By F. A. FULFORD
HANDBOOK OF CHURCH FINANCE, by David R. Holt, II (Macmillan Company, New York, 35s.) ONE thousand Protestant churches in America which have had fund-raising campaigns with the aid of commercial firms, were asked for results by the author. He is an economist who has now become a parson. Most did not reply, but 175 said the campaign had been financially successful; 31 said it hadn't. To the question: " Is the spiritual life of your church better or not? " 132 said " yes", but five replied that it had been " impaired ".
The book is important for priests in England. One thing learnt is that cold financial statements, pinned on notice hoards, giving income and outgoings for the parish, are resented by parishioners. Neither priests nor people know why, but it is nevertheless a fact.
THE reason for the resentment is clearly stated in this book. No church-goer wants to consider his priest or parson as a managing director of a business concern that has to balance its books and make a profit.
But, as the author points out, the priest can, and should, put church money on the high spiritual level where it belongs. He suggests that a statement of church accounts should not say "Organist's Salary", but: "For the Ministry of Church Music". "For the Care of God's Property", instead of "Cleaner's Wage". These alternatives may sound clumsy to us in England. But the germ of an idea is there for any priest wanting to bless his people's money offerings.
The Fifth Commandment of the Church (support of pastors) could be at the back of this author's mind in the valuable advice he gives. But of course he does not know it: he is a Protestant. He favours the use of parishionercanvassers, who need not, he thinks, be trained by professional " fund-raisers". They are to look upon their work as an apostolate.
Could the Legion of Mary include parish fund-raising in their apostolate in England?