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Rev. Peter H Smith B.A.                        Our new Mission Statement:
“At St Peter’s we aim to be a place where God’s love works for all”

From the Vicar…

Yes, it's a long letter this month! Because it is a very important and emotive subject - money.

If I had a pound for every time I’ve heard the phrase: “The church is always asking for money!” then our church wouldn’t need to ask for money! Another well-worn phrase is that “the church of England is rich and it pays for our churches, doesn’t it?” Not at the local level it doesn’t and since I was appointed in 2015 this is the first time I have felt it necessary to appeal for our church needing money.
Still reading? Good, because most people will have switched off by now. If you are continuing, thank you! because you realise how important the issue of funding for our church and its ministry really matters. Over the coming weeks in church at the main services, you will hear addresses from our Headteacher Ben Holmes, Archdeacon Mark Ireland and Parish Resources Officer, Stephanie Rankin on the importance of ‘giving in grace.’

Giving in grace is our response to all the blessings that God has given us; creation, life, each other, love and the human spirit and so on. Giving to the work and ministry of the church is one way of giving back to God in thanksgiving and to further his mission in the world. We must remember that when churches talk about ‘having a mission’ or ‘doing mission’, it is always God’s mission that we are joining in.
And when we look at how we response to God’s mission we often call it Stewardship; meaning to look after, to take care of, to provide for. Stewardship in the church has traditionally always been about three things: Time, Talents and Money. I am amazed and ever thankful for the number of people who give of their time and talents to our parish, unsung heroes for the most part…and voluntarily. Whenever we get to the issue of money, however, it is rightly a very touchy subject! (perhaps that’s why it comes last on the list!?)

Stewardship has never been and never will be a ‘one size fits all’ solution. Can we expect pensioners and people on benefits to give as much as someone with a well-paid job? (In some ways whichever government is in power has the same dilemma when it comes to taxation!)
I’ve gone on at length about money and perhaps you’re wondering what do we need more money for and why now? First of all, there are the regular items like maintenance and energy bills, insurance, parish share and ministry costs to pay for. This amounts to approximately £1,000 per week. No, it’s not a misprint…a thousand pounds per week.

Those of you who use social media will have seen that our church and its grounds have been subject to vandalism and youths hanging around abusing visitors and the vicar! Add to the thousand pound per week, we also need to protect the stained glass windows, install CCTV and repair a sizeable part of the church wall and leaks in the roof (these things don’t last forever without repair and maintenance) we require in the region of another £20,000.

The truth is, at the present rate of weekly giving we are something like £400 short in what we need. How are we making up the shortfall? By relying on the generosity of families who donate money at baptisms, weddings, funerals and even from legacies after someone has died. As wonderful as that is, it is not good to rely on these as they don’t occur every week. One wouldn’t try to budget on the assumed kindness of people or their departed loved ones.

We have to face up to the reality that it is you, the members of our parish that we turn to for help. Over these last two years I have met so many people who don’t come to our church anymore but tell me they ‘belong’ to St Peter’s because they were married here, or baptised etc ‘x’ years ago. Belonging is not the same as being a member. Being a member costs.

So what do we do? Well, we fund raise for specific items as every church does e.g. the CCTV and the roof appeal (check out our thermometer in church,) and any gifts, donations and legacies are always gratefully received and appreciated and help tremendously to finance these ‘one-offs’.

If you already give, please review your giving and remember giving regularly , sacrificially and using the envelope or standing order schemes are the best way - WHATEVER you give - and is the key to budgeting and maintaining our church for the future as well as the present. No-one can (or should) tell you what you should give, it all depends on your circumstances; but we should give back to God what is right and not what’s left! Perhaps we should ponder on how much we think God is worth when reviewing our giving.
For instance, we all need bread, milk and other food items for our physical wellbeing; we should also consider if our spiritual wellbeing through the ministry of the church is important. Is God worth more than the price of a daily loaf, a daily pint of milk and a daily newspaper per week?

I commend these words of scripture to you…
“Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”                                                                                                                                                                                                           2 Corinthians 9:7
“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                         2 Corinthians 8:12
“But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to give as generously as this? Everything comes from you, and we have given you only what comes from your hand.”
                                                                                                                                                                                                         1 Chronicles 29:14

Yours in Christ and in Christian appreciation and love,
Peter