Reflections from a Church Treasurer
Church Treasurer, Maureen Richards, met with our Missions Resources Adviser, Brigit Kiyaga, to reflect on how the pandemic has affected the activities and finances at her church in Combe Martin. As a church they are a member of the Parish Giving Scheme and have continued to receive regular income in this way. Various digital giving mechanisms have also been set up, ready for when visitors can, once again, come in.
Read the interview:
Tell me about yourself
I am a retired dentist and have been since 2013. I am also a treasurer of St Peter ad Vincula church in Combe Martin. My husband Dave is also retired and he is a reader. We have lived here since 1989, so we are well established in the village and our children went to school here locally. I am also involved with the Christian Dentist fellowship and I am also on the Combe Martin parish council. I have two dogs and our favourite hobby is walking. I have three children who have all grown up.
How is church life looking for you at the moment?
Church life is very quiet at the minute. We have been very aware of social distancing. Over Christmas we set up the church with greenery and candles. People were going in independently. Our nativity scene was also set up in the South Porch and lit up so that it could be seen through the large glass doors. Figures going back to the 1950’s and 60’s and were done by a local potter and based on people who lived in the village. As a benefice we have a house group and coffee group running on Zoom. There is also a telephone service on a Sunday evening.
In what ways have you continued to reach out to your congregation and community?
We have now appointed a Mental Health worker, she will work right across Combe Martin and Berrynarbor. She is reaching out and we are hoping that we can train people in our church as mental health first aiders. Educate people in the community and also give support where that is needed.
What has encouraged you the most in this last season?
Just how much everybody has felt it important to keep in touch with each other. If anybody has been struggling a bit, there has always been somebody to pick up the phone, do something for them. Although we have not been able to meet in person, the community still seems to be locked together. We are also part of Christians Together, with the Baptists and Methodists in Combe Martin.
Can you share with me your experience of setting up online giving?
What we did, we went to the Parish Buying website. On that, if you go to the online giving section, there are three video’s there. What I suggest people do, you do it with somebody else sitting there. The three video’s, that were very easy to follow, if you watch them all three first, it will take you step by step through each stage. You will have to do a little bit of decision making. We set this up on our website and on ‘A Church Near You’. It is quite simple to do and you just need a little bit of patience. Online giving, text giving and QR codes are all available. We hope that when more visitors come again this will be used more frequently.
The vast majority of our congregation give through the Parish Giving Scheme. We set up the PGS when it first started, quite a few years ago. We have gradually encouraged people coming over to that. Over the last two years we have had 80% of our congregation giving through the PGS. The result of this is that our basic income has remained stable, which has been a big relief. Provided we don’t get any major problems, we are just managing along OK.
Do you have a word of advice?
Keep up to date with everything. When you think things are getting bad, just smile and think it is going to be better tomorrow. It usually is!
For more information on online giving, text giving and QR codes please get in touch with Brigit Kiyaga