Parish Offer – why living generously as a parish is so important

Published on: 6th June 2024

Image of school children listening to a story sat next to large wooden crucifix in church

When the rain came down in Bodenham earlier this year, and the River Lugg rose up, the waters inundated the church. The volunteers (pictured) turned out with sandbags and the worst of the crisis was averted, but this was not exactly the sort of abundance the fundraisers on the PCC were looking for. Despite the floods, Bodenham is among several PCCs (parochial church councils) that have already decided to make a Parish Offer this year that is over and above their target, demonstrating the call from God to live generously and support other parishes in the diocese. Similarly, the PCC teams in Tenbury Wells, Great Hanwood, Canon Pyon, Leominster Priory, Holmer, Ledbury, and Ross-on-Wye are among those who have sought to make generous offers this year.  These are all gratefully received by those parishes which are unable to cover the costs of parish ministry.


At Bodenham, paying the bills or averting a financial crisis comes first, and in a year of extreme flooding, which damaged the church, Bodenham has certainly had costs of its own to cover. Nevertheless, the PCC responded to the call to share the Good News and love one another by generously giving more than the target amount for Parish Offer. This generous church community still seeks to help others, despite its own challenges, believing in God’s abundant love. Rev’d Paul Roberts, Team Rector, explains: “We have committed to a campaign of encouraging increased and more generous giving over the coming year and hope to be in a position to be more generous. It’s important to support each other, especially those parishes which might be struggling to pay.”


‘Parish Offer’ is the voluntary contribution from PCCs to our Common Fund, primarily to cover the costs of parish ministry and ideally to provide support for other parishes not able to cover these costs. The Parish Offer encourages giving in response to God’s love for us.  For many churches, however, the challenge of raising Parish Offer often results in an annual headache for the vicar with the refrain that “it feels uncomfortable, rather like singing for your supper.” They wonder how, like Bodenham, they will afford outgoings, such as building repair and maintenance, or important programmes, like youth and family ministry, and also give generously to Parish Offer.


Thankfully there’s a lot of help at hand. Our Parish Giving Advisers, Rosa Speyer and Mark Simmons, are always happy to help PCCs with their decisions. Stephen Herbert, the diocese’s Finance Director explains how the diocese is managing the same balancing act, between helping to cover the day-to-day costs of ministry while also investing in programmes for the future. “This is an outworking of our shared life together in a rural diocese with many smaller churches and congregations,” he says.  “The diocese is using its reserves to maintain Parish ministry levels over and above even what is made possible by the Parish Offer, making up for those parishes who can’t afford to contribute more. To do this, we work hard to keep running costs to a minimum as well as maximise the returns from our investments.  Since 2019, we have been able to release over £3.6 million from our endowment fund towards the cost of clergy stipends. We have also allocated £1.25m to our strategic mission fund, investing in intergenerational missioners, Messy Church, school chaplaincy, and other local projects to grow and support the local church. And we work hard to raise funds from central church, like the recent award of almost half a million pounds for our youth pilot schemes.


“The plans for our diocese are ambitious. We want to see our churches grow, to enable young people to come to a living faith, as well as to maintain our beautiful church buildings. At the same time, we want to stabilise our current clergy numbers and make ministry possible throughout the diocese, even in small, rural communities. The challenge for Parish Offer is simple: how can we help one another?”


Living generously is about our collective service to God – one body in Christ.  If you’re interested in helping more churches in our diocese to grow, or simply want to explore what generous living looks like for your own church, do get in touch with our Parish Giving Advisers for support or visit our Generous Giving pages.


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