an interesting initiative by UK churches.
Pledge Sunday is coming up, that time of the year when we ask our congregation and wider supporters to renew or to consider their financial committment to our Church. The Treasurer wrote the pledge letters this year, as we have no permanent vicar yet. There were 2 letters that went out, one to current pledgers, and one to those who do not regularly give. The message in both was fairly consistent and clear – we are a family, we have a need and we all give for different reasons.
This blog post is to answer any remaining questions that anybody might have.
- What is a pledge? – a pledge is a promise, think of it that way. A promise to us, and a promise to God.
- Why does St Ursula’s need money? – we need money to finance the day to day expenses of our Church, pay the salaries, pay the upkeep of the building and to support our charities etc. We do not receive any money from Swiss Church taxes nor from the Anglican Church in England. We raise it all ourselves.
- What is the difference between the Church and the Association? – The Swiss tax authorities used to allow tax relief on donations to our Church, but then several years ago they stopped allowing it on donations to religious bodies. Only donations to Swiss registered charities are allowed for tax relief purposes. So this meant we had to split our organisation and form a charity for those who wished to still get tax relief on the giving. The association was formed as a charity and is responsible for the upkeep of our buildings as well as the Charitable giving. It cannot pay for any religious services, but can support pastoral care in the community.
- So who should I give to? Basically we advise either splitting your giving between the two bodies, or if you are not eligible for tax relief in any case, then please give all to the Church, as the most expenses are in the Church, and if all pledging and donations go to the Association for the tax relief, we have a cashflow issue in the Church.
- How shall I pay? – setting up a standing order is the easiest way and also costs us nothing to receive the cash. The treasurer can also provide numbered paying in slips if you prefer that, and we also receive the money without bank charges if done electonically with the slip. Any payments made at the post office counter however carry bank charges for us, so really that is the least preferred method. Another alternative is to put your giving in an envelope and put it in the collection, but if you do that please include a note inside with your name if you want an acknowledgement.
- Do I receive acknowledgement? Yes, at the end of each year the treasurer will send out acknowledgements of the monies received by account that year. You can use the Association acknowledgement with your tax return. Some tax offices will still allow deduction of payments to the Church account too, so it is worth a try. If any tax office denies the deduction of the payment to the Association please contact the Treasurer for support.
- Are things really as dire as in the pledge letter? Yes they are. We have a small amount of people giving most of our income. In the interregnum period we are saving costs, so this is okay, but once we have a new Vicar and if we want to do some extra things like have a youth worker, or expand our work with refugees then we need more funds. We have been running losses for some years now, and our reserves are low. We need more people to join the circle of pledgers, we cannot ask more from those we already have, it is not fair.
Further info can be found on our website http://www.stursula.ch/Finance/index.html
If you have any other questions that have not been answered here, please ask them in the comments.
Today was the last service for Father Peter at our Church. Tomorrow he will board a plane back to the UK to start his hard earned retirement in Scotland. Peter has been with us 8 years, and many are sorry to see him go. He and his wife are also very sad to leave us. Switzerland is of course a beautiful country, slap in the middle of Europe with a top standard of living. They return to a country that is divided, and where many people live lives of quiet desperation. Little wonder they turn their frustrations onto the foreigner among them.
Actually that was a part of the sermon today. Sermons are available on our website if you want to take a listen. It was a good one today, so hopefully will be listed soon on the site
For the council we now have to start the search for a replacement. This is quite a process with the main focus being on finding out what our congregation like in our Church, and where they see us in the future. Then we need to draw up a profile of our ideal candidate plus ran an advert. The Diocese filter the applications based on our profile, and then at some point 2 people of our Parish along with other Church officials will conduct the interviews in London. Interviews are not expected before November, with the new Priest not expected to start before 1 March. The UK will have a new Prime Minister before we even do the interviews – seems strange really.
In the meantime we will have a series of Locums coming over, staying in the house, taking some services and enjoying Switzerland. Generally locums tend to be retired priests, but they always bring some variety and new wind to the Church, which can only be good. It might help us focus on what sort of Priest is the right one for us, or maybe what to avoid. We are not expecting a huge amount of candidates however, but we do not have to, as long as we get the right one.
So remember to pray for our departing Priest Peter, and his wife Shareene, and then to pray for the council as they go through the search process, and pray for the locums as they come to us. We need a lot of prayer.
Ever heard of a Nyckelharpa? If you have perhaps you are Swedish, or you were at our super fundraising evening with the Swedish congregation last night. The Swedes share our premises as in they meet once a month in our Church, and have been doing for many years. They were more than happy to agree to host an evening for us in our Church hall.
