Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Mental Health in Lockdown


I suspect that every one of us has had our mental health impacted in one way or another by lockdown. We’ve all experienced our normal routines being broken. Some of us are physically alone, the rest of us are only interacting face to face with a small number of people. For some of us there is the pressure of juggling work and children or finding that our jobs are more complex and demanding than ever before. For others there is the challenge of having very little to do. Most of the things we look forward to have been taken away. We are feeling sad at not being able to see friends and family. We have the fear that we or those we love may get the virus and be seriously ill and even die. Some are fearful for their future, for jobs and finances. Some of us are grieving the loss of people we love. It is hard for all of us, but for those already struggling with mental health when we went into lock down lockdown can represent a perfect storm.

On Sunday 3rd May at 7pm we are going to address the subject of mental health in lockdown, and to talk about it from a Christian perspective. We are going to have with us Dr Kate Middleton from the Mind and Soul Foundation. Kate is both a psychologist and a church leader, and is an expert on how science and faith interact in our quest to be mentally healthy. Kate is going to speak for about half an hour on how to stay mentally healthy in lockdown, and then I’m going to do an extended question and answer session with her. It will be hosted live on our Kerith Facebook page and then available to view afterwards on Facebook and on our Kerith YouTube channel

You can find all the details on our website, including how to ask questions. 

Please join us for what is going to be a really helpful evening, and be letting friends and family know about it too. 

Be kind and stay safe,

Simon.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

Kerith Finance Update


Last Sunday I gave a finance update which I thought I'd repeat and expand on in a blog.

One of the things the coronavirus has created is huge economic uncertainty: for governments, business, charities, churches and individuals. We don’t really know what the long term impact is going to be. Some are saying it is going to be a relatively short blip, others that we may experience something much harsher economically. I don’t know, and I don’t know what is going to happen to our church giving. What I do know is that God is in charge, that our hope is in him and that he is our provider. 

Our March offerings were £88,766, our highest offering of the year so far but around £13,000 below budget. We normally see a big spike in giving in March and April but this year the March spike has been smaller than we budgeted for. How much of that is coronavirus related we just don’t know, we will have a better idea when we see April’s giving. That means that for 2020 our giving is about £28,000 below budget. Interestingly although we are behind budget, our giving to the end of March is actually over £2,000 up on last years giving in the same time period. The reality is that we budgeted for a bigger increase in giving this year than we are currently seeing, rather than there being a decline in our giving. 

I want to assure us that despite behind behind our budgeted giving we are in a good place to not only survive but to thrive in the coming season.

First to say that although our income was £28,000 below budget our expenditure so far this year has been over £43,000 below budget. Some of that is down to the timing of when bills come in, but even taking that into account we are in a better cash position now than we were at the start of the year. We are also debt free, which is fantastic, and have around three months operating costs in our reserves which is a really solid place to be.

Even with all that we don’t know what is going to happen in the wider economic world and how that might impact our giving over the next few months, so we are taking steps to minimise expenditure as much as we can while continuing to fully resource everything we are delivering at this time. We have also made use of the governments furlough scheme to put on furlough nine of our staff team whose roles don’t exist at the moment because we aren’t meeting physically on a Sunday and most of our buildings are shut. For those staff the government will pay 80% of their salaries and we will make up the other 20% so they won’t lose out in any way. As soon as circumstance change such that these roles exist again we will look to bring these people off furlough.

I have three encouragements:
  • Let’s keep praying! We had a wonderful time last night at our online Kingdom Come prayer night. Prayer is foundational to all we do. That includes our finances so please join me in praying for us to have the money to do everything which God has put on our hearts to do. 
  • Some of us may get into financial difficulty over the next few months, or may already be struggling. If that is you please ask for help. Don’t be proud but humble yourself and reach out. We all have seasons where we are able to be the help giver and seasons where we are the one needing help. If you need help reach out to your small group or other friends in Kerith, and if they aren’t able to help the please contact us centrally. You can do that by clicking on the ‘I need Help and Support’ button on the front page of the church website.
  • Many of us have salaries which are relatively secure, and at the moment our expenditure has gone down because we aren’t going out for meals, having haircuts, going to the cinema or going for days out or holidays. Would you consider giving more in this season to help cover those who can’t give as much. People have already been incredibly generous, not only in the giving to the general fund but also with over £8K given to support people within Kerith who are struggling and over £22K given to Foodbank. Please think about doing this not only for Kerith but for charities which are on your heart and which would make brilliant use of anything you were able to give them at this time. I started writing a list of charities connected with Kerith but it began to get very long and I will only upset somebody by missing one, but if you know one then please consider supporting them.
To finish I want to tell you about the picture at the top of this blog, which I took yesterday yesterday while I was serving at Foodbank. Two British Gas vans turned up with a huge donation of many of our most needed food items, donated by a Tesco distribution centre in Oxfordshire. Who would have thought God would use two profit making organisations to provide us with the resources we need to be a blessing to our local community. God is our provider. He has never failed us and he never well. 

Be blessed and stay safe,

Simon