“Read all about it! Read all about it! Whitkirk Church in danger of paying their Parish Share” so goes the headline of the ‘The Whitkirk Weekly Pound’, a new tabloid you will get a copy of as you leave this morning.

The Parish Share is our gift to the diocese. However it’s a gift that, in part at least, comes back to us. For the Parish Share pays my wages, my stipend, together with all the costs involved with having a stipendiary priest.

At the moment that costs is just over £50,000. Now I don’t get paid that but that figure includes housing (I pay for heat and light!), pension, training, council tax and water rates. I think I’m cheap. You may beg to differ.

St. Mary’s Whitkirk are at the moment invited by the Diocese to give £107,000 a year. It’s a lot of money. It’s more than my wages. But it’s an amount arrived at taking into account various factors, our regular Sunday attendance, a bit of on the socio-economic picture of this bit of Leeds and our income.

It is a lot of money but it is by no means beyond us, we are getting there.

In 2013 we paid £60,000.

This year we shall pay £90,000. That is truly good news and we have been able to achieve that increase for a number of reasons not least because many of you have increased your giving over the last couple of years however we are not quite there.

When the Giving Group met we looked at how we might shrink the gap and came up with ‘Pledge a Pound.’ We called that because if all of us increased our giving by just £1 a week we would meet our Parish Share.

So last week, I went online and increased my Standing Order by £5 (well actually a little bit more). It took a couple of minutes and whilst £5 is £5 it always coming in handy for something, I can afford to do it. I invite you, if you pay by standing order to go home this morning and do the same.

If you don’t do Standing Orders but would like to or even if you are not in the Planned Giving scheme but should be then information is available this morning.

Now you might be thinking well he has to do it, after all the Parish Share pays his wages. Well that’s true, but that’s not why I give.

I give because it is the right thing to do.

I give because I want to.

I give because in just a little way it helps in our work around this nation proclaiming the Christ who has called us all here this morning.

The Church of England of which we are part has a particular ministry to this nation. We are church here for all. For those who profess the faith and for those who do not. For the rich and for the poor.

I, as I know so many of you are, am deeply thankful for St. Mary’s Whitkirk. We are, as we say on our website, a vibrant community of faith. We are lucky. This is a special place.

However the Church of England is called to be a vibrant community of faith in every place and the parish share system is about enabling the church to do that, to be ‘A Christian presence in every community’.

So if you think £107,000 is too much, way more than the £50,000 it costs for me, then remember that the extra money we give, is our way of supporting the church in those places where the faithful, though they are often the most generous of people, are never going to raise £50,000. Though their need of a priest to create and lead a vibrant community of faith is great.

These are challenging times for the church. It seems to me that now more than at any time in the past we’re in danger of withdrawing from those places that cannot pay their way.

Through or giving we affirm what we believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is for all, not just for those who can afford it.

So pledge a pound a week more, pledge more if you can.

For some of you to give a pound a week more will seem like an enormous increase in your giving, but perhaps now is the time to do that.

For others any increase is impossible at the moment, money is tight, I understand that.

But for most of us perhaps, to pledge a pound a week more, especially when you consider what else you can buy for a pound these days is something we can easily do.

You might think that I am going on about money again. However it’s a year since I last preached on this subject, not too much when we remember how Jesus is pretty clear about the hold money can have on us. How it can become an idol that often subtly we can be enslaved to.

Jesus calls us to true freedom. Free to give.

I give because it’s the right thing to do

I give because I want to.

I give because in just a little way it helps in our work around this nation proclaiming the Christ who has called us all here this morning.

Read all about it! Whitkirk Church is in danger of paying the parish share. This time next year I hope to be able to say we’re on course to pay our share. Join me in making it happen.