Finance letter to churches
18 May 5.30pm
To all Ministers, Church Secretaries and Church Treasurers
We are all aware that we are in extremely unusual times and there is much uncertainty about the future. The closing of our church buildings has had a major impact on our life together and presented challenges to how we operate as a church. The impact on our churches has been varied with some not having the technical skills and resources to be able to offer any services and the only contact with members being pastoral support by phone. Others have been blessed with their online services being viewed by many more than they usually see in their Sunday congregations.
We have seen a similar varied pattern across our churches when it comes to finances. Some of our churches have been hit heavily by a fall in income, particularly where they have let their premises to other organisations and have now lost the rental income. The loss of cash offerings on Sundays has also affected some churches more than others. We know that other churches have seen their income mostly maintained and have come across some cases members have given additional amounts as they are spending less during the lockdown. Within churches we are also aware that some members have lost their jobs or are under threat of losing them whilst others have been able to work from home and have not been impacted financially.
Financial Support for Churches in difficulty
To help those churches facing the most severe financial challenges we have put in place a support package of grants and loans which are already being used by churches to help them through these difficult times.
We encourage churches in need to make use of these provisions. We are drawing on the Baptist Union reserves to provide this support, but our own resources are limited, particularly after we put £33m into the Pension Fund to help solve the pension deficit.
Update on Home Mission Appeal
In the context of Coronavirus, it is unsurprising that we have seen a 25% fall in the contributions to the Home Mission appeal in April 2020 compared to the same month last year. Faced with considerable uncertainty, and in some cases significant reductions in income, it is appropriate for churches to consider delaying or reducing their giving.
The Home Mission Appeal provides the majority of the funding of our collective work as Baptists Together, including the grant funding of churches and mission projects, the Specialist Teams usually based at Baptist House and the Regional Associations. The Regional and National teams have worked especially hard to support our member churches during this difficult period, but if the Home Mission Appeal faces a substantial drop we will have to reduce our expenditure to match in turn reducing the support we can give. This will be particularly challenging as we start the budget process for 2021.
This letter is to ask for two things:
If you have withheld Home Mission giving in April because of the uncertainty, we ask that you consider resuming your giving to Home Mission if your church’s finances are not looking as bad as feared. If your income has fallen, then of course it would be appropriate to proportionately reduce your giving level.
If your church is blessed with being in a strong financial position during this time, we ask you to consider making an additional gift to Home Mission to cover for those churches who are having to cut back so that we can continue to support churches, pioneering projects and other ministries through these difficult times.
As well as Home Mission, our sister organisation BMS World Mission is anticipating a similar financial challenge, so we encourage churches to likewise continue their support for BMS if possible.
Managing Church Finances during Coronavirus Webinar
We are aware that these times present many challenges for church treasurers, and with this in mind we have scheduled a webinar for Friday 22nd May at 1.30pm. We will talk about some of the practical actions that treasurers can take to support their churches in the immediate crisis and in planning for the future. You can join the webinar at https://youtu.be/y81_uSlI6hM and there will be an opportunity for Q&A to address the issues that are on your mind.
Our New President
Our new President Yinka Oyekan’s was commissioned on Sunday May 10th and introduced his theme for the coming year, “How do we grow from here?” (http://howdowegrowfromhere.com/). Yinka’s vision includes the vision of launching 100 new ministries. We want to be in a place where we can support these initiatives financially as they arise.
Acts 4 33 to 35: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
Thank you for your support as we seek to be Baptists Together during these difficult and uncertain times.
John Levick Richard Wilson
Honorary Treasurer Support Services Team Leader