At the end of last week the Mission Area Pew News popped up on my screen — 12 pages of it. Someone must have been busy!
The first page was the usual stuff: names of people needing prayers; Sunday’s readings; thanks for emails and news of the on-line service from one of the eleven churches in the area. And there was a nice quote about ‘listening’ from the Henri Nouwen Society.
The second page was about Gift Direct. From this I learned that with this method “you, the giver, are always in control.” Of what, exactly? How my money is spent? I don’t think so.
I also learned that the Diocesan Board of Directors DBF have “approved measures worth over half a million pounds to support Mission Areas.” Which will be very good news for the Treasurer of our little village church. Despite valiant fund raising efforts that yielded over £1,000 in the year before lockdown we can either pay the bills for insurance, clergy expenses, electricity and churchyard upkeep or next month’s Parish Share, but not both.
Under the above photo the Pew News was followed by eight more pages of how to Gift Direct, along with an address label and instructions how to lick the gummed side.
All this stuff about money made me wonder what happened to the rest of that £10,000,000 the Bishop of Bangor gave us at Pentecost in 2018.** We know how Bishop Gregory of St Asaph spent £2 million of it: he bought a defunct clothing store in a shopping precinct in Wrexham, where there are already seven churches. This was odd in a way, since the money was intended “to focus on people not buildings.”
In fact, ten million pounds was supposed to “grow” Christians “in vibrant and exciting ways” and that’s why Bishop Andy looked so joyful and hopeful announcing this amazing gift.
It clearly hasn’t done that; there is nothing less vibrant than a closed and locked church! So I’m wondering what has happened to the rest of that money. Is it still sitting in the bank waiting to be spent? £8 million is a very large sum — probably enough to put technology in place in churches so that all services can be live streamed and the bishops will never have to open any of their church buildings to mere parishioners ever again.
It would be encouraging to know where and how those millions have been spent before we were harangued to give “more generously and efficiently.”
Are the Welsh bishops especially blessed or are there several other countries in the Anglican Communion where six Bishops have £8 million extra to spend on their members? The 2018 figure of 42,441 members in the Church in Wales is likely to be an over estimate in the present situation. I’ll make my sums easy and say 42,000 people now belong to the Church in Wales, which works out at about 7,000 parishioners for each Bishop. If they each took £1,000,000, leaving £2 million in the kitty as it were, that – at a rate of £190 per parishioner – should be enough to give the poor old struggling pew sitters some of that promised “vibrancy and excitement”. Once sufficiently excited we would be much more likely to give with greater generosity.
Ironically, the Pew News ended up with this statement.
“We are not people of fear, we are people of courage. We are not people who protect our safety; we are people who protect our neighbours’ safety. We are not people of greed, we are people of generosity. We are your people, God, giving and loving, wherever we are, whatever it costs, for as long as it takes whenever you call us.”
We are members of a very rich church but sadly we are led by some pretty duff bishops who have little financial acumen and seem capable of scandalously poor stewardship.
** I blogged about that back in June 2018 under the title “Golly, What a lot of Jolly Lolly”.