Back in June, I wrote to you on behalf of the Stewardship Committee of the PCC to share with you the possibilities and potential of the upcoming few years, particularly in relation to the stewardship of our resources. As mentioned then, stewardship is a key part of our discipleship as a Christian which causes us to give thanks for what we have, invest in what we have now, and plan for the future.
We are currently celebrating the season of Harvest in which we give thanks for all that has been given to us. This letter is to give thanks to you, for all that you have contributed to the life of St. John’s and beyond, to let you know the result of the Stewardship campaign and to inform you of the vision and values the PCC have been prayerfully discerning over the last few months.
Thank you for the ways in which you engaged with the stewardship process back in June and July when we explored what it means to hold things in gratitude whilst being joyful and generous in the stewardship of our resources of time, passions, skills and money. Thank you to those who signed up to minister in new and different ways within and outside our community, from the tea and coffee rota, children’s work, welcoming, administering communion, AV, admin and much more.
Thank you for taking the time to reassess your finances and for adjusting your giving according to what is possible for your situation, whether it involved decreasing, increasing, moving or keeping your monetary gifts the same.
Lastly, thank you to all who behind the scenes are ensuring St. John’s is using the resources we have been given wisely, including (but not limited to) the PCC, treasurer, stewardship committee and churchwardens. This has involved introducing new policies on expenditure limits, how we claim our expenses from the church, changing how our accounts are managed, reintroducing tokens during the offertory and ensuring that where our money is invested is ethical and good value.
Result of the Stewardship Campaign
- One-off donations
This year, we were blessed with a number of one-off donations which, including gift aid, totalled £13,500.
- Parish Giving Scheme
In June monthly donations under the PGS amounted to £2,690. In September, the amount of monthly donations under the PGS had risen to £3,337, an increase of £647. We had a number of new donors to the scheme and several who increased their giving.
- Standing orders
In June monthly standing orders amounted to £2,367. These rose slightly in August to £2,404. This was a result of new donors and increases in giving.
- Overall ResultThe direct result of the stewardship campaign means that in this current financial year, the amount of income the church will receive will be increased by approximately £16,000 (as some of the donations will be eligible for gift aid this figure may be slightly higher). This is a wonderful result, which means that at the end of the year, the General Fund will almost certainly be showing a surplus rather than a loss as originally forecast. This is a wonderful response and such a witness to the generosity of God at a time when we know many are currently feeling the effects of the cost of living.
As mentioned in our previous letter, one of the reasons for the Stewardship Campaign was to not only cover our costs as a church but really think about how we might invest in the future of it.
Over the last few months, the PCC has been involved in discerning our vision and values which will guide us in this journey of knowing where we are to invest our time, passions, skills and money.
I have attached a document outlining our values, vision and mission statement to this letter for you to reflect upon and give feedback to us as a PCC. Speaking personally, I have been deeply encouraged and excited about the ways in which God has brought this vision about. Initially drawing upon the Parish Profile and questionnaire responses, which were gathered prior to my arrival, the PCC has engaged in an away day, alongside diligent and prayerful conversations at PCC meetings.
We hope that you will find continuity in what we have produced, reflecting who St. John’s has always been and done alongside new ways of being which will take us on a journey of being formed more and more into the likeness of Christ. After this period of consultation, the PCC will be discerning the priorities of St. John’s so that we might be the church God is calling us to be.
What does this mean?
In short, we have much to hold in gratitude and be thankful to God for. The God who has been faithful to St. John’s and Crowthorne will continue to be so through God’s own mysterious and divine ways, but also in the actions of those who have heard and responded to God’s call to be generous and joyful in our giving whatever that looks like. The journey, however, doesn’t stop here. God continues to call us forward so that we might be a community of people inspired by our faith in Jesus who are joyful, creative, inclusive and nurturing to those we encounter. There is much to be excited and encouraged about, and lots still to be done. We’d love to invest in a music director, our church building, our youth and children’s work, and other exciting initiatives. With your help and support, and that of God and our community, all things are possible. For all things come from God, through God, and return to God. To God be the glory forever. Amen.
Grace and peace,
Revd Laura Wheatley Downs
Vicar of St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Crowthorne.