Dear Church Family,
As things have settled into more of a routine over the last few weeks, I am now in a position to give you some updates from the wider parish.
You will be aware by now that St Peter’s Hall is open as a food bank six days a week, serving as a distribution hub for Hutton, through the Council and in partnership with other agencies. We have had contact with over 300 households all requiring different levels of support. The team of volunteers have been magnificent in collecting food from supermarkets and suppliers, making up the 300+ bags of food each week, delivering at St Peter’s doors and to households, taking phone calls, liaising with the council and other charities each week and doing all of this with joy and enthusiasm. I couldn’t be prouder of the team – thanks be to God. You can find an excellent update from Brentwood Council featuring our own Lisa Whymark here.
The Parish Finance Committee met recently to examine the impact of COVID-19 on our finances and plans for the future. As soon as the lockdown was announced, we made some quick decisions to ensure we had money in the bank to pay the bills. This has meant that our Parish Administrator has been furloughed (using the government’s scheme to pay 80% of the wage bill) and we have paused our arrangements with our caretaker (and have taken other steps to ensure he is financially provided for).
Following the Finance Team meeting, Jason Manning, our PCC Treasurer, highlighted the current situation in a letter to the diocese. He writes:
“In normal times, our average monthly income is approximately £9000 with just over half (coming) from Planned Giving, Collections and Gift Aid (£5100). The remainder of our income comes from our Charitable activities: Hiring the hall, wedding income, social events and the like…We expect to lose £2900 (per month) of this income simply by not being able to use the buildings in the usual way.
In relation to giving, we are losing approximately £830 in collection income per month. We are not seeing (our usual) envelope giving of £500-£700 each month – this may come in later in the year but there is a chance it will have to be written off. Our income is therefore likely to be down in total somewhere between £3730 and £4430 per month.”
We have made the decision to delay our next two Parish Share payments to the Diocese, in order to ensure we have enough cash in the bank to meet our remaining financial obligations. We are working to save money on our utilities and on weekly costs such as cleaning equipment, clergy expenses, office sundries, candles, bread and wine. We are also applying for grants and financial aid from the government and other grant-making bodies. However, there is no doubt these are stark figures to digest and there are several key ways in which we are now asking people to help.
The first is to pray. We have already seen incredible provision from the Lord when it comes to the amount of food and volunteers we have access to. I am reminded of Luke 12:48, “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”
It feels to me that God has blessed us with more in this time of need in order that we might give it away freely and joyfully. It is a modern-day ‘loaves and fishes’ - we never seem to run out for those queuing down Claughton Way. It has been a time of faith and growth, seeing God’s provision each day. So please continue to pray – not just for the food ministry but for each other, for our parish and for those in the most need as we continue to serve and see God at work in our midst. Let's be generous with what God has given us.
The second thing is to ask you to reflect and review your giving if possible at this time:
If you already give to the Parish on a regular basis by Standing Order and are able to prayerfully consider raising that amount with your bank, we would be so grateful and able to continue our provision and plan for the rest of lockdown and beyond.
If you are a regular giver to the parish by either cash or envelope, please consider switching to Standing Order. You can set this up yourself by visiting or phoning your bank or by internet banking if you use it. Please find the attached instruction sheet for the church bank account details here.
If you are an envelope giver and cannot switch to Standing Order, then please could you send the envelopes to the Parish Office? Michelle Yarwood will collect them from your home. Please contact her on 07717 844224 to arrange this.
If you are a UK taxpayer, have you completed a Gift Aid form? If you do, we can claim an extra 25% on top of your donation at no cost to you. Please find a form by clicking here.
If you don’t currently give to the parish, could you setup a regular monthly donation? This could be any amount you like but I would encourage you to pray about what God might be asking you to give. The Standing Order and Gift Aid form can be found here.
If you find yourself with a bit more money in the bank at the moment because you aren’t traveling very far, commuting or socialising – could you donate some of that to help us at this time as a one-off gift?
If you are passing St Peter’s when it is open for food collection, could you make a donation using the new contactless card machine by the front door? Please also keep an eye on the website and Facebook page for how to donate online (coming soon!). Tell others about this!
You might be struggling and have less money than usual. If you need to give a little less (or even stop giving) at this time, then I encourage you to make the sensible decision and do just that. If things are really difficult, then please get in touch with me directly as I might be able to help you in the short term.
As ever, please get in touch if there is anything I can help you with – prayer requests, food deliveries or simply just a chat on the phone. Please sign up for the parish blog for weekly email updates. Go to www.huttonparish.com/blog to do this. The parish Facebook page can be accessed here: www.facebook.com/huttonparish for all our online services. The weekly pew-sheet can be downloaded here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/uz7nlbs6uaq2z17/newsletter%2026%20April%202020.pdf?dl=0
With every blessing,