8th July 2007 - STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY
Outline of talk by Mike Harvey (Treasurer )
focus on stewardship is not just about asking for more money, because
some may have to review their giving downwards, but rather an
opportunity to look at what and how we give something back to the
Church here at Seal. However, we are at a bit of a financial crossroads
and we felt it was appropriate to look at the money situation and to
give people the chance to reflect on this and their personal giving in
a more formal way. Some background information on our finances is shown
on various boards around the Church, (and in the leaflet, “Stewardship at St Peter and St Paul")
2. Précis of expenditure:
costs about £70,000 a year to run Seal Church on a full time basis, by
which I mean assuming that we pay a full stipend to the Vicar as we did
for Keith and his predecessors. In reality, Anne is currently paid at
two-thirds but is giving us a full time commitment, something the PCC
is very keen to redress if possible.
90% of our total
annual costs are effectively unavoidable unless we start cutting the
number or quality of the services or shut the Church Hall.
2007, even without adjusting the stipend, we are budgeting for a loss
of around £1,500 and this will increase steadily over the coming years
if we do nothing about it to around £7,000 per annum by 2010. This
also assumes that our income remains constant.
3. Précis of income:
budgeted income for 2007 is between £55,000 and £60,000. However, we
already know that some of this is ‘at risk’ with people having moved
away or died.
Nearly half of this income comes from
planned giving and a further 9% from cash collections each Sunday. The
remainder comes from Fees (weddings and funerals), fund raising, income
from investments, church hall lettings, the occasional legacy,
miscellaneous donations and so forth.
So you can see
how very important the planned giving element is to us as, with the tax
rebate (from Gift Aided giving), this accounts for over 60% of our
total income. Including cash collections this goes up to just over
70%. We also have a greater degree of control over these elements.
4. Value of planned giving:
pattern of planned giving at Seal is also shown on one of the boards
(and in the leaflet) – with some comparative living costs ranging from
the basic to the luxury end of the market. For those who are on the
planned giving scheme the weekly average is just over £8.50 – more or
less the cost of a book or a CD (or a bottle of spirits), whichever you
can best relate to. This equates to £37.00 per month.
some of us can afford more and some of us cannot – the important thing,
to my mind, is the principle of the commitment itself.
giving means just that, a commitment to pay a certain amount per week
or month (some are quarterly or annual) which enables us to rely on a
bedrock of income which the Church will receive whether or not people attend services and put money in the plate each Sunday.
This then allows us to predict with confidence what money is coming in each month and to budget our expenditure accordingly.
5. Value of Gift Aid:
also gives us the opportunity to use Gift Aid, which can currently
raise another 28% on top by way of a rebate from the Government.
However this will drop to 25% from April 2008 which means that our
income from this one element will reduce by over 11% (about £900 a
In order just to recoup that loss, everyone would need to increase their giving by around 2¼%.
course, none of us really know yet how we will be affected personally
by this new, lower basic rate of tax, but I guess that most of us will
be a bit better off.
Higher rate taxpayers can also reclaim the tax paid between the basic and higher rate bands through their annual tax returns.
6. Closing comments:
Please, therefore, give some thought to these issues:
If you give via the collection plate, would you be prepared to switch
to the planned giving scheme – if you feel uncomfortable letting the
plate go by without putting something in then this can be done by way
of the envelope scheme;
• How much do you think you should be giving each week or month and how much can you afford?
If you (or your spouse/partner) are a UK tax payer, then please give
serious thought to gift aiding your regular contribution (and, indeed,
any one-off donations) as the opportunity to reclaim a large percentage
from the Government is really too good to miss.
to prepare this short talk has given me the chance to reflect on what
the Church here at Seal means to me personally – the building, the
people, the music – is it worth supporting financially and, if so, how
much should I give?
Our target is to increase overall
income by around £15,000 in a full year, which will enable us to reward
Anne properly and to have a little room for manoeuvre going forward.
This represents more than a third again based on our current giving,
which is demanding.
The Diocese calls stewardship
‘TRIO’ (the responsibility is ours) and I agree that each and every one
of us is responsible for Seal Church and its finances, but I would
particularly appeal to any who are not currently on the planned giving
scheme to respond.
For response form, please click here.
SERMON FOR STEWARDSHIP SUNDAY - Anne Le Bas
You may have noticed that some new leaflets appeared in the church just
before our flower festival –church trail leaflets, (adults and children's
leaflets - downloadable here) which tell you a bit about the history
and features of the church. I’ve been meaning to write them for ages,
but that was the spur that got me going. It was fascinating writing
them. I’m not too bothered on architectural detail – the height of the
tower and the precise kind of roof we’ve got – but what does fascinate
me are the clues we find around the church about the people who have
worshipped here, the people to whom this place has been important. Most
of you have been worshipping here much longer than me, but perhaps, for
the benefit of those who haven’t met these characters I can introduce a
few of them.
