Supporting a generous culture
By Grant Forrest, Chief Executive, PGS
We have all come to know the name Marcus Rashford over this last year for many different reasons, whether you watched the nail-biting moments of penalties in the Euros final or you have seen his generosity, maybe even first-hand, as he campaigns for the provision of school meals. Marcus has become an inspiration to many, and his story of generosity can, in turn, inspire us in our own stories of generosity. The love he has for his neighbour draws similarities in the parable of the good Samaritan, and this gives a glimpse into how we can love our neighbour too.
The generosity shown in the parable equates to two days’ pay, and whilst Rashford’s two days’ pay might have a national impact, we need to recognise the value of generosity in our own circumstances. It’s not about matching up to the top of the Sunday Times Giving List but giving cheerfully within our own contexts.
I’m encouraged from speaking recently with Revd Chris at St James the Less, Bethnal Green, about how the impact of introducing regular giving through the Parish Giving Scheme has supported the development of a major building project that brings their facilities in line with the missional needs, helping ministry to grow and flourish. This is what PGS in parishes is enabling, seeing the Kingdom of God come through regular generous giving.
As I’m sure you’ll recognise from 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
It is with a cheerful heart that we enter into the spirit and gift that is generosity. In my personal experience, there is a great sense of peace when you find the God-inspired amount to give to a cause. As God prompts our hearts to give, it takes obedience to respond generously, and through this obedience we see lives changed.
Here at PGS we are seeking ways of living out the call to a life of generosity. Encouraging our team to find new ways to be generous, creating a generous culture. It is this generous culture that we see in young people like Marcus Rashford that will no doubt inspire the younger generation of givers of tomorrow to begin giving generously today. It is only right that we too play our part in leading the development of a generous culture.
As we prepare ourselves for the national Generosity Week campaign, we invite you to prayerfully consider the generosity that God is calling you to share in, maybe you will be drawn to a particular issue or a local community project in addition to the regular giving to our local churches. Wherever you are called to give to, may it be a life-giving and Christ glorifying opportunity for you and the recipients.
You can read more about the impact generosity and regular giving are having at St James the Less Church here https://www.parishgiving.org.uk/case-studies/st-james-the-less-church-bethnal-green/ and if you’d like to find out more about regular giving through PGS, visit www.parishgiving.org.uk or contact our team on 0333 002 1271.
Growing the Kingdom of God
By Grant Forrest, Chief Executive, PGS
I have joined a remarkable organisation. The trajectory of growth in member dioceses, parishes and regular givers are important benchmarks for the continued development of PGS as a valued service to our Church community.
Its real significance, however, lies not in the mechanism itself, but in the impacts that are made possible through committed regular giving.
The growth in uptake that we see with PGS is cause for both hope and confidence, at a time when so much is at stake.
As we enter a post-COVID era, the Church is rightly asking questions about its ministry potential. This ‘pause moment by God’, as it has been described by some, is important as we hear the narrative of ‘not wanting to go back to the old ways’. Maybe, in this pause moment, it is right to consider how a culture of ‘radical generosity’ could significantly transform our worshipping communities, our ministries, our work and our business.
Through the actions of radical generosity, generosity as taught through the Gospels, our communities are being enriched by the life of the Church. It is through radical generosity, in its many forms, that we will continue to see the Kingdom of God growing in our communities.
In my own devotions recently, I read the parable of the good Samaritan, often linked to loving our neighbour, but when we look closely, the love is shown through the generosity of the Samaritan. It is through radical generosity and building relationships that we find the fullness of life offered through Christ.
I’ve been reflecting personally on “how does an organisation that is somewhat ‘mechanistic’ in practice, offer generosity and share in the fullness of life?”.
We first have to recognise that PGS is more than just a mechanism; we provide a service that enriches the life of the Church through generosity. The phone service is a great example of combining ‘relationship’ with ‘generosity’, as givers speak to one of our team members. We encourage our team to connect relationally, being generous with our time. It is this relational aspect of who we are, that we value highly. We are aspiring to be generous and relational in our ministry of serving the Church through the community of the Parish Giving Scheme.
The passage I received in preparation for this role was, Genesis 28, 20-22
Jacob vowed a vow: “If God stands by me and protects me on this journey on which I’m setting out, keeps me in food and clothing, and brings me back in one piece to my father’s house, this God will be my God. This stone that I have set up as a memorial pillar will mark this as a place where God lives. And everything you give me, I’ll return a tenth to you.
As I begin my tenure at the PGS I am, of course, excited to see the growth of the scheme across the parishes and, for the most part, this is our principal opportunity. However, it is bigger than that, as the true opportunities ahead of us are in Kingdom growth. My response to this passage, is through questions; “how do we help create capacity, through the reduction of administration burdens, so that the frontline church can be effective in their ministry?” and “what does a ‘tenth’ look like for the Parish Giving Scheme?” so that we can, through partnership, see more Kingdom growth across the country. The future of the PGS needs to be rooted within the culture of generosity, relationship and community.
Over the coming months I am excited to be able to meet many of the Giving Advisors across our member dioceses. I look forward to hearing the stories of radical generosity in our churches seeing kingdom growth and the impact this has on our communities. We’ll share these stories with you too, starting with insight from Reverend Chris Newman-Day at St James the Less Church, to inspire, give thanks and acknowledge a generous God that provides more than we can imagine.
A message from our President
The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek
As the President of PGS and the Diocesan Bishop of the diocese where PGS began, I am thankful for the benefits and fruits of the scheme which have become particularly visible during the viral pandemic. At a time when financial issues for individuals, organisations and businesses have been extremely challenging, I am grateful for the consistent generosity shown by givers to the PGS.
Locally, nationally and internationally, people have been endeavouring to make a move towards digital solutions to stay connected across so many aspects of life including worship. Zoom meetings, Google Classrooms, gatherings on Teams, have had to rapidly become a way of life. Throughout periods of lockdown when church tourism and giving through the collection plate have inevitably declined, we have clearly seen the positive impact of the PGS.
The introduction of the online sign up for new givers in March 2021 has cut down administration and paperwork, and allowed people to support their local church without having to leave their own home. Planned giving through Direct Debit was able to continue without disruption throughout the pandemic, minimising the impact on our volunteer treasurers in our worshipping communities and ensuring that people's desire to respond financially to the unchanging generosity of God, could be enacted as simply as possible.
In the Diocese of Gloucester, and indeed in more than 70% of Dioceses across the Church of England, planned giving through the PGS supports our worshipping communities to live out the transforming message of Jesus Christ’s love and hope amid life's joy and pain. Thank you for all you have done to enable this.
As we take each step along the path from the recent lockdown into the emerging future, I once again want to express my deep thanks to Helen Richardson for all she led and enabled as CEO of PGS, and I am delighted to welcome Grant Forrest as the new CEO. He brings with him a wealth of experience in IT, technology and finance, and I look forward to PGS continuing to grow and flourish as Grant brings his gifts and experience to build on the past.
I want to thank the PGS Team for their professionalism and their dedication, and to thank each of you for you joining in with what God is doing, as we continue to pray for God’s Kingdom to come on earth as in heaven.