Parishioners at flood-hit St Canice’s Church of Ireland, in Eglinton, queued up after Sunday morning’s 11 a.m. service to collect ten pounds each, which they are being encouraged to multiply to raise funds for the parish’s restoration fund.
The local Rector, Canon Paul Hoey, says the initiative is inspired by the Parable of the Talents, in Matthew’s Gospel. In this story three servants are entrusted with talents by their master. Two of them invested his wealth, more than doubling it, while the third buried his allocation and earned his master nothing.
St Canice’s is giving parishioners six weeks to use the money and their talent to generate even more cash for repairs to the church and its nearby parish hall. Both have been closed since being damaged in last summer’s flooding, although the church is scheduled to re-open next month.
“All we ask is that you at least return the money you receive,” Canon Hoey told his congregation on Sunday. “We’re not just doing it to multiply the money – good as that might be – we want you to use it in a way that blesses other people, so that they see something of God’s love.” He said people were already thinking of doing cake sales, organising charity football matches and other fund-raising events.
Almost £1000 was entrusted to parishioners as they left Eglinton Controlled Primary School, where services have been taking place since last August’s destruction, and many parishioners who were unable to be at the service have still to receive their allocation. “It’s not a competition,” the Rector told the congregation, “and there won’t be a list of what anyone has raised. Every effort will be appreciated and will make a difference.”
Canon Hoey gave them a huge incentive when he shared his plan for the first £1 of his £10. Producing a timer device, which he had bought a day earlier for one pound, he invited members of the congregation to drop a pound into a box. The Rector promised that if the total reached £50, he would cut his following two sermons to no more than 10 minutes each. When it was announced after the service that he had exceeded his target he said, “I don’t know whether to be offended or pleased. However, a 50-fold return has to be a good start to the venture.”
“We’re putting our faith in our parishioners,” Canon Hoey said. “We’re investing in their talent. Every one of us has been given at least one gift by God. We want people to see that, to use their talent and to help their church. The parish will benefit, future generations will benefit, and we’ll all be blessed and encouraged in the process.”
The congregation have been invited to return to St Canice’s to present their profits – or at the very least their original ten pounds – on Sunday 24th of June, when a special ‘You’ve Got Talent’ Thanksgiving Service will be held.