‘…your fellowship in the gospel…’ (Phil 1:5)
August 14th, 2019
I have been the Pastor of Crich Baptist Church for over 18 years and it is the first time I have had to write a letter like this.
We are a small congregation of saints seeking to serve the Lord in this corner of rural Derbyshire, set in the East Midlands region of England. Our congregation is made up mostly of retired people and some of the few families and younger people we do have face considerable health and financial challenges of their own.
We have the use of a very serviceable middle/late Nineteenth Century Non-Conformist Chapel building in the middle of our village which facilitates our ministry, including our local outreach and, especially, our children’s work. (We will shortly post some pictures to give you a feel for the place)
Except that we learnt several months ago that we need a new roof and our considerable stonework needs repointing. The anticipated cost, as it presently stands, considerably exceeds our savings plus our ability to find the resources within our own company.
So I am writing to the wider communion of saints who pray for us and perhaps access some of the content of our website to ask if you would both continue to pray for us and perhaps seek the Lord as to whether you would be able to help us.
So, what have we done so far?
We have spent significant time getting quotations and exploring and testing out different options (including moving out of the building altogether/selling The Manse/scaling back the Pastorate). We have met with or contacted different individuals, agencies and friends with knowledge and expertise as we have sought to get a clearer picture of the challenge we face and the options we have.
We have held a Week of Prayer where we searched our hearts before the Lord and, amongst other things, lamented our lack of spiritual energy and fruitfulness. We have organised a Gift Month through April to see what resources we could raise among our own people. There is also the possibility of grants being available to us, given the historic nature of the building and its importance to the ‘village-scape’ of our community. The church owns some land which is in excess of our needs and which we may be able to sell. Loans, if we chose that course of action, would naturally need re-paying. We have also made some internal cost savings and implemented a voluntary ‘pay freeze’.
Given the quoted costs to carry out the repairs (plus the professional costs that we will incur) we estimate our likely shortfall to be in the region of £60,000.
That figure may change. (We would like to think that it may be revised downwards!). It is true the work here would not cease if we had to part company with the church building. The preaching ministry would continue. Our Internet work would also continue. But our visibility and identity in the community would be diminished. Plus, our ability to continue our children’s work in its present form, given the alternatives locally available to us, would be greatly hindered.
We appreciate that many believers are hard pressed in these days and already are giving sacrificially to support their own local churches, missionaries, and other Christian societies and causes. We cannot press our claim before you today based on the amazing evangelistic results that we are seeing. We have seen no great advance through our local outreach and that is a source of considerable grief to us.
But were you to entrust us with any gifts, we would undertake to be careful stewards. Moreover, we would aim before God to walk worthy of the trust you have put in us. We have chosen to use the service provided by a UK Christian organisation called Stewardship. You could therefore, if you wish to support us, visit the following Stewardship link:
Friends and supporters in the UK who pay tax, have the additional benefit of being able to ‘Gift Aid’ their donation. This enables us to claim an additional 25% from the UK Tax authorities, on top of the original donation, at no extra charge to the giver.
We appreciate the fellowship we have with you, and you have with us, in the gospel. We pray the Lord will preserve our lampstand in this community and surrounding districts, and that we may be able to continue to make a contribution to benefit the wider evangelical community. We pray too He will uphold you and bless your gospel endeavours and pursuit of holiness.
We will keep you updated on progress.
To Him be the glory,
Chris Hand (Pastor)