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Letters Extra

Raising hackles
12 June 2014

The full implications of Westminster Diocese “Growing in faith” scheme are only just dawning on me as its imposition reaches my parish; Machiavelli would have been proud to have devised it.

Reluctant clergy feel obliged in obedience to their bishop to implement this command and then coerce faithful parishioners, who are too loyal to refuse, into pledging money for five years over and above their weekly contribution. I want to attend a parish meeting to raise my objections but am reluctant to make my parish priest's job harder which I am sure is just what CCS, the American fundraising consultants whose fee has not been revealed, rely upon.

The sad thing is that we would have gladly increased our financial support for our clergy without the sop of a cut for the parish, and it could have been achieved by our clergy regularly preaching on responsible stewardship, which would effect a fairer and more sustainable income rather than relying on a minority of susceptible parishioners to meet the goal.

I am sure this cynical initiative will be successful because most of us are compliant with the hierarchy but the end does not justify the means, and what will they do when this windfall runs out?
Kay Mason, Welwyn Garden City, Herts



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Comment by: Martin
Posted: 12/07/2014 08:58:02

Our experience of Growing in Faith at St. Joseph's Bunhill Row, on the edge of the City of London, appears to be markedly different from Kay Mason's. There has been absolutely no sense of this being imposed upon us, a lively parish without a resident priest, but pastorally supported, in a very committed way, by a neighbouring busy parish priest who is our canonical Administrator.

A small parish - 80-100 people attend our one Sunday Mass - we have had zero opt-outs from the original GiF pledges given. We have exceeded our early target of £60,000 over 5 years and this has already born fruit. We have allocated funds to support the work of Citizens UK in which we are active; Sunday, 6 July, saw the Blessing of a Lift to enable to our basement level church space and the 1st floor Parish Hall. This has not compromised our commitment to generous fundraising for CAFOD, nor our role as a Fairtrade Parish.

Because we have an effective Pastoral Council, which includes an ecumenical representative as a sign of our strong partnership with other local Churches, there has been a robust sense of ownership from all our highly diverse congregation. Rather than following discredited patterns of 'pay, pray, & obey', Growing in Faith has helped us live out our priestly role as people of God and missionary disciples, committed to promoting the reign of God in our local community.