21 February 2002

Methodist minister's 21st century parable of the talents

In what is an excellent parable for our times, a Methodist minister has received a £4,500 return after giving 50 members of his church £10 notes each.

The Rev Howard Long, minister at the Mumbles Methodist Church in Swansea, gave members of the church a tenner each in October. He asked them to use the money wisely to try to help raise money for vital refurbishment work.

Inspired by the Parable of the Talents in Matthew's gospel, Mr Long thought he would try something similar to capture the imagination of Mumbles church members - and benefit the whole church at the same time.

In Chapter 25 of the gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the story of a rich man gives three of his servants a sum of 'talents' or money to use wisely while he is away. When the man returns from his travels, two of the three servants have used their money to double the original investment. "Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things," says the master.

Last weekend, Mr Long collected what the Mumbles church members had raised - and was delighted to discover they had made a profit of £4,450 - which will go towards the £600,000 needed for restoration work on the 125-year-old Grade II listed Methodist church.

Mumbles Church is a thriving 180-member church in south Wales. Its restoration scheme is also being supported by the Methodist Church Property Office, while members are currently awaiting news of a Lottery Heritage Fund application.

In comparison with the original parable, the profit of more than eight times the investment marks an impressive return. Among the fundraising ideas that turned scripture into reality, Mumbles church members held a sponsored fancy dress event, while young people put their £10s together to hire a pool for a swimathon.

Mr Long said today: "This is a lesson in what you can achