standing order.
  • If you pay tax, please sign up to Gift Aid.

Last but not least, money is not everything, so thanks for everything you all do to keep our church life going – it is much appreciated. It is essential however, to always see stewardship in the wider context of Christian theology. Teaching or preaching from the pulpit or in home bible studies is essential. Underpinned by prayer, the church’s mission or purpose should be shared with members in a time of celebration thanking them graciously for their time, giving and generosity.
Ann Chapman and John Kilbee