Passers-by will have noticed that the east end of our parish church is once more encased in scaffolding, as we begin the costly work of repairing the chancel roof and replacing the lead which has kept wind and rain out for the last century or so. This is the third phase of the renewal of the whole roof: the nave roof was done two years ago and the south aisle the year before that. The first two phases cost around £100,000 - all money raised by the local church over the years.
As we were planning this new phase last year, we had hoped that we would have enough money available to complete the whole task. But since then two things have overtaken us - the rapid rise in the cost of metals, and the consequent spate of thefts of lead from church roofs. It is the second factor which has made it impossible for us to repair more than the chancel roof at present. Because of the number of claims for lead theft, as soon as scaffolding is erected the insurance on all materials, including all the lead already on the roofs, is suspended. In consequence, we must pay security guards to protect the building when the contractors are not on site for the entire duration of the contract, which will increase the cost by £30-40,000. What we had hoped would pay to re-roof the north aisle will instead be spent on "one man and his dog". The present work will cost us almost £90,000, at the end of which all the money we have been building up carefully over the years will have been expended. And we shall still be left with a fourth phase, the north aisle, to be done at some future date.
It will not surprise you, therefore, to know that there will be plenty of fund-raising activities organized to raise money for the church repairs, and we would beg everyone who values the existence of their village church to support our efforts as generously as possible. An analysis of last year's accounts shows that it costs £301 a day to keep the church running - but that figure does not make any provision for major repairs, restorations or improvements. Every penny of that money has to be raised by the direct giving and efforts of parishioners - contrary to popular rumour there is no outside money subsidizing the local church - and major projects require special events to fund them. We have an important historic church at the heart of our village, and we have no hesitation in asking people in the villages to help us make sure that it is still here for future generations. Please help us.
I make no apology for raising another matter for which I urge your generous support. With this magazine you will receive an envelope for this year's Christian Aid Week appeal, and someone from the churches in our community will call on you during the week 11-17 May to collect your gift. All this money goes directly to help victims of natural disasters - floods, earthquake, famine, drought - and man-made disasters, and to improve farming techniques and create small local industries for the poorest people on earth. A small gift can transform another person's prospects for the future, and money given to Christian Aid will be well used. So, please be generous, and if you are a tax-payer, please fill out the Gift Aid declaration on the envelope to increase the value of your gift by 28%.
Thank you for all the support you can give to Christian Aid and to your local parish church.
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About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.