Text of Letter sent to all parishioners; 10 September 2022
As you know, I shortly depart St Benet’s to return to the Downside community, now renamed Community of St Gregory and accommodated in the grounds of Buckfast Abbey in Devonshire. Thank you for your generosity and support during my stay, which has been a great learning and enriching experience.
Looking back over the past eleven years, one of the successes which stands out has been the parish response to the diocesan Alive in Faith appeal where St Benet’s parish has raised £40,780 against the total pledged of £42,116, well in excess of the target set with the appeal organisers. At the time of the appeal, we were still a monastic parish, and the Bishop specially agreed that half the target surplus should be provided to Downside for their Ecclesiastical Training expenses, and £5,753 has been paid. Gift Aid has yet to be claimed for 2021/2 so these figures could increase. I express my gratitude to all for this collective success in exceeding what seemed such a daunting target at the outset.
With that major success to encourage us, and the transfer from monastery to Diocese imminent, we now need to concentrate on strengthening our own finances. As with domestic budgeting, the parish faces increased running costs, including maintenance and repairs to our church (listed building status is now a possibility) and hall. We must also plan for presbytery improvements as the building is dated, the parish office inadequate in scale and we lack facilities for small meetings.
Turning to the most important source of income, you the parishioners, I urge you to consider whether you could be even more generous in supporting the parish. I encourage you to make your donations through a STANDING ORDER arrangement with your bank or building society. As announced in the parish newsletter, we have a new bank account with Lloyds (details are given overleaf); those who already pay by Standing Order are invited to make their new arrangement with Lloyds sooner rather than later (without omitting to cancel your existing arrangement with the old Downside Abbey Account!) A GIFT AID DECLARATION form is also included here as we would like to claim back tax if paid on the money you donate. Many have already entered a Gift Aid Declaration – endowing the parish with that extra 25% which brought our ‘Gift Aid income’ as high as £5,000 in pre-lockdown years.
This letter is going to every family in the parish; thank you for considering my message and for your financial support. I recognise that there is never a right time to ask for more, particularly now when people are experiencing hardship, but I felt this plea should not be left to my successor. Your response will help the parish plan for the future as we face life post-Downside.
In wishing every member of the parish all the very best for the future, I’m mindful of Bishop Alan’s appeal for prayers, that we may continue our support for one another, and for the wider families and communities within which we live, into 2023 and far beyond. Prayers also for the School for Peace in the Congo and for all others to whom we owe our love and support, wherever they may be,
Dom Martin Gowman osb
(future address: Community of St Gregory, Southgate House,
Buckfast Abbey, Buckfastleigh, Devonshire TQ11 0EE)
Copy of Information for Standing Order and Gift Aid
ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF EAST ANGLIA
Registered Charity No. 278742
ST BENET’S MINSTER, BECCLES
GIFT AID DECLARATION
Title_____Full Name ________________________________
Town ______________________ Post Code _____________
I am a UK taxpayer and want to Gift Aid any donations I make in the future or have made in the last 4 years. I understand that if I pay less Income Tax and/or capital Gains Tax than the amount of Gift Aid claimed on all my donations in that tax year, it is my responsibility to pay any difference.
Signed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . .Date ……………………………
Please return this form to St Benet’s Presbytery, 2 Grange Road, BECCLES NR34 9NR
PLEASE KEEP THESE GIFT AID NOTES FOR REFERENCE AND NOTIFY THE PARISH IF YOU:
- Want to cancel this declaration;
- Change your name, home address; or
- No longer pay sufficient tax on your income and/or capital.
- 1. If you pay Income Tax at the higher or additional rate and want to receive the additional tax relief due you must include all Gift Aid donations on your Self-Assessment tax return or ask HMRC to adjust your tax code.
- You can cancel this declaration at any time by writing to the parish. The Diocese will not reclaim tax on donations made after the date of cancellation.
- The parish must record donations to reclaim tax; you can make your donations by Standing Order, Cheque or Numbered Envelope.
- Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Ad 2018, the Diocese will only use the information supplied by you to reclaim tax from HM Revenue & Customs.
- Information provided on this form, together with all other personal data held about individuals by the Parish and the Diocese of East Anglia, is processed in accordance with the Diocese’s Privacy Notice which is available at www.rcdea.org.uk/privacy or from the Parish Office.
Donations by Standing Order
This is the safest and most convenient method for you to make donations to the parish and for us to manage your generous donations.
