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2020 has been a strange year, not least from a church Treasurer’s point of view, and I have to admit that it’s probably been quite a bit easier than normal for me. With either no, or very limited services for most of the year there have been fewer and smaller collections to count, and all the work involved in fundraising activities has disappeared. When I compare the figures with previous years more than £10,000 less cash has gone into the bank account. Most of that would have been double-checked, so that’s an awful lot of counting that hasn’t had to be done!

This does not, of course, make me particularly happy – less money coming in means that we will not meet all our commitments this year, the first time that this will have happened for several years. By the end of 2020 our net income, after allowing for reduced expenses, will be about £17,000 less than in 2019 – unless there is a small miracle in the last few weeks of the year.

As I write this article, Nancy has announced the Gift Day initiative on Sunday 6th December which follows on from Bishop Julian’s initiative, ‘Call to Pray and Give’. Perhaps this will focus a resurgence of the generosity that we have seen from this Parish many times in the past, and maybe that small miracle could happen?

As a charity our Parish is, of course, not alone in experiencing a shock to its finances this year. For all of us the aftershock will no doubt be felt for some time to come and we will have to change and adapt to new circumstances. An example of this is right before your eyes – this is the last edition of The Messenger in its traditional form and I thought that it would be worthwhile to reflect on this from (of course) a financial point of view.

Firstly, the decision to move ‘online’ was not primarily a financial one – whilst the magazine was never designed to make a profit the printing costs (£5,000 per year) were covered by subscriptions and advertising income. However, circulation numbers have been falling inexorably in recent years and the time would not be far off where it might have become a true ‘cost’ to the Parish.

Rather, the imperatives of ‘lockdown’ have caused us to embrace technology in new ways and we have found that our message can reach a wider audience in a more timely and flexible way. There is still a place for traditional methods and I know that our Communications team are looking at ways of keeping in touch with those who do not have internet access. However, I think most of us accept that the internet is the future and that we must embrace it.

This is not to say that the change comes without cost. Here are just a few examples of our annual outlay: – website licence £445, ‘Zoom’ £144, online music licence £70 (a supplement to our live music licence of £600), high speed broadband (enables the streaming of our church services) £540.

Finally, and most importantly, none of the above would be possible without our volunteers, the value of whose work is incalculable. As this is the final issue of the traditional Messenger, I think it is appropriate that, whilst not forgetting all volunteers, a particular and well-deserved ‘thank you’ should go to David Bateman and Mal Garnett for publication and David Vollor for distribution. Without them The Messenger magazine would not have been the quality publication that it was, and will continue to be – online.

Andy Hampshire, Treasurer, Holy Trinity & St Mark’s