‘Tis the season of giving and receiving and we are told that it is better to give than to receive. God loves a cheerful giver, so why are there so many moans about giving in Church to meet our Parish Share? How else do we expect our ministers to be paid and supported in their ministry, or future ministers to be trained to serve those coming along behind us? The only “aid” we have from Central Government is “Gift Aid”, but if we don’t give we can’t receive it!

Stewardship is an important part of our being Christians, so why do some people spend more on their mobile phones or TV subscriptions than they do on the maintenance of their church and its ministry? What does that say about their priorities?

It is not just individuals either. Some PCCs in Milton Keynes have taken the view that they do not want to pay their parish share in full this coming year. All that will lead to is a decline in the ministry resources that will be directed to them in future years. You can’t expect to get to Euston if you only pay the fare to Watford!

Yet other churches, some with meagre resources, or small congregations, do their utmost to meet their parish share and don’t bellyache about it.

The Bishop of Oxford has MK as one of his six priorities for mission in the period up to 2025. That is controversial in some areas of the Diocese. If those areas realise that MK is not paying its way (and currently it is not meeting 100% of its Parish Share), then quite understandably there will be resistance to this aim of Bishop Steven’s, and we will be the losers.

So, remember the season, and please pay-up what your parish is assessed for, without complaining about the small print. No taxation system is 100% fair despite a lot of effort in trying to make it so within the Oxford Diocese. If you don’t believe me then attend one of the Financial Consultation Events (usually held around March).

The Diocese has subscribed to the Parish Giving Scheme, and at a Deanery Synod Meeting soon we plan to have a presentation about the scheme from the Diocese’s Generous Giving Advisor. It has definite cash-flow benefits for every parish which joins up. In Liverpool Diocese church contributions increased by 57% on its introduction there. That increase would not only fund the annual increase in Parish Share expectations but give each parish more income to spend on its own mission projects.

Happy Christmas and a Generous New Year.

David Thom.

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