Rector wants to sell off church silver
A RECTOR has said cash tied up in valuable church silver could be put to better use if it were sold off.Father Peter Macleod-Miller yesterday urged the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich to widen traditional thinking and restructure its assets rather than just appealing to parishioners to dig deeper into their pockets.
A RECTOR has said cash tied up in valuable church silver could be put to better use if it were sold off.
Father Peter Macleod-Miller yesterday urged the diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich to widen traditional thinking and restructure its assets rather than just appealing to parishioners to dig deeper into their pockets.
His comments come after the Bishop, Right Rev Richard Lewis, revealed the church faced a budgetary shortfall of £400,000 and appealed for more public help in terms of providing resources.
Father Macleod-Miller, rector of Barrow, Risby, Denham, and Great and Little Saxham, all near Bury St Edmunds, said more creativity was needed to help move the focus of the church away from money.
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“I have the full support of all our church wardens in saying that when reading the pastoral letter from our Bishop, we would much rather hear about helping someone else than looking after ourselves,” he said.
“It is very hard for parishes. We should be thinking more widely. Rather than digging deeper into individual pockets, the church should restructure to access some of its assets and use them more creatively.
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“The church is sitting on so much treasure that it has an incredibly sore behind. We need to make it more comfortable and free up some of its tremendous assets to serve God through people.”
Father Macleod-Miller said the comments made by the Bishop should be viewed as a “great opportunity”, and selling off silver, for example, could help free up cash for donation to those in more need.
“It is much more than a one-off sacred car-boot sale,” he added. “We need a different point of view. We are sitting on a fortune and I do not want to be sitting on the same amount in 10 years' time.
“My vision would be that every parish could be involved in some sort of sacrifice, not just individually through giving towards the church but looking at the opportunity of doing something very creative with the treasure we have, like the communion silver.
“Communion is about sharing and sacrifice, and to give it away to help another person or community live will breathe new life into our own tradition.
“I would like to be able to sell it and liquidate the whole lot and apply the money to where it is really needed, through the Mother's Union or in Africa or Pakistan, for example.
“To be actually able to do something real and make an adventurous sacrifice would be fantastic and really liberating.”
And Father Macleod-Miller said parishioners could become discouraged if constant requests for money were made, saying: “It is like a crying baby - every time you put it down it starts crying again. At baptisms and confirmations, we will not be giving a Bible but a book about fundraising.
“I think it will be a shame if it appeared the church was after more money. I am sure that I am not the only priest who would gladly take a pay cut if we thought the money would really be used where it is needed - in saving lives, or in ministry to people or in youth worker training. We need a structural as well as an individual change.”
But Nick Clarke, diocese spokesman, said: “You can only sell the parish silver once.
“One of the things the staff at the diocesan office have done over the last nine years is to build investment up from total assets of £20million to £75m. It is all about investing for the future to gain an income.”
Mr Clarke added that 100 parishes had paid the full sum pledged, while the county's remaining 350 would be asked to look again to see if they could contribute a larger amount.