Our oldest named “inhabitant” so
to speak, is of course, Sir William De Bryene – you can see his brass
up by the altar. The Latin inscription around him tells us Here lies
the Lord William de Bryene, knight, formerly Lord of Kemsing and of
Seal who died on the 23rd day of the month of September in the year of
our Lord 1395, to whose soul may God be propitious. Amen. He’s the
local bigwig, buried in the position of greatest honour in the church
according to the beliefs of medieval Christians. This place mattered to
him. He wanted to be remembered here, in the church he worshipped in,
and, no doubt supported financially. I expect the church looked very
different in his day, but some things would have been the same. Those
of you sitting on the south side of the church may be able to reach out
and touch the pillars there. They are medieval. Sir William De Bryene
might once have touched that very same stone…
we move on a few centuries we meet someone who I think was the ultimate
matriarch. Above the door to the vestry you can see a memorial to
Clemence Theobold. This good lady, who died in 1605 had seven sons and
nine daughters – they didn’t all survive infancy but many of them did.
And they must also have been inclined towards having large families,
because when Clemence died, the memorial tells us, she was mother,
grandmother or great-grandmother to 115 offspring. Imagine the
Christmas present list…!
I often look at that stone
and wonder if she sat here in church sometimes for a bit of peace and
quiet as I know many of you do.
Then there is
Maximillian Buck. I have a great fondness for him. He was vicar here in
the aftermath of the Civil War. I expect they needed a bit of stability
after all the turmoil of that, and they got it in Maximillian – he was
vicar from 1674 to 1720 – 46 years. There are lots of marks of his
influence here, and signs that he loved this place. His memorial is at
the back near the font. But this fine chandelier was given in his
memory too. And every week we use an engraved chalice and paten that he
gave. I love the chalice, partly because the engraver made a mistake in
the wording. He left out the first “h” in church and had to alter it to
squeeze it in. I wonder how he would have felt if he had known that 350
years later people were still noticing his mistake?
are many more stories to tell here, of course, but there are just as
many stories we don’t know. We’ve still got some old wedding registers
here from the early 1800’s – and what I notice looking at them is the
large number of people at the
beginning who sign their name with crosses. They couldn’t
write even their own names. But this place was here for them at the crucial moments in their lives.
church is certainly 800 years old, and it is quite likely that
Christians had been worshipping here in older buildings for long before
that too. There is an enormously long history, a huge legacy. Each of
those who came here did so because it mattered – not just the building,
but the spiritual support (and often very practical support too) that
the church gave them. Faith was important, the church was important,
ministry mattered. It made a difference to their lives.
experience here in this community is that faith is still important, the
church is still important, ministry still matters. Seal is not a sleepy
hollow. The picture you often get from the media is of the Church
declining not only in numbers but also in its relevance to people, but
that isn’t how it seems to me at all. I have found that there are far
more requests from people to get involved in what is going on locally,
far more opportunities, than I can ever hope to meet, even on a full
time basis. The schools, the local organisations, individuals marking
the big moments in their lives – baptisms, marriages, deaths – still
want this church to be there for them, as well as those in the regular
congregation who want to worship, to learn, to reflect and grow, or who
need support at moments of crisis. They want not only the old building
and the churchyard, though that is important, but the living support
and witness of those who are part of this church. On a regular basis
the government (and the opposition) call on the voluntary sector – and
that includes faith groups – to be involved in everything from schools
to care for the elderly and disabled, to community projects to
rehabilitating offenders to environmental action. We’re here, on the
ground, a group made up of people who are living on the spot, caring
already for one another and for other local people. It can feel quite
exhausting, but it is exciting too, and a great privilege.
harvest is plentiful, says Christ to his followers in today’s Gospel
reading, but the labourers are few (Luke 10.2) That can sound a bit
aggressive, as if we are going out with scythes to cut people down like
wheat and bundle them in whether they like it or not. But I don’t think
Jesus means it like that. What I think he is pointing us to is the fact
that there is work to be done, people who need what we have, people too
who have what we need, people we can learn from, and people who can
learn from us. There are blessings to be shared. Don’t believe those
stories of decline or of the irrelevance of the church – if it were so
I would have a much easier job – I really would be able to do this job
part-time! I suspect that sometimes we are unnecessarily apologetic
about the church. There is certainly a lot that we can apologise for –
nationally, internationally and locally – and times when we want to say
of the church “not in my name!”, but that doesn’t mean that what we do
here – all of us together – doesn’t matter. It matters a great deal,
just as it did to Sir William de Bryene, Clemence Theobold, Maximillian
Buck and all those nameless ordinary people who have found peace, hope
and joy here, and to the people of the present and the future who also
need this place, its ministry and its message.
takes time, talents and effort to respond to those opportunities, but
it also takes money. Mike’s given you the facts and figures – I hope
you’ll go away and ponder them and respond as you are able, so that we
can continue to try to do what God has called us to here.