An Advent Gift

by Michael Ford last modified 11 Dec, 2019 03:41 PM

This year the Diocese has received an early Christmas present, the gift of a 7% overpayment of their allotted share payment by a Wiltshire Church.

An Advent Gift

Original photo by Mike Love on sdgr.org.uk

Holy Trinity Tidworth, which is classed as a category E parish (smaller than average, with less ability to raise funds easily), gave the extra payment after they heard that the Diocese was trying to balance the books and that we had a one million pound deficit in our coffers.

The Revd Tim Laundon said that Holy Trinity had scripture for inspiration when it came to agreeing to pay more that they had been asked for:

“What really motivated us to be generous towards our Diocese and to give more than we were asked was the sense that we are the Body of Christ, and if one member suffers then all suffer, and if one rejoices all should rejoice.

“If our Diocese has roughly a £1 million deficit on approximately £14 million of expenditure this year then let’s call that a 7% deficit, which is a problem for us all.

“On our own, we can’t solve the whole Diocese’s problem but it’s not only one church’s problem to solve. As one small and poor church we are only one member of a whole body of churches across Wiltshire and Dorset - there’s hundreds of us!

"If even a few churches were inspired to give an overpayment of 7% in 2019 then this would not be a drop in the ocean but a groundswell.

“Equally, we are rejoicing this year that we were able to make a 7% overpayment, so rejoice with us as members of the body.”

But Tim said the Parish is keen not to make it seem they were telling other parishes to do the same as every situation is different:

“We were thinking of Matthew 6:2-4, ‘Beware of practicing your piety before others,' which seems to prohibit this sort of behaviour. So we really weren’t sure if we should be doing anything that might seem to be sounding the trumpet or even letting our left hand know what our right hand is doing. (We are the Body of Christ after all, so if we are the left hand and you are the right hand then perhaps we shouldn’t be telling you what we’ve done.)

“But then we realised that we don’t want to tell you about our own goodness, we want to encourage you to follow the examples that we are following; we don’t want to proclaim our generosity, we want to talk about God’s generosity and to remind one another of the radical generosity of Christians throughout the ages.

“Ideally we’d love to inspire you to outdo us and to go much much further than we can, maybe even as far as Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 5:41!*

"To explain our reasoning, this is what we thought... If you don’t know that we’re running this race and striving for the prize, or if you don’t know what you’re up against (we are Holy Trinity, Tidworth) then how can you know how much you will need to discipline your body in order to beat us?

"What we have done is simply to offer a gift; there is no precedent being set here and nor should there be. We have only given a gift to the Diocese in the season of Advent in the spirit of Christmas. A Christmas present is no longer a gift if it is received as a precedent."

Tim also said he wanted to say "Thank you!” to the members of the Diocesan Board of Finance “for all of the work that you do to enable us to have paid clergy and support staff.”

“We have given the Diocese a Christmas present this year and we have wanted to be generous because we believe in a generous God.”

*Matthew 5:41: 'And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.'

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