Generous parishioners at 'the Miner's Cathedral' have become the latest to sign up to a scheme to simplify giving.
Members of the congregation at St Mary's Horden have helped take membership of the ‘Parish Giving Scheme’ in the Diocese of Durham past the 500 mark.
The congregation has joined 32 other parishes to sign up to the charity, run nationally and owned by participating dioceses, that helps reduce the burden on churches in collecting regular giving through the use of monthly Direct Debits.
Nathan Bruce, the Parish Giving Champion for the Diocese of Durham said: "Since we launched the scheme in January 2018, we have seen a rapid uptake in parishes and their congregations getting involved.
"It’s great news that we can mark the 500th person joining the scheme here at St Mary’s in Horden. This is a church that might not be seen as one that would jump at the chance of embracing technology, but they have embraced the advantages the scheme brings with open arms.
"The benefits of the scheme include: significant reduction in the amount of administration required by church treasurers; eligible Gift Aid is collected and forwarded to parishes monthly; members are able to budget for their giving and can opt to increase their giving by the rate of inflation each year."
Fr Kyle McNeil, the Priest in Charge at St Mary’s, said: "We got involved because the parish had never engaged in any form of electronic giving or any opportunity for people to automate their giving through the bank - they were only able to give by cash.
"We had a number of people asking if they could give by standing order and we thought rather than do that with all the administration that would have required of us that we would go with the Parish Giving Scheme that is managed for us.
"Getting involved with the scheme has massively reduced the amount of administration we have to do and also means that the amount of cash and counting we have to manage is significantly reduced. Even more importantly, it has improved the church's cash flow as we are now seeing monthly returns of Gift Aid automatically which is a significant part of the monies we rely on to run the church.
"So far, about a quarter of the congregation have signed up to the scheme and across that quarter, giving has increased by 10% this year alone. This may not be right for everyone, but gradually over time I am confident that more and more people will want to take up this process."
Parish Treasurer Dorothy Hill added: "I have signed up for this myself as it makes my giving easier.
"Once you have done it, you don’t need to think about it, it just happens, increasing each year at the rate of inflation. In my church role as treasurer, it has made a huge impact on the amount of work I have to do each week."
Member of the congregation Joyce Harrison commented: "It's great not having to think about having money in my pocket.
"Even if I am not here every week, the regular collection means I don’t need to worry. In many ways, it allows me to focus on the service and not worry about the collection. I think this scheme is a win-win for all scheme members, but most importantly for the church.”