Friday, 9 December 2011

Outcomes of Giving

Recently I attended a helpful training session for curates about "Christian Giving".  It was well led by John Preston who is the National Stewardship Officer of the Church of England. One of the many motivational things Preston spoke about was the importance of communicating to the parish the bigger picture of what their giving achieves.  So rather than simply saying "we need everyone to give more because we need to pay our bills", Preston urged us to consider emphasising the outcomes of the activities that our giving supports. 

I decided to compile a list of our parish activities and then try to describe the outcomes of those activities.  It's rather long and may not make for enthralling reading but I thought it was beneficial to engage in this exercise, and I recommend it to others.   Here are the results of my efforts:

Activity: Sunday and mid-week worship with a variety of styles and times offered
Outcome:  Provides a place and a space to worship publically with fellow believers; facilitates the opportunity to grow in faith alongside others through word and sacrament.  Offering worship is one of our primary callings as people of faith.  

Activity: Choirs and music group
Outcome: Provides support for and leads the congregations in worship through hymns, choruses and carols. Musical ambassadors for the parish in the community and in churches and cathedrals around England. Provides an opportunity for young people and adults to use their musical talents and gifts in the service of others.

Activity: Parish Newsletter (delivered house-to-house)
Outcome: Promotes church activities and seasonal festivities to the community, reminding people that their parish church is here and available and active.

Activity: Magazine & Sunday notice sheet
Outcome: Keeps parishioners, whether church attendees or not, updated as to the current goings-on; facilitates communication and promotes a sense of belonging.

Activity: T4U & Care Link trips
Outcome: Welcoming elderly (and not-so-elderly) people for fellowship, speakers and outings. Promotes a sense of community. Holy Communion prior to T4U meets the needs of those who cannot get to church easily on Sundays.

Activity: Lunch club for those with mental health disabilities
Outcome: Providing a welcome and hospitality for people who are often marginalised in society. A simple meal and friendly conversation is a blessing to those who give, as well as to those who receive.

Activity: Care Home Friendship group
Outcome: Befriending residents and staff of the care home as a way of fostering relationships in the community through mission.

Activity: Wirral Foodbank involvement
Outcome: Provides emergency food to those who have fallen on hard times.  We’re continuing to donate food helping to get the Wirral Foodbank up and running, and looking into collaboration with other churches to provide a distribution centre for needy people in our community.

Activity: Pathways involvement
Outcome: Working ecumenically, this facilitates a listening space for people affected by crisis pregnancy and/or abortion, as a demonstration of God’s unconditional love. We also occasionally provide a prayer meeting space for Pathways and its supporters. Involvement includes prayer, financial support, volunteering as a greeter, as a counsellor, or being on the steering committee.

Activity: Sea Cadets and RNLI involvement
Outcome: Provision of chaplaincy support by the curate and vicar to the Sea Cadets and the RNLI, respectively. Hosting the annual RNLI service in our church.

Activity:  Carers & Tots
Outcome:  Provides a fun and safe place for toddlers and their carers, as well as giving the Christian leaders and helpers the opportunity to demonstrate Christian welcome, love and care in church.  Participants often feed into various other activities that happen in church, like the Christmas tree service.

Activity:  Uniformed Organisations
Outcome:  Provides a place for children’s participation in Rainbows, Brownies, Guides, Beavers, Cubs and Scouts, with monthly parade services for Christian worship, teaching and prayer.  Several leaders are church members. 

Activity:  AA meetings
Outcome:  Providing a place for people to meet and support one another in recovery from alcoholism. 

Activity:  Keep Fit, Zumba, Kung Fu, Karate, Badminton
Outcome:  Providing a place for people in the community to take up healthy activities; promotes physical health and well-being. 

Activity:  Saturday drop-in coffee
Outcome:  Provides a welcome and hospitality to the community.

Activity:  Charitable Giving - over 10% of parish income goes to support various charities.
Outcome:   Over the past year we’ve given over £11,000 of parish income to various charitable causes, providing medical assistance to the poor and the sick, care for the homeless and the destitute, support for the oppressed and those affected by natural disasters worldwide. 

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Overcoming Discouragement

So I've received a bit of criticism as-of-late, my training incumbent tells me.  It comes from someone who apparently doesn't like women priests.  A bit of character assassination. OK.  It's all part of the training, in my view.  I have to learn to deal with criticism.  At least if it's just that they don't like women priests, I don't have to take it personally (Lol).  Pray for those who persecute you (I tell myself).  It just seems so sad and ridiculous, and such a waste of energy to be so wrapped up in the male priest/female priest thing when there is so much else to do.  I debated whether to blog about this, but actually it's an important thing to say about my curacy experience, that some people disagree with my being in this position.  But not only has the national Church called me to this vocation, God has called me to this vocation.  I'm certain of that.  Here's some of Psalm 118, which seems particularly helpful at the moment:
Psalm 118
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
  his love endures forever.

In my anguish I cried to the LORD,
  and he answered by setting me free.
The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid.
  What can man do to me?
The LORD is with me; he is my helper.
   I will look in triumph on my enemies.

It is better to take refuge in the LORD
   than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the LORD
   than to trust in princes.

All the nations surrounded me,
   but in the name of the LORD I cut them off.
They surrounded me on every side,
   but in the name of the LORD I cut them off.
They swarmed around me like bees,
   but they died out as quickly as burning thorns;
   in the name of the LORD I cut them off.

I was pushed back and about to fall,
   but the LORD helped me.
The LORD is my strength and my song;
   he has become my salvation.

Open for me the gates of righteousness;
   I will enter and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD
   through which the righteous may enter.
I will give you thanks, for you answered me;
   you have become my salvation.

The stone the builders rejected
   has become the capstone;
the LORD has done this,
   and it is marvelous in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
   let us rejoice and be glad in it.

O LORD, save us;
   O LORD, grant us success.
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD.
   From the house of the LORD we bless you.
The LORD is God,
   and he has made his light shine upon us.
  With boughs in hand, join in the festal procession
   up to the horns of the altar.

You are my God, and I will give you thanks;
   you are my God, and I will exalt you.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.

Friday, 2 December 2011


Sky, Bear & Vik in Chester

Last week I was on holiday because my sister from Florida came to visit us with her husband and their 14-year-old daughter.  They had never been to the UK before, so it was quite an adventure.  We had so much fun together, going to London for three days, and to North Wales (Caernarfon) and Chester and Liverpool.  The weather cooperated with us, apart from the last day in Liverpool.  London was fantastic.  We stayed in Ealing and took the Tube into the city each day.  We were able to catch Evensong at Westminster Abbey one evening, which was special as my sister and her family belong to the Episcopal Church in the US.  Caernarfon was interesting - the public toilets there have bins on the wall of each loo for 'used needles'.  I've never seen that before.  The castle was amazing as ever, and the Black Boy Inn for supper was an experience not to forget.  In Chester we went to the zoo, which was more fun this time than I've experienced before because it was virtually empty of people and the animals were all out and lively! 

It was a great break - it did me the world of good, even though I did have to do a little bit of work while they were here... I conducted my first wedding, in fact!  And I attended a book group meeting at the bishop's house.  But about the wedding... I was fairly nervous, first one and all, but it went really well and I enjoyed it (I hope the couple did, too!).  Looking forward to the next one.

Now its Advent, things are very busy, Christmas and the new year is on the horizon, full of mystery and promise.