The level of provision of ministry in disadvantaged parishes and support for charities (and also the health of local churches) may be unexpected victims of the rises in electricity and gas prices. The domino effect is not difficult to understand, and has already been presented to me twice this week.
On Monday I had an e-mail from the Treasurer of one of the only three PCCs in this area which puts over £35 000 each year into our ministry budget. No, he said, it didn’t look likely that it would keep its support at the same level as this year (let alone offer the increase I’d requested) in part because it expects to pay £2 000 more on heating and lighting. I'm expecting this will be followed by further similar messages from others.
This morning at Matins I found today’s suggestion in the Prayer Diary from the missionary society USPG to be ‘pray for church treasurers, struggling to make the most of limited financial resources; pray that PCCs might find creative ways to provide financial support for world mission’, which I take to be (in part) a not very heavily coded plea not to be the subject of cuts.
The fear is that any form of external financial giving is often an early victim of pressure on church budgets. And, as well as creating severe problems for those we would otherwise support, we also know this isn't very healthy for us. The point is well made by our neighbouring parish priest who happens to be the one quoted in the introduction to this week’s topics in that Prayer Diary. Canon Ian Shelton says ‘Our church’s link with USPG enables us to be outward-facing when the temptation is to look inwards; keeping our link with USPG alive is good for us’.
Meanwhile, the picture is a representation of the ‘harvest of the sea’ created for Sunday's Harvest Festival at St Nicolas’, Great Coates by two children there.