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Thornbury Parish


Stewardship Sunday - talk given after each service

Do you remember Mr Micawber's famous recipe for happiness: "Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen [pounds] nineteen [shillings] and six [pence], result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result - misery.”

I am sorry to have to talk about money; it is a topic that in our culture we dislike talking about openly. I am sorry to be asking you for more, when I know this is likely to be sacrificial. But you know -

giving to God is part of our worship and our response to God’s free grace and love.

Contrary to popular assumption, the church is not rich; and it is not supported by the state. All we do here is paid for by donations and legacies.

The Church commissioners’ investments, much in the press following ++Justin’s speech, do not feed into parish resources directly. They cover: clergy pensions, Bishops stipends and expenses, a contribution towards Cathedral grants, central church admin. Only the income from the investments is accessible, the capital is protected,  and outgoings regularly exceed that.

Each year the Parish Share rises; this is the amount each parish is asked to contribute to the overall diocesan budget. It comes back into the parish in the form of the clergy and all the central support that we benefit from, which is considerable.

In short we struggle in the parish to make ends meet, and this year we have a deficit budget.

We are lucky enough to have some capital investments and we use the income from those, but it is not a healthy situation when regular outgoings exceed regular income - as Mr Micawber observed!

So every now and then we ask everyone to review their giving to the church. This may well be only a part of your charitable giving but I would ask you to think seriously about whether you can give more. When did you last increase the amount you give? Is it a realistic amount? Costs go up all the time for the church as well as in every other area of life.

If you have been giving to the youth worker fund, the 3 years will be up around now. Thank you for that extra donation; I very much hope that now you are used to that level of giving that you will continue, but make the amount a gift to the PCC general fund, ie part of your parish giving.

The second thing I want to ask is to think about the way in which you give. If you use the Parish Giving Scheme, thank you and well done. It is the best way of giving. If you use the envelopes, or if you simply put cash in the collection plate, or if you have a standing order set up, thank you for your giving but please we would urge you to switch into the PGS.

The PGS takes all the admin of giving out of the hands of volunteers in the parish. It is mega simple for us.

It is also simple for you as long as you have a bank account of any kind. Through the PGS you set up a Direct Debit, so your giving comes to us regularly and reliably, whether you are able to attend church or not.

If you are eligible for gift aid, the task of claiming it is done for us and the extra money - 25% - comes back to us very quickly. This is a particularly onerous task when administered in the parish.

The PGS has a built in inflation level increase each year, when means that your gift will be worth the same amount to the church year on year. Without this it is worth less and less as the years go by.  If you can’t afford this increase you can opt out of it, and you will be offered the chance to opt out, each year.

You need have no concerns about who benefits from your gift through PGS; you nominate the parish of your choice and it cannot be used for anywhere else.

There are PGS folders containing the gift form to sign up. If you are not part of the scheme, please take one and read the information and use it. If you should decide not to use it, please bring the folder back to church next Sunday for someone else to use.

There is a parish code to fill in on the form: it is 4 letters: THRN for Thornbury. We will put it in the newsletter next week so don’t worry about forgetting it.

The folder also contains further information and little tokens that you can put in the collection on Sundays, as it feels awkward to ignore the plate -then anyone noticing knows that you give by DD through PGS.