WORSHIPPERS and church visitors in Cumbria are the first to take part in a year-long national pilot scheme to encourage contactless giving.
The first of 115 payment units were installed in churches in Carlisle diocese on Tuesday as part of a £1.25-million investment by the national Church in digital donating. Churches in Southwark and St Edmundsbury & Ipswich dioceses will join the trial later this year.
Most of the churches involved are receiving one of two types of contactless device: the CollecTin More is portable, and can be wall-mounted; the PayaCharity Plus A920 is hand-held, for use in places with no WiFi or mobile signal. A few churches will have a pedestal-mounted GoodWith device, which is designed for larger churches and cathedrals.
Donors can choose from a list of payments or enter their own amount. Details are listed on the Church of England and Church in Wales website www.parishbuying.org.uk.
One of the first six churches to go “live” on Tuesday was St Mary’s, Ambleside. The Team Rector, the Revd Beverley Lock, said: “More and more, we are seeing people who worship in and visit our churches turning to contactless forms of payment in their day-to-day lives; so it’s really important that the church is able to offer them the same opportunity to give financially. . .
“During the Covid pandemic, we’ve really missed our regular visitors for their fellowship and encouragement. We hope this will make their generous giving easier.”
The other churches where the service was launched this week are Lanercost Priory; St Lawrence’s, Appleby; St Michael and All Angels, Hawkshead; St Oswald’s, Grasmere; and St Bees Priory.
Eventually, some devices being trialled in the pilot will incur a monthly fee of about £10 a month, but during the year-long trial period this will be funded directly by the national Church at specially negotiated rates. Participating churches will be offered training and support, and after the trial they can opt out of the scheme.
The Church of England’s national digital-giving manager, Grace Emmett, who is in Cumbria offering advice, said: “As the trend continues for card payments to outperform payments made using cash, contactless giving will enable visitors and regular churchgoers the ability to quickly and easily support the life and ministry of churches across the diocese of Carlisle. Experience so far is that contactless donations are, on average, three times the value of cash donations.
“Working with churches in Cumbria allows us to see how contactless giving functions in a range of contexts, from the city of Carlisle to towns and villages. Enabling contactless payments will be ideal for helping tourists and ramblers share generously within the local economy as they visit churches while out and about, exploring the Lakes. We’re also excited to see how these units support churches in the urban centres of Carlisle, Workington, and Barrow, where churches are delivering front line support to their local communities.”