Last week, during the Wednesday Mediation, I spoke of appreciation, not just of what we have but also of what we are missing during this time of restricted movement and temporary closures.

One of the things I am missing is visits to National Trust houses and gardens. I miss being able to pop up the road to the Weald and Downland Heritage Museum. I miss being able to pop into a church building, and of course I miss being able to meet with you all, the church in this place.

But missing being able to visit my favourite houses, missing being able to sit in a beautiful place and watch nature at its best, has not stopped me from renewing my membership of the NT, as tempting as it was, because I don’t pay to be able to visit, as much as I enjoy indulging my love of all things historical. I pay, I invest, to ensure that future generations will also be able to enjoy, learn, and appreciate the beauty of antiques, gardens, beaches and woodland. If the National Trust, and all other heritage charities, had to rely solely on ‘at the door’ entry fees to survive they would have folded a long time ago. During this period of lockdown, they are able to keep going, able to plan for the future, because they know they have a secure income, from people like me, who don’t look for an immediate personal return for our support, but who are happy to be investing for the future. Yes, I will visit my favourite haunts as soon as I can, but if I can’t visit at all this year, I will still consider the membership fee to be money well spent!

Churches are in the same position now. Regular giving, planned giving, enables us to look to the future, to be able to prepare for when we are once again throwing wide our doors and welcoming you, or the couple down the road who have had to postpone their wedding, or the family and friends holding a memorial service for a loved one whose life they couldn’t celebrate because of lockdown. Just as with the National Trust, there are still bills to pay, repairs to be planned for, less financially secure parishes to be supported through our Parish Share, just as smaller, less commercially viable NT Stately Homes in Derbyshire are supported by membership fees from me, way down south.

We are united when we put something in the collection bag, when we offer our gifts, I understand that, but collection bags won’t be available for quite a while, even after lockdown ends. A donation to the Church isn’t ‘payment’ for a service attended, it isn’t a ‘thank you’ for a sermon preached, it is an investment in the future of faith in this place, and puts us one small step along the path in responding to Jesus’ command to ‘Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations’.

Help us take big steps on the path by signing up to the Parish Giving Scheme or making a donation via the website. Let the Church have the security and optimism for the future that the National Trust has, from knowing that meeting in church or not, visiting Petworth House or not, we can all look to the future, to serving the next generation, in confidence and in faith.

Rev Sarah
Associate Vicar

Links to Donate online:

Donate to St Peter & St Paul, West Wittering

Donate to St Nicholas, Itchenor

Donate to St James, Birdham

Parish Giving Scheme:
Parish Giving Scheme Information

You will require the following information when joining the scheme:

Church/Parish name – St James
PGS Parish code – 10-0610053
In the village/town/city of Birdham
In the Diocese of Chichester

Church/Parish name – St Nicholas
PGS Parish code  – 10-1030079
In the village/town/city of West Itchenor
In the Diocese of Chichester

Church/Parish name – St Peter & St Paul
PGS Parish code – 10-0610080
In the village/town/city of West Wittering
In the Diocese of Chichester

If you require any further information please do ring your Churchwardens or Clare Blevins in the Parish Office on 01243 514057.

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