David and I have been reviewing the returns that church treasurers have sent us about the impact of the closure of church buildings. We are very grateful that over 70 of you have sent us information about your church finances. This helps us build up a pretty comprehensive picture, and think about how the Synod can best support local churches.
The biggest issue for local churches is the loss of income from letting your halls and other rooms. Many of you are also concerned about the loss of opportunities for fundraising activities. We understand that this is leading to concerns about your financial position. The picture on giving by your Members is more mixed with many churches successfully managing to encourage people to move their regular giving to online methods. Some have found this more difficulty and we are looking this in a bit more detail to see if there are any common factors. 16 churches have made use of the loan facility offered by the Synod to help them overcome cash flow issues and continue to pay their M&M contribution.
Looking ahead, many of you were concerned about continued reductions in the amount of lettings income on your finances. A number of you were not confident that all your hirings would restart. Although there was an understandable reluctance to quantify this, most treasurers were also expecting a reduction in membership numbers and giving. All of these suggest that you feel that there will be a lasting impact of the last few months, not simply a one-off reduction in your income.
David and I are using this information to work with colleagues in the Synod to look at how we can best help churches at this time. In line with our strategy about the strong helping the weak, our focus is on how to support churches with very limited reserves to fall back on. Firstly, we are looking at how we can provide some recompense for lost income over the last six months, Secondly, we are exploring how funding could best be made available to enable you to rebuild your mission over the next 12 – 18 months.
There are no easy answers or a magic money tree; but I expect that during the Autumn we will be able to share some ideas for wider consideration and based on that offer some proposals to the next Synod Meeting.
Many thanks for all you hard work at this difficult time