Why give to the church?
There are many reasons, actually. In the end, giving is a personal decision and it should be prayed about and balanced carefully with other financial commitments. Some thoughts are below which may help you in your deliberations.
1. There is a Biblical imperative to give some of our income to support the work of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ with the world. There are many examples of the early followers of Jesus giving money to support this work (for example 2 Corinthians 8: 1-24 and Acts 4: 32-37). By giving to the church, you are directly supporting this mission as the earliest followers of Jesus did.
In Biblical times, 10% of income was the suggested amount. However, in recent years, the Bishops have suggested that, as we already contribute a large amount in tax to support community facilities and public servants, a reduced commitment is possible. People should consider what they spend their money on, and what proportion of their income they can spare to support the work of building God's Kingdom.
2. Many people benefit from the work of the parish church, regardless of whether they are regular attenders or not. The parish priest visits the sick and the vulnerable (and during this time of Covid-19, continues to provide support for the grieving and the distressed). It is to the parish church that the 'unchurched' turn when they feel the need of some spiritual input in their lives. The parish church becomes the focal point of the community in times of great joy and great sadness - whether it is for the birth of a child, a wedding, or a funeral. Indeed, times of civic togetherness are often focused around the church, such as in acts of remembrance.
3. The church donates a portion of its income to support other good causes and provides a platform for these good causes to reach a wider audience. It also hosts a number of special events which raise money specifically for other good causes.
4. The church supports young families and the elderly through regular activities (under normal circumstances), with everything from school visits, to coffee mornings and toddler groups for parents, to lunches for the elderly or the lonely all being housed and staffed by the church.
Isn't the Church Funded centrally?
No. Each parish church in the Church of England is funded locally by the members of the congregation and by other supporters who give either directly and regularly by standing order, or via the collection plate. Some churches, like ours, are also able to raise some money by letting facilities for community usage (something which stopped entirely in the light of Covid-19 and has only recently begun again).
What are the costs? There can't be much...
Running a large public building like St Francis church actually does cost a lot in utilities and insurance, plus some staffing costs to run the church office, the music team and children and families team. There are many volunteers, of course, which is hugely helpful to the church. However, there are significant costs running to thousands of pounds a month to keep the church going.
There are many parish churches across the country where the congregations are very small, or in deprived areas. Each church is asked by the diocese (St Albans in our case - which is the head church in our area), to contribute a sum of money each month in proportion to the size of the church membership and the financial demographic of the area the in which the church sits. This goes to help pay for the stipend (salary) of the vicar and curate (which is fixed centrally) but also to support stipends of other vicars in other churches where the income levels are significantly lower and churches are unable to contribute beyond covering their utilities. St Francis Church Welwyn Garden City understandably has a larger 'Parish Share' to pay than some other churches and therefore contributes to support the running of other churches in the diocese.
However, when all outgoings are calculated - including the parish share - St Francis Church is currently spending approximately £2300 per month more than it is receiving in income. Careful stewardship of the funds over the years means that there are currently some reserves, but these will, of course, run out if we do not replenish them.
What can you do?
If you would like to give to the work of the church this can be done either as a one off donation, or more preferably, as a regular commitment.
If you would like to set up a standing order or direct debit, please email email@example.com and we will contact you to sort out the details.
If you would like to give a one off donation, this can be completed at our Just Giving page by clicking the button below.
If you are a UK tax payer, the church is able to claim the tax back on donations if you fill in a Gift Aid Form. If you are making a donation either by standing order or by the Just Giving page - please do consider filling in a Gift Aid form so that we can claim the tax back at no cost to you. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and request a Gift Aid form and we will send one to you. This form also contains details to enable you to make a direct bank transfer of your dontation if this is easier for you.
Please do pray about this and consider carefully what God may be asking you to give to support the work of this church in spreading the news of Jesus Christ and in serving the parish of Welwyn Garden City.