St Barnabas is part of the Church of England, but its local ecclesiastical district is the diocese of Southwark. Southwark is a very socially and economically diverse district which includes Wimbledon and Brixton. Each parish is asked to contribute its fair share to the corporate costs of making sure that every parish has a functioning church and a priest to serve it.
At a recent meeting St Barnabas’ share was assessed at £60,000 per annum, which means we are asked to contribute a little bit more than the poorest parishes but far less than the most affluent ones. We also need to pay for such things as heating and light, running an office and having the services of a committed and able musical director.
Our congregation’s social and economic diversity mirrors that of the diocese as a whole so we do not expect everyone to contribute the same amount of money and we are well aware that everyone’s financial circumstances are unique and decisions about charitable giving to charity personal, but we do need more help to continue to be thriving church.
The price of 2 cheap bottles of wine per person per week, or 4 cups of coffee, or one cinema trip or one gallon of petrol would transform our finances. And there is always gift aid to top up any contributions by another 28%.
When the diocese of Southwark sold the old vicarage site it could have used the profits to help needy parishes across the diocese or to help cover its other costs. Instead it ploughed the money back into St Barnabas by giving us half the proceeds and then building a brand new vicarage to replace the old. One of the great things about the Church of England is that sense of belonging and responsibility to each other in God’s service.