Last year we published our well received DVD on Parish Share. This short video highlighted encouraging stories of how we use parish share to fund mission and ministry in every parish in our diocese. But what is it like for them one year on. We went back to each parish.
This week – St George’s Everton
“It came as a surprise to me that our parish is now the third most deprived in the country and the most in our diocese”. Sitting in the vicarage, sandwiched between the church and its church school Rev Kate Wharton reflects on what it’s like to serve in a challenging urban environment.
On one level the figures, from the Church Urban Fund, are not all that surprising. Kate knew the high levels of poverty when she moved to the parish just over 4 years ago. But the stark reality of ministering in such a deprived parish served to highlight the nature of her calling.
It also serves to highlight the need for Parish Share. Without it there would be no Kate. No minister looking to serve, grow and develop church for the community. Yet paying their share, set at £8,000 a year, is very important to the PCC and church members. “we recognise that we are part of the wider church family and want to make a contribution. With such a small income our parish couldn’t possibly afford my stipend on their own. We need the generous giving of our diocese. Yet it is important to us that we don’t simply take. There is dignity in the giving – a response to God’s generous provision for us.
St George’s is an important church for so many.
The old community was dispersed during the 1960’s slum clearances with many moved to new towns and overspill estates. Yet their family heritage can be found at St George’s and the church is frequently visited by those tracing their connection to their home. It’s also frequently sought out by those who used to live here and now want baptisms, weddings and funerals to take place here.
The current community see it as an important symbol. A landmark. St George’s may have a small, fragile worshipping community but they are loving and committed. Through links with the church school, through establishing messy church activities, through the occasional offices connections are made and sustained. “people love to see that it is still alive, still there when they need and want it”
Then there is the heritage. The original Iron Church and one of the only ones in the country the Grade 1 Listed building attracts many visitors and heritage enthusiasts. The annual open day is a major occasion and the church is gearing up to celebrate it’s 200th anniversary.
But that poses its own set of challenges. “there’s a reason why so few churches were made this way” jokes Kate “and we see it in the maintenance bills. Roof repairs costing up to half a million pounds- despite the availability of grants – are a major financial burden. The parish needs to find £33,000 to pay their share of the first phase. The constant threat of vandalism creates a lot of pressure on us to keep the show on the road”.
Kate is proud of the church and community she serves. “It’s difficult. I recognise the hardships of our parishoners, reminded of them by our dedicated PCC members who are mostly from and live in the community. We are glad to be supported by our deanery and diocese. Proud to be recognised for our efforts. It’s good to be part of the great things God is doing in communities such as this.”
Parish Share enables this to happen. Without your contribution the Diocese of Liverpool could not support the ministry of people like Kate. The parish alone cannot support it and that would be a significant loss.