Letter from St Oswalds
Hinstock Parish Council
ST OSWALD’S CHURCH, CHURCH STREET, HINSTOCK TF9 2TF
We held a meeting of the Parochial Church Council towards the end of last year. At the meeting, our Treasurer and Church officers briefed us on the very serious financial situation facing the Church. We decided to inform the Parish Council, who suggested we inform the Village residents. This brief message, therefore, outlines our current situation and what we are doing about it.
In summary, our revenue position is extremely challenging, and we shall not survive without increased external financial support. In short, we need to raise around £25,000 a year to meet the day-to-day costs of running the Church. Against this, fundraising has been much reduced this year as a result of the Covid Pandemic. There have been no weddings nor baptisms, and Church Festivals have been curtailed. Regular congregational donations continue but represent only a tiny proportion of what is desperately needed.
We approached the Diocese of Lichfield for assistance. The Archdeacon informed us that it has a considerable deficit to address and cannot help for the foreseeable future. The Church of England is in an even more parlous state, losing £150m in donations in the Pandemic. We achieved temporary relief at the end of the year of our regular Parish share (monthly dues to the Diocese). However, we must now begin our contributions once more. Other parishes in the local area have indicated they would like to help in a small way, though not directly and not for some time to come. The Parish Council is also severely restricted in what it may do to help the Church.
As to the Church’s fabric, the last Structural Review found several issues that we must rectify to keep the Church open and fully operational and not deteriorate further. We estimate the cost is likely to be in the order of £25,000.
In summary, therefore, the situation is extremely difficult and requires urgent action to resolve.
So, what are we to do? First, we are in the process of applying for a grant to address the necessary repairs to the Church building. When we know how far the various grant-making bodies can help, we intend to ask the Parish Council to call a residents’ meeting to address the situation. We will be asking everyone who lives in Hinstock to consider what shape an emergency appeal might take. We will also be looking at every possible fundraising activity that could help us raise the funds we need to keep St Oswald’s open.
If we fail to raise these much-needed funds, what will happen? We will have to consider a merger with a neighbouring parish or a change of use of the existing building. The worst case would be the closure of the Church altogether. We sincerely hope that you would agree that we should not take any of these steps. We say this because the Church remains a vital asset in our Village, where everyone is welcome and can feel safe. We also believe there is a strong wish for people who live in Hinstock to continue to visit the Church during the annual festivals of Christmas, Easter and Harvest Thanksgiving. There is also a requirement for the Church to continue to provide for weddings, baptisms and funerals.
Hinstock Primary School will also wish to hold their Christmas and Harvest services in the Church and visit for activities linked to their RE Curriculum. Importantly, in these troubled and uncertain times, the Church provides a space for families and friends to come together. It also allows each of us an opportunity for quiet reflection when difficulties threaten to overwhelm. Subject to ongoing government restrictions, there may be other reasons to continue our services.
With all this in mind, we must consider how we can save St Oswald’s. We hope and pray that there is enough support in the Community to ensure that this will happen.
Therefore, while we seek help from outside agencies, we would appreciate any suggestions and individual contributions from our friends to keep our Church open.
Reverend Christine Simpson, Vicar of Hinstock
Hinstock Parish Council
- 01948 841945
Find Hinstock Parish Council
Ivy Rose Cottage, Cruckmoor Lane, Hinstock, Market Drayton, Shropshire, SY13 2BS