For Fr35 per head, less for children, the happy guests got a three course meal of typical Swedish food, as well as live musical entertainment from members of their group. Even their vicar played the guitar and sang along – he is a cool vicar. Another guy was playing the Nyckelharpa, which apparently he had even made himself. The songs were all sung in Swedish, but a good number of the 60 to 70 guests could understand them. Some people had come along specifically because they were learning the Swedish language and wanted to hear more.
For the rest of us, we stuck to english, or maybe swiss german, with the odd Skål and tack thrown in for effect.
Our enormous thanks go to the people of the Swedish congregation who put on a great evening, and worked very hard, before and after, plus donated all the food. Tack så mycket , vi har haft det mycket. Plus in total we raised Chf 2688 for our appeal fun.
If you would like to hear the sound of a Nyckelharpa then check out this video from Griselda Sanderson on youtube, where she demonstrates first the principles of playing one and then plays it. It sounds great.
The final reading in our series of 9 prayers.
Come Holy Spirit meet us at our crossroads
Acts 9. 10-19
Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias” he answered, “here i am Lord”. The Lord said to him, “Get up and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul. At this moment he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight.” But Ananias answered; “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints in Jerusalem; and here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who invoke your name.” But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is an instrument whom I have chosen to bring my name before Gentiles and kings and before the people of Israel; I myself will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name”. So Ananias went and entered the house. He laid his hands on Saul and said; “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on your way here, has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes and his sight was restored. Then he got up and was baptized and after taking some food, he regained his strength.
Listen for a word with a willing heart
Respond with prayer and action
Blazing God, your light is dangerous to us! You close our eyes so that we may open them afresh on a new world where grace and truth replace stones and hatred and we are dazzled by the bright love of your son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
Look and be curious – number 7 of our prayer series
Come Holy Spirit meet us at our crossroads.
Read the text with an open mind
Jesus went up the mountain and sat down there with his disciples. When he looked up and saw a large crowd coming towards him. Jesus said to Philip. “Where are we to buy bread for these people to eat?” He said this to test him, for he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Six months wages would not buy enough bread for each of them to get a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, said to him. “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many people?” Jesus said, “make the people sit down”. Now there was a great deal of grass in the place, so they sat down, about five thousand in all. Then Jesus took the loaves, and when he had given thanks, he distributed to those who were seated; so also the fish, as much as they wanted. When they were satisfied, he told his disciples, “Gather up the fragments left over, so that nothing may be lost.” So they gathered them up, and from the fragments of the five barley loaves, left by those who had eaten, they filled twelve baskets.
John 6.3, 5-13
Listen for a word with a willing heart
Respond with prayer and action
Providing God, help us ot recognise what children and young people are bringing to your Church so that the hungry may be fed. May we lose nothing of their openness and engagement and may we too discover a childlike joy sharing your gifts with all who are in need and blessing them in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
An earlier blog post mentioned that we were trying to raise money this year in order to do some urgent energy related repairs to our premises. We have been blessed to receive all the money from one anonymous doner. However, even though we have received the 250’000 CHF we initially wanted for our energy and sustainability measures, we are still focusing on fundraising this year. The reasons why:
We are solely self-financing and our income is falling every year.
At the current rate of gap between income and expenditure, we will have only 3 to 4 years left before we will have to make drastic cuts.
- We need to raise at least an extra CHF 30 000 per year to stay where we are financially.
- There are still a lot of projects we could be doing if we had more money including new audio visual equipment, or more ministry work with refugees, youth and the elderly.
We have had some great ideas that we really want to carry on with including an Ebook where all our members plus a few celebrities can contribute letters and stories. We have also received support from fellow churches and will be having fundraising dinners with a Swedish and a Danish theme, and maybe some African themed ones later.
our website will be updated with all the news on the fundraising ideas and how people can get involved in the near future. A link to our website you can find under bookmarks on the right and direct to the appeal pages here
Our Church of the future will be warm and welcoming. Allelulia!
Quite a few people were late today, but that was OK. We are family. Easter Sunday is always a special service, with fresh flowers after the no flower period of Lent, and everyone happy to celebrate that the Lord is risen.
We have extra reason to be thankful as well this year. Our fundraiser announced in the first posts on this blog has been an amazing success even before it was launched.
Last week it was announced that we have an anonymous donor for the whole amount we were looking for. Alleluia indeed. This is incredible news.
We have also decided though to carry on with some of our fundraising ideas, as we are always short of funds, plus we have so many great ideas. We will concentrate on the best ideas to raise a bit more cash for all the other projects we have on the back burner.
The Lord is risen. Alleluia.! 🙂