Parish Update - 25th April 2020

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.

Photo by Sandy Millar on Unsplash

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 b