Almost £1billion sets new record for Church of England parish giving
Parish Churches across the country raised a record £953 million in 2013 to fund the mission and ministry of the Church of England according to statistics published today. Parishes raised these important funds from a combination of regular and one-off donations as well as investments and legacies.
Parishes have seen a combined increase in income of £24m over figures from 2012, and after total expenditure, which also decreased on 2012, saw a £33m surplus.
In addition to supporting the work of the Church at parish, diocesan and national level, Parishes have continued to give more than £46m to other organisations working around the world, from foodbanks and local children's charities to international aid appeals.
Dr John Preston, the Church of England's national stewardship adviser, said:
"With the latest financial statistics, we've seen average weekly giving rise in 2013 to our highest ever level. We rely on the generosity of our committed church members to support the mission and ministry of the Church. Post-downturn, people have really looked at what is important to them and found a sense of community and belonging within the Church."
Average weekly giving per tax-efficient subscriber has continued to rise year on year with members giving on average £11.60 in 2013. Average weekly giving per church member rose to £7 in 2013, matching the peak level seen in 2009.The average 'Church member' contributed 3.3% of their income to the Church. with 2.9% to general funds, and a further 0.4% to special purpose funds.
The information in the Finance statistics document is collated
from the annual parish returns, and is available at:
You can read a blog by John Preston on the latest statistics
The congregations of churches in the Diocese of Sheffield have worked hard over the last twenty years to promote generous Christian Stewardship and Giving in order to support the mission and ministry of their parishes. This work has mainly been done by a network of Parish Giving Directors working with their clergy and PCCs. The network was developed and resourced for many years by Mr Nick Hutton who was the Diocesan Christian Giving Director for over 10 years and part of the National Stewardship team. This work has helped many parishes respond to relatively high requests for Parish Share (as a proportion of parish income) to support the ministry of the stipendiary clergy in the Diocese including meeting the challenge of increased pension contributions whilst also resourcing the local mission of their churches. This hard work promoting Christian Stewardship and Giving has helped the Diocese of Sheffield, one of the most socially deprived in the country (37/40), to continue to maintain an extraordinarily high level of Christian giving. Now, the latest finance statistics suggest that church members in the Diocese are the most generous in terms of the proportion of their income that is given for the work of the church and the 8th most generous in absolute terms.
One of the parishes in the Diocese that has embraced the Christian Stewardship and Giving Challenge over a number of years is the Parish of Ardsley in the Wath Deanery. This parish on the edge of Barnsley is typical of many parishes in the Diocese. It has a population of 6,300 with a Usual Sunday Attendance of 55 adults and 8 children and is in the bottom 15% of parishes nationally according to deprivation indexes. Despite having a relatively high number of pensioners they have continued to give generously to support the mission and ministry of their church. Over twenty years ago the PCC took a decision not to fund raise through events but to challenge people to give generously out of Christian Fellowship. At the same time the PCC decided to demonstrate Christian generosity by committing to giving away 10% of their income to charitable causes each year. The parish treasurer, who has also held the role of parish director of giving, has managed to develop a high of committed christian Stewardship. Regular teaching about discipleship from the pulpit and in church groups has been supplemented with teaching using resources from the National Stewardship team and the Diocesan Giving Director.
Parishes in the Diocese of Bristol have given more to charity as a proportion of their spending than any other Diocese in the country. Rev Roly Bain is Associate Vicar at St Mary's Olveston, north of Bristol, and regularly put on events to raise money for charities and causes alongside the church's mission and ministry:
"Fundraising is very much an intrinsic part of life here. We try to make it fun and thereby make it an important aspect of being part of the local community.
"We organise a lot of events to fundraise for the church and also for a whole host of other charities, both local and overseas. There's always something going on, from cinema and quiz nights to concerts, harvest lunches and our big annual ball, appealing to a wide range of tastes and people in the community.
"Last year we raised £22,000 for outward giving, and our annual turnover is pretty hefty. But we got nearly £16,000 through Gift Aid, so my 'top tip' is to make sure you get people to Gift Aid their donations if they are UK tax payers. It's worth plugging away at it so it becomes second nature.
"Giving is a vital part of being a Christian," continues Roly.
"Sometimes there might be the odd jovial muttering that people can't afford to come to St Mary's because there's so much going on, but there are events to suit every pocket, and people aren't obliged to come. We hope they come because they enjoy it. Anyway there is a sense that as Christians it's about putting your money where your mouth is, and the congregation are very generous not just in their weekly giving, most of them by standing order, but also in the different ways they support the different events that we organise.
Rod Symmons, Vicar of Redland Parish Church which is also in the Bristol Diocese:
"Alongside our giving to the Diocese and meeting the costs of our own ministry, we have always been active supporters of mission partners in this country and abroad. Our annual budget has a figure of around £60K to support our mission partners, but we also have a Mission Gift Day, where we seek to raise money for other projects. This summer, for example, we have already raised around £15,000 which will be divided between our link Dioceses in Uganda (to help with clergy training), a vocational college in Tanzania (to provide improved facilities) and the Vine Trust (building houses for AIDS orphans in Tanzania, a project that we are sending around 20 church members to help with next month).
"One of my favourite illustrations of the generosity of the PCC for this kind of project came some years ago when we considered an urgent request from one of our partners for a loan of £10,000 to help to secure the purchase of the premises used for the training of African pastors in South Africa. "Why would we want to do that?" someone asked. I was a bit shocked, as I had really hoped that we would be able to do this, but the point of the question was if we had the money why would we loan it rather than give it? I have taught at the college on two visits to South Africa in recent years and I know how much that gift meant to the College and to its ministry."