We have attempted answers here to any questions you may have about St Mary’s Autumn 2022 stewardship appeal.

If you don’t find the answer to your question, please contact us. We’ll get back to you and add your question to this page.

  1. What’s the problem?
    1. Why is St Mary’s in such financial difficulty?
    2. How much does St Mary’s get from the government and the Church of England?
    3. Isn’t the Church of England rich?
    4. St Mary’s doesn’t look like it’s in financial difficulties …
    5. Where did the money come from for all the work that’s been done recently?
    6. What happens to the fees that are payed for weddings and funerals?
  2. Why should I help? What will happen if things don’t improve?
    1. What will happen if St Mary’s can’t increase its income?
    2. Would St Mary’s have to close?
    3. What value does the church give to the community?
  3. What is St Mary’s doing about it?
  4. How can I help?
    1. What is the best way for me to give to St Mary’s?
    2. What should I give?
    3. Can I give to specific projects?
    4. What about tithing?
    5. I already give via PGS how can I increase my giving, index link it or join the Gift Aid scheme?
    6. I currently give via standing order from my bank, is this ok?
    7. I’m worried about the current financial climate. What if I have to reduce my giving in the future?
    8. What if I can’t afford to give to St Mary’s?
    9. Please tell me more about the Parish Giving Fund

What’s the problem?

Why is St Mary’s in such financial difficulty?

The situation has been creeping up on us because of increased costs and reduced regular income as giving has steadily fallen behind inflation. COVID certainly didn’t help either.

Over the past 4 years the reserve funds (essential for any charity) have fallen so that we now find ourselves having reached the minimum level of reserves that the PCC (our Trustees) have identified as being essential.  A simple analysis of our current expenditure would indicate that there is little opportunity to reduce day to day expenditure without impacting disproportionately upon our ‘operational’ effectiveness and ability to deliver our Mission (see question on “what will happen” below for the kinds of things we will need to cut back on).

Our planned expenditure for this year is £159 thousand against a projected income of £146 thousand, this means that despite numerous planned fundraising activities and appropriate internal cost-cutting, we are projecting a further deficit of £13 thousand. In simple terms, we must increase our income by at least £13 thousand per annum to balance the books.

How much does St Mary’s get from the government and the Church of England?

Contrary to generally held opinions, it gets nothing from either. Moreover we have to pay the Diocese (Hereford) for the support we receive from them to the tune of around £70,000 each year.

Isn’t the Church of England rich?

Its wealth is mainly in land and investments. This generates a good income annually but that just covers national costs. The closest any of it comes to Parish level is in paying clergy pensions. We receive nothing at St Mary’s from the Church of England nationally.

St Mary’s doesn’t look like it’s in financial difficulties …

We are proud of that! We have recently put the building into excellent shape (see the next question) and we are a thriving, vibrant church supporting our community in many ways. We are fortunate to have teams of volunteers who work hard at maintaining and cleaning the building, our branding and image. Because we are a Christian Church we give a certain amount of our income away, for example, this year we have waived all hire charges on the use of the building for anything with a Ukraine connection. All of this creates the impression of a successful organisation, and we are. But our finances, largely unseen, are not in such great shape.

Where did the money come from for all the work that’s been done recently?

Entirely from legacies and grant funding. We were fortunate to have been left large shares in domestic properties by members of our congregation, those, together with some grants, awarded for very specific projects enabled us to complete the long awaited and discussed work on reordering the church. The work was long overdue, it was the first major piece of work to focus on the functionality of the building since 1878. We are now in a good place with a building that better supports our worship and the demands that are made of it by the town. You can learn more about leaving a legacy at https://rossparishes.uk/leave-a-legacy

What happens to the fees that are payed for weddings and funerals?

These are already factored into our calculations. Fees are payable for weddings, funerals and burials and are set annually by the national Church of England. There are two parts to the fee, one part goes to the local parish (PCC) and the other to the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF). These monies go to help fund local parish ministry. In 2021 Total fees received were: £10,622 – to the PCC (Includes heating, lighting organ use fees etc)  and £11,347 to the Diocese.

Why should I help? What will happen if things don’t improve?

What will happen if St Mary’s can’t increase its income?

The Parish “Offer” The biggest annual cost is the money we pay to the Diocese that covers the cost of ministry which we receive and need from them. You’ll find a lot more here on how the Parish Offer works. This would be the first place to look to cut costs but would inevitably result in a reduction in resources. In particular the number of clergy posts would be reduced still further, with increased workloads, resulting in an inevitable cutting back on what we do.

There are other part time posts at St Mary’s, particularly in administration and music. This would be another area to cut back; again this would be unpopular and would impact on the quality of the work we are able to do.

Fuel and energy costs would be the next place to look. St Mary’s is a building that is now in use all week by the church and the wider community. Heating the church only on Sundays is really no longer an option. Of course the first thing to do would be to reduce the temperature which would also not be popular. Ultimately we could turn off the heating altogether; that would reduce congregations and have an adverse effect on the integrity of the building.

Would St Mary’s have to close?

Of course, in the short to medium term, it is not credible that Hereford Diocese would let a vibrant church in a market town close. However, diocesan fiscal resources are now also very low and the Bishop is making it quite clear that churches must cover their costs. We really do need to address the problem now.

What value does the church give to the community?

As the Parish Church for Ross there are certain functions that we have to perform as a part of the Established Church of England; we are the church for those of faith and those of none. This, of course primarily involves being there for all town’s folk especially in the provision of Christening, marriage and funeral services and in times of need. In fact we go much further than that. Leaf youth group, Messy Church, Youth Choir, Toast & Toddle, Bereavement support, home visits, hosting and supporting the CRTD food larder, Job Club and support … are just some of the things that are there for the wider community and are provided free of charge. Of course they cost us, and that cost is born by the 2% of the population that attends and supports the church financially.

What is St Mary’s doing about it?

  • We have taken the decision to cut the money we pay to the Diocese in 2023. This has been a reluctant decision as it is not really a gift, it covers our expenses and we will not be covering them properly next year.
  • All members of the PCC have already reviewed and improved their giving to the church via the Parish Giving Scheme, index linked their giving and Gift Aided where possible.
  • The fund raising group is working harder than ever with an ambitious fund raising programme. This year we have set ourselves a target of £11,000 to be raised through the strenuous efforts of a small group of committed volunteers.
  • We are working hard with the Friends of St Mary’s who are also redoubling their efforts to increase membership. The Friends is taking on a new range of projects to help St Mary’s to maintain and develop the building. They are also joining the PCC in awareness raising during this campaign to the wider community.
  • We have rationalisation of overheads though in actual fact there is little we can cut back further without jeopardising the work of the church and its growth.
  • Securing grants for some activities and expenditure. Particularly for ongoing development of out building and its resources.

How can I help?

What is the best way for me to give to St Mary’s?

The most efficient way to give, by a very long way, is to use the Parish Giving Scheme and we’d like to get all givers transferred to this. This is a great modern and efficient way to give and you remain firmly in control of your giving; the process beyond the gift is managed for us at no cost, Gift Aid is automatically reclaimed on all eligible donations. Crucially, donors can also index link their gift thereby making sure that its true value is maintained.

You can sign up very easily online. If you prefer to do it by phone, just call 0333 002 1271 you’ll be taken through the process by one of their excellent and friendly team. Our PGS code for St Mary’s is 180618244

If you prefer to do it by post, you can pick up a Parish Giving leaflet from the back of the church and complete the form.

What should I give?

Depending on your current giving status we are suggesting a number of things for you to consider:

  • If you already give regularly to St Mary’s we are are asking everyone to consider an increase of 20%. Of course if you can offer more we’d be most grateful; if you can’t manage such an increase, it’s fine, please consider what might be possible. Depending on how you give at the moment we’d also like you to think about:
    • Switching your giving to the Parish Giving Scheme – this is much more straightforward to run and costs you and us nothing.
    • Gift Aid what you give to us – we can claim back a further 25% from the Government at no cost to you.
    • Index link your gift – that way your donation will be equally valuable to us in years to come.
  • If you are a member of our church community already but do not currently give we’d like to ask you to consider doing that. The current average monthly donation (after the suggested 20% uplift) is £75 per month. Of course, we realise that there are many different levels of commitment to the church and that financial situations differ; we will be most grateful for whatever you can afford. The Parish Giving Scheme is the most efficient way to do this.
  • If you are not, and do not want to be a member of our church community, but still have an interest in the ministry of St Mary’s, you can still contribute to our work. You could, perhaps, give us a one-off donation.
  • If you prefer only to support the fabric of the building, to help ensure that it remains for the good of the community, we understand that and have thought of that too. The Friends of St Mary’s exists for exactly this and you might like to consider becoming a member. Any donations to the Friends are ring fenced and used only for specific projects that help to maintain and develop the building. If you feel able to contribute regularly to The Friends, they are now using a separate Parish Giving Fund account for donations too.

Can I give to specific projects?

Yes, you can. We have received many gifts over the years with restrictions applied to how the money should be used, we are always delighted to receive them and remain so. In this appeal we are particularly keen to raise the regular unrestricted giving we receive as that is most helpful to us for the effective running of the whole church and for our financial planning.

If you prefer not to give to the ministry of the church but are happy to support the fabric of our historic, community building the obvious way to do that is by joining The Friends of St Mary’s

What about tithing?

Some Christian churches encourage their members to practise tithing which means giving 10% of their income to the church. This is based on biblical texts such as Deuteronomy 14.22 where God instructed the ancient Israelites to donate a tenth of their annual harvest to support the worshipping community and to care for the poor of that time. As Christians, the principle of this Jewish law is found in our commitment to supporting God’s work through the local church.

At St Mary’s we encourage people to give financially to the church in line with what St Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 9.7 “…as resolved in the heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” In other words, the amount you decide to give is between you and God and is an expression of your ability and commitment to his work in and through St Mary’s. It may be more or less than 10%!

If you already have an online account you can sign in and easily alter the amount you wish to give – it’s a simple process – a couple of clicks. You can also deal with Gift Aid and index linking at the same time. Or you can just call 0333 002 1271 and change things over the phone.

If you signed up some while ago on paper you can convert your account to digital. Call 0333 002 1271 it takes about 2 minutes and you don’t need any special information. If you don’t want to call them you can message them.

I currently give via standing order from my bank, is this ok?

We are very grateful for all donations and we thank you. At the time you began to support us this was probably the best way to do it. The Parish Giving Scheme is, however, now the very best way to give and we would encourage you to move to that. There’s more at the appropriate question here or on our website https://rossparishes.uk/giving Please consider Gift Aid and index linking your donation. You will need to cancel the standing order with your bank (again, very easy especially if you use internet banking).

I’m worried about the current financial climate. What if I have to reduce my giving in the future?

That’s perfectly possible. If you use the internet and register with the PGS you can amend the amount you give at any time with just a few clicks. If you prefer to use the phone, PGS have a very helpful team and they will amend it for you. Changes take effect immediately. The number to call is 0333 002 1271.

What if I can’t afford to give to St Mary’s?

We completely understand. We realise that everyone’s financial circumstances are different and that personal financial situations are particularly strained at this time. If, after considering our request, you feel you are unable to give to us we thank you, that is fine.

You are welcome here, however much you are able to give, and even if that’s nothing, there is no pressure to be or to bring to us anything but yourself.

Please tell me more about the Parish Giving Fund

They have their own FAQ page. You might also like to have a look around their website. They also have a very dedicated, efficient and friendly team and you can give them a call on 0333 002 1271.