We bank at Lloyds; our details are St. Benet’s Parish (Beccles) Account No. 7907 4762 Sort Code 30-98-97.
If you use Internet Banking, you will be able to make, amend or cancel a Standing Order yourself, at home, using our bank details above.
If you visit your bank’s branch, or write to your bank, give your name and address, your account number and sort code. Then use the parish account details above, together with the amount and frequency of your intended donation.
With a Standing Order in place – and if you are a tax-payer – you can increase the value of your donation by 25%, at no cost to yourself. Simply complete the Gift Aid Declaration above and send it to the Parish Office.
Many thanks for supporting your parish and making it possible for the parish to support you.
02 December – Report to PPC
Stewardship in Beccles Parish 2021.
My role on the Finance and Fabric Committee covers Stewardship and some aspects of finance.
It is difficult to progress as we have no indication from Downside when we can transfer our bank accounts away from Downside, Issues such as on-line banking and having a debit card are still outstanding. We still have a £5000 loan (which we do not appear to need) outstanding with Downside.
- We have received our 2019/20 Gift aid in the sum of £3450 and can now apply for 2020/21 for a slightly larger amount.
- I have prepared a Budget for the 10 months of 2021 and made estimates for November/December. I have been given the formula for calculating the various Diocesan Levies.
Levies against our Collections at Mass These cover Catholic Schools 20%, Priests’ Pensions 8% + £200, General Diocese Levy 8%, Ministerial Training 1%. These. are still to be paid. In December we have a National Catholic Fund Levy of 1.6% (approx). All are based on the 2020 Parishioners’Contributions to Offertory Collections. These levies total over 37% of our collection income – some £9,055 for this year.
Repairs. The largest costs remain to tackle the stonework some £10, 000, plus other defects. We propose to allow £12, 000 for 2022. There may be a need for additional provision for the Hall, as the works appear to be more extensive; these are un-costed as yet. This may have a bearing on the possible repayment of the loan from Downside!
Insurances I have not agreed what provisions to make for 2021 and 2022.
Training The new Officer for Stewardship, Mrs Sandra Portas, has taken up her role and has agreed to prepare the first nine Parishes in the Diocese for the four-week course on Stewardship. As we are not yet a “diocesan parish” we may not be taking the course until2023. I have written to Ms Portas, seeking her advice on what else we can be doing in the meantime to prepare us for the advent of Stewardship.
The subject of Stewardship was reported in the minutes of the Bishop’s Council of Laity in a very brief note, reminding us that Stewardship is about time, talent and treasure – four Parishes commented that “Treasure should not be the headline i.e., if time and talents are developed in the parish then treasure should come.”
Fr Martin hopes to speak with the Abbot in two weeks to discuss such matters as these.
Summary of Financial Assets.as at October 2021.
Current Account £31,666.
Deposit Account £28,439
Sub total £60,105.
Owing to Downside 5,000
Total Assets £55,105.
Bernard Segrave-Daly 2 December 2021
Stewardship – An Update
Presentation to St Benet’s Parish AGM; 15 Sept 2021.
As we come out of lockdown, we are invited by Fr Martin to take a good look at our parish, the way we do things, the things we could do better, and how we invite all parishioners to contribute their time, talents and skills to build up our worship, our activities and management.
Stewardship is not the same as stewarding, it is not about money, but that needs consideration too, It is about Recognising ourselves as Christians in general and Catholics in Particular.
We are no longer a “Downside Parish”, we are on our own as a Diocesan Parish
Under the Church’s definition of Stewardship, we are invited to:-
- strive to have a life of Gratitude for the Gifts that God has given us;
- tend to our gifts in an accountable and responsible manner;
- share those gifts with others;
- and return a meaningful proportion of them back to the Lord.
A few years ago, we carried out a Census of all our parishioners inviting them to tell about their many talents, skills, life-involvements and experience; it was not a success, as only a very small percentage responded to that specific request in the survey.
We are not trying to make anyone feel guilty about this! We hope that soon we will be returning to “normal”, so that we can develop a more social aspect to our parish life. We hope to work with Fr Martin to unburden him of some of the excess workload he has to carry.
Many New Burdens on our Parish
In the past year we have been inundated with considerable new work by the enforcement of laws covering Health and Safety, property maintenance, electrical and asbestos surveys, risk assessments, Insurance cover for our properties and public liability.
Now we have huge onerous new requirements under the Data Protection Act and the GDPR as well as child protection practice, all need to be reviewed and up dated regularly.
When it comes to finance, we have some very large elements of expenditure on the fabric of the Church and the Parish Hall as well as the grounds.
Under the heading of Finance, we are now budgeting to cover all known liabilities as well as facing up to the unforeseen possibilities that might hit us.
Four years ago, we agreed to raise £44,000 (under Alive in Faith) to get the Diocese funding of its issues in order. That will come to an end in 2022. It might be the opportunity to transfer some of that giving to safeguard the Parish against future liabilities.
Keeping the parish financial records could be considerably eased for our treasurer if the weekly collection could be made by monthly Standing Order direct from our bank accounts.
We will arrange for as many parishioners to sign Gift Aid and Standing Orders costing Donors no more, but claiming the Tax you have paid,to come to the Parish. Last year the Parish reclaimed £3,500; if more parishioners joined, we can claim even more from the Government!
In his letter to our Parishioners Fr Martin will be telling us that:-
“As we emerge gradually from lock-down there is plenty to stimulate our prayers, thoughts and initiatives, when it comes to supporting one another and rebuilding our community life. May this time be an opportunity, a new beginning, and fresh hopes for the future .”
The primary Purpose of Stewardship is to honour God and work together to build up our Church and its Community.
I would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this and any comments on my notes of 16th August.
21 October 2021
Stewardship Report – July 2021
In summary, the financial situation is:-
1 . The balance of the parish funds is in the order of £50,000. This is enough for our current needs.
- The Draft Budget for 2021 would suggest we have a surplus for the year, excluding the major works on the Church roof.
- The move to becoming a Diocesan parish may have some additional costs. However, Downside do not require the £5,000 levy; in fact, they have paid us £10,000 pounds of which £5000 is by in the form of a repayable loan; perhaps this could be repaid now.
- Diocesan support will not commence till sometime in 2022.
- It is hoped that the claim for Gift Aid will be completed shortly. It is expected to be approx. £4,000 to £5,000.
- The first action in the “Stewardship” campaign will be to invite people to sign up to Gift Aid .
- The programme to develop “Stewardship” will commence in October 2021.
- Stewardship is not all about money it is how we discern our Lord’s way of:-
- growing the parish spiritually,
- growing in faith,
- everyone contributing their talents and serving God in many other ways.
- We need to develop this definition to fit our vision of St Benet’s Parish as a Catholic Community.
12 July 2021
An Introduction to Stewardship in Beccles Parish.
- Stewardship has taken off in the USA and here in the UK in the Anglican and Evangelical Churches.
- In our Diocese there are no parishes involved ….yet!
- I heard from the Diocesan Treasurer that the Diocese intends to appoint a co-ordinator.
- So, this is a first for me, and for St Benet’s.
Stewardship in its simplest form, is the act of putting God’s priorities before our own. Good stewards give the first portion of their gifts of time, talent and treasure to the Lord’s work, in gratitude for his many Blessings.
I was a member of the Parish 40 years ago and re-joined after we moved here three years ago. I have been hugely impressed with the enormity of commitment and the even greater amount of time and talent given over to making the parish ”God Centred”.
I need to learn a lot more about ALL those things which make up our parish. If this is to take off and I am to be its leader, I will need to have a small team with which I can work and consult – and rely on their wisdom!
The Three Facets of Stewardship
A true understanding of Stewardship begins with taking care of and sharing the gift of time; it needs to planned in order to have the time:-
- to work;
- to rest and play, and
- to pray;
and should help to balance our physical, emotional, spiritual and intellectual lives.
Stewardship means taking care of and sharing God’s gifts; our talents are special blessings received from God which can be used to help others, not just time or money.
True Stewardship is taking care of and sharing all that we have and are, to the benefit of others.
The Spirituality of Stewardship
This means living out our commitment to be Christ-centred. Jesus Christ is God’s greatest gift to us. Stewardship tells us to share a proportion of our time, talent and treasure so that God’s gift, Jesus Christ may be given to those who do not know him.
Some parishes have seen Stewardship as selling a discipline to parishioners so that the financial burden of running a Catholic Parish should be shared according to each person’s ability to contribute.
There are issues in our parish on weekly collections being paid by standing orders and gift aided.
We need to agree our own priorities.
Notes of Presentation to PPC; Thursday 16 July 2020.