A CHALLENGING YEAR FOR CHURCH FINANCES
"It doesn’t matter which business sector or public body you are in, the effect of the COVID 19 virus has severely affected businesses, charities, government bodies income right across the board and of course churches of all denominations have been hit particularly bad with the loss of traditional income sources such as offerings, hall lets and not being able to raise funds through their annual fundraising activities”, says Robert (Paton) our church treasurer who looks after our finances.
“As Convener of the Glasgow Presbytery Property Committee and with colleagues in Stewardship and Finance”, continues Robert, “we knew that church finances were going to be badly hit so we carried out a “Health Check Questionnaire” of all churches in the Glasgow Presbytery area and to our shock we found that circa £2m of income had been lost until the beginning of this year alone. Presbytery responded to this stark loss of income by creating an “Emergency Fund” to help churches in serious financial need as well as allowing churches to defer their “Ministries and Mission” monthly payments (this pays for Ministers salaries etc.) to help their cash flow. In addition, for this year, around 15% was taken off this year’s charges, all of which makes a contribution to balancing the church books”.
In addition to the above, Robert states that the “big church” (Head Office) has embarked on a radical restructuring plan across Scotland which in the Glasgow Presbytery area will see the number of full time posts fall from around 140 to about 85 over a 5 year period, apparently circa 40% of Ministers are due to retire in the next five years so whilst this is a fairly stark reduction it is hoped this can be done as painlessly as possible. The inevitable downside of all of this is that many church buildings will have to close with congregations having to merge or form unions. Robert says that this plan was about to be launched well over a year ago, but the COVID 19 virus has deteriorated finances severely and just like many other businesses and charities in the community we need to change too. Difficult decisions will have to be taken but the Church of Scotland has a strong asset base and can weather this storm provided action is taken swiftly and we all keep together.
“As treasurer I would like to sincerely thank all our church members who have maintained their offerings to our church as without that we would have been in a very dark place. We are certainly not out of the storm yet”, continues Robert, “but with all our churches now starting to open up again and our hall users now starting to slowly return we are certainly on the right path”.
The “big church” is encouraging all churches later this year to have a major fund-raising event where all funds raised will be kept locally (no payments to “head office”!!).
Many thanks again for your support on what has been one of the most turbulent times in living memory.