I have been asked to write a piece explaining why St Leonard’s Church is perpetually trying to raise funds.
The short answer of course is that, like any other organisation, we find that there is always something or other that needs to be paid for.
Some people believe that the Church of England has some kind of national pot of money that we can dip into, but sadly that is not the case. Our only source of income is whatever we can collect locally.
In 2012, the most recent year for which I have a complete set of accounts, our outgoings were over £35,000. This includes over £2,000 for heating and lighting, and nearly £2,300 for insurance (we must of course insure the building and contents, because in the event of any damage, we would be liable to pay for the repairs). If we need to redecorate, or to lay a new carpet, or buy new hymn books or update our heating system, we must find the money ourselves. St Leonard’s is not a big church, but it is still much larger than most people’s homes, and repairing some plasterwork, painting the interior of the church and replacing a 30-year-old carpet in 2013-14 cost around £10,000.
The biggest cost we have is what is called the Parish Share, a levy which pays for the cost of ministry and which in 2012 was £22,751. That includes St Leonard’s part of the Rector’s stipend and accommodation, and a share of the cost of training new clergy and of paying the pensions of retired clergy.
Our congregation on a Sunday is typically about 35 people. If we were going to be able to pay our way entirely from collections in church, each person, pensioners and children included, would have to put about £20 on the plate every week.
That is clearly not a realistic expectation, and that is why we need to ask people in the village to contribute to a beautiful medieval church and a peaceful churchyard which have been at the centre of village life for over 900 years. Actually, if every person in the village gave us 50p a week, we would have enough money and some to spare, which makes St Leonard’s Church remarkably good value for money as a resource for the village.
We like to feel that we are contributing to the life of the village at the same time as we raise funds; our fundraising events include the St Leonard’s Fête – probably the biggest social event in the village calendar – the always-popular Christmas Coffee Morning, and occasional ‘ploughmans and puds’ lunches, quizzes, beetle drives, concerts and other events which not only raise us some money but which are opportunities for people to meet and enjoy themselves. Thank you very much for all of your contributions in the past and please do continue to support us in whatever way you can.
Rev David Wintle