Church communities receive no finance whatsoever for the care of their buildings. It all has to be raised from parish funds. The money that goes into the collection or that comes from gift aid is a major source, but it is not on top of other funds. It is simply how churches manage. Churches do not pay for their clergy; the individual is paid a stipend by the Diocese. The Diocese asks each parish to pay a contribution, known as the common fund. All Saints, on top of heating, lighting and building maintenance, has to find £10,258 this year to pay its parish share.
Clergy pensions are paid separately by the Church Commissioners, a body that invests the Church of England’s assets and also makes grants to the dioceses to assist them. Bath & Wells Diocese uses another £1½ million from fees, investments and reserves to maintain the administration of the diocese and to pay for outreach and mission as part of an annual budget of about £11 million .
This village is generous in giving financially, and I assure you we are truly grateful. We are also grateful for all those who may not be in church on Sundays but who do other things: the flowers, the cleaning, bake cakes, help at fundraising events, maintain the clock, create banners, make church furniture. You already do a great deal – we know that it takes a lot of work to keep the church building flourishing.
Churchgoers think of and pray for the people in their village, week by week, month by month, year by year. All Saints’ Church is kept as a place of peace and quietness for visitors and all those who wish to come in, a perpetual place of welcome and encouragement whoever you are and whatever you bring. We feel this is worth keeping and we think this village thinks so too. The church is a place where the rituals of birth, marriage and death are encountered. People are remembered and honoured, whether they come from the village or died in war. We look for God in the commonplace and the special. We can do this with you and for you, and we would like to keep on doing it.
However, the building is a responsibility and not a right, and we need help. Could you act as secretary to the PCC when Patrick Hoyte retires next year? Could you sometimes open and shut the church? Could you work with PCC members to make sure the gravestones are not dangerous by going round and wobbling them every three months? Could you take on the checking of the gutters, the inspection of the plasterwork, the looking at the pointing, the state of the windows? Or undertake to spend an hour or so doing the health and safety checks of the electrics and the fire extinguishers? Could you help with a fundraising event? Form a band of bell-ringers so that we can hear the bells more often? Undertake the paperwork and responsibility for aspects of repair, and work with the church architect and builders?
We hope you will come to fundraising events, we hope to welcome you at harvest and Christmas, and perhaps at some other services. Later in the year we are going to try a new informal service in the village hall with breakfast. Or you might come to a Songs of Praise service and maybe try a few new hymns. You never know, you might like it.
This is an extract from an address by the Rector of All Saints’ Church, the Reverend Caroline Ralph, given at a public meeting held in the church and in the village hall on 23 July 2018. The full version is available via the church drop-down menu on the village website or on this page