I am writing to all in our church family to ensure that everyone is fully aware of a challenge we are facing as a parish, and therefore has the opportunity to respond as they are able to, and feel led to.
As I shared in my sermon on 2nd October, in these early weeks as Rector I have needed to gain an understanding of various areas of church life, including our finances. I have become aware that, although St John’s Childcare is doing well – even post-pandemic – and more than covering its costs, therefore contributing positively to our finances, the picture is not so healthy when it comes to the ‘church’ aspect of our finances.
The reality is that at present we are not covering the costs of our buildings, our staff, our other running costs, and our ‘parish share’ – which is an amount of money we pay to the Diocese of Chelmsford each year into central funds, out of which they pay me as your Rector, provide a Rectory for the parish, and which also helps to cover the cost of other central services, from which we benefit.
Essentially, we are not ‘living within our means’, and as things stand, we are facing a potential budget deficit, or shortfall, this year of £25,000. We have no real scope to make cost savings of that amount, and whilst we do have some ‘unrestricted’ reserves, dipping into those to cover the projected shortfall would take them to an unacceptably low level. We are doing all we can to raise funds in other ways, for example through fundraising events and through buildings hire, but these alone will not raise what we need.
So, as I said on 2nd October, with the full support of the PCC, I am launching a ‘Thanks-Giving Appeal’ which we will be running throughout October, seeking to raise funds to cover our £25,000 projected shortfall for the year. However, whilst that is the amount I hope we can raise between us, I’d like us to focus not so much on that, but instead on thankfulness to God (which is why I am deliberately calling this a ‘Thanks-Giving’ appeal), giving thanks:
• For all God has done in the life of our churches over not just decades but centuries!
• For bringing us to this new season in our life as a parish and a church family
• In faith, for all God is going to do in the months and years to come as we are obedient to his call. And I am excited about all that is to come, as I hope you are!
As you can imagine, I did not expect to be writing to everyone on this subject so early on in my new ministry with you, and I realise the timing is far from ideal given the current cost of living challenges affecting us all to different degrees. However, given the circumstances it would be irresponsible of me and the PCC not to take decisive action. We therefore wanted to be open and transparent with everyone about our current situation, giving you the opportunity to respond, if you wish to and are able to.
We have provided an online response form which I would be so grateful if you could prayerfully consider and complete by Sunday 30th October. This is available here: APPEAL FORM. Paper versions of the form are also available at St Mary’s and St John’s or HERE.
I shared in my sermon on 2nd October (available to watch online on our Facebook page) that God is able to do wonderful things when we have even just a small amount of faith – as it is not great faith we need, but faith in a great God, and the tiniest amount of faith is enough! In fact, even before I publicly launched this appeal, I heard that someone had already generously given a gift of £1000!
So, whilst we face a significant challenge, I have faith that God is more than able to help us overcome it, and will also enable us to go on to do even greater things in his name and for the sake of his kingdom in the future! Therefore, as we give thanks together for all God’s goodness to us, I invite you join me in responding as you are able to.
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. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
2 Corinthians 9:7-8
With love in Christ,
Revd Jeremy Noles
PS. If you would like to have a personal conversation about anything in this letter, please do get in touch and I would be happy to do so.