CAPTION: Church Treasurer, Mike Jefferies, met with the diocesan Mission Resources Adviser, Brigit Kiyaga, over Zoom

Overcoming Covid Challenges: An Interview with a Parish Treasurer

Posted: 14th December, 2020

Mike Jefferies is the treasurer of St Peter’s Church in Lamerton on the edge of Dartmoor.  In an interview with our Mission Resources Adviser, Brigit Kiyaga, Mike shares how the pandemic had a significant impact on their finances. Half of their income, normally raised by fundraising activities, was lost over night. After a request was sent out to the community they received generous responses and as a result the parish is today in a stronger financial position, with more committed income, than it has ever been before.

Read the interview here:

Tell me about yourself

I have been a treasurer in this church for about 20 years and churchwarden for about 18 years and previously a treasurer and/or church warden in other churches for a very long time!

What is the name of your church and where is it based?

St Peter’s Church, Lamerton. We are in the South Tamar benefice, in the deanery of Tavistock. I am also deanery treasurer for Tavistock. On one side we look out over Dartmoor, on the other side Cornwall. We have a great community spirit. We have built a new village hall costing over £600k, allotments, and work has been done on the church costing over £250k. It is not a wealthy community, but everybody works together and supports the church. They want the church to be there for them in the future.

How is church life looking like for you at the moment?

You can’t easily, adequately replace the personal contact; people meeting and praying together. However that doesn’t mean to say that people are negative about the situation. We are now trying to do other things. We are also trying to do a lot with the residential and nursing homes in the area. We have little services, where we stand outside the window and ask them to open the windows for us. We will sing and we will have a service there that the people inside can hear. There are a many things we can do outreach wise, but we just can’t meet inside.

What has surprised you the most in this last year?

Within a day or two of the lockdown happening in March, we decided to launch an appeal to the villagers. We weren’t overwhelmed with the numbers, but we had quite a number that wanted to help the church. Half of them were church members, but had never set up a Gift Aid, the other half were supporters and wanted to help. If you don’t ask, nobody can say yes, or no.

How did you ask?

I remember the dates, it was Sunday 15 March. We decided before the service that we had to do something because we believed there would be a dramatic change within days. Half our income comes from fundraising, we would lose all of that. We would also lose money from fees. We decided instantly, that within the magazine we sent out at the end of March, that we would have to put an insert in it.

The forms were prepared and went out to every member of the village who takes the benefice magazine. This was about a hundred documents and within two weeks we had an additional 16 Gift Aid commitments. Some were only £10 per month, but it all mounts up. Without that we would have been in desperate trouble. In addition, although we only have two services a month, all the church goers agreed to pay for four weeks and to cover the period that we were closed. Our collections went up from £5k to £8k in the current year and £9k in the full year.

We will almost balance the books this year, and with the full year effect of the new Gift Aids from the income that is already committed by people we will be much better placed. The fundraising will be the extra now; it won’t be the bread and butter. That will enable us to do a lot more. We are going into next year in a far healthier position, then we have ever been before.

Do you have one last piece of advice for parishes across the diocese?

It is never too late to get something started. We are a small church, we had 16 participants, and shortly this will be increased, I hope! Even for the small churches, this has been an opportunity. Times are tough and everybody needs to work hard.

For advice on fundraising, gift aid, digital giving and more, email Brigit Kiyaga, Mission Resources Adviser