Monday, 18 December 2017

Church must spend funds so carefully

ALL the actions of our church communities should be led by prayer.

ALL the actions of our church communities should be led by prayer.

We start and finish our Parochial Church Council meetings with prayer.

St Mary’s Players start their pantomime rehearsals with the Lord’s Prayer and finish with the grace.

I’m sure that no one reading this will be surprised by any of these statements.

However, our churches are also having to function in what some of us might describe as the real world.



We are having to pay an growing proportion of parish share to the diocese as well as higher insurance premiums and energy bills if we want the church building to be a welcoming place.

In addition we need to maintain the church so that it continues to be available to the whole community.

I have previously described the Church of England as “the National Trust at prayer”.

Our Parochial Church Councils have a huge responsibility to maintain their churches, both for worship and as integral parts of the built environment.

The church in Ipsden is a medieval jewel. Fortunately, it avoided the worst excesses of the Victorian era and remains a beautiful example of a small church built in a series of campaigns between the 12th and 14th centuries.

The age and simplicity of the church, as well as the spirituality of a place that has been prayed in for 900 years, is what strikes visitors.

However, the age of the building also presents  challenges.

The conservation of this lovely building is beyond the resources and funds of the Parochial Church Council.

To overcome this funding gap, Ipsden now has its church Friends. As well as village residents, this organisation has reached out to former residents and those with emotional and family ties to the village and church.

This has widened the potential funding pool beyond this very small village. This is all to the good.

The Friends have raised a lot of money with successful markets in the Long Barn at Ipsden Farm and other events.

The Parochial Church Council has a number of conservation and restoration projects in mind. The Friends have already funded repairs to the belfry and other work.

The danger can be when non-churchgoers seek to modernise rather than conserve, restore and maintain.

An architect may come in with ideas of removing pews, installing dimmable lighting and adding a servery.

However, if the majority of the community doesn’t want these things then a clash is bound to ensue.

This is when the value of prayerful consideration comes in. Everyone involved in any church, chapel or meeting house should pray for guidance to square the circle between raising  funds and spending them sympathetically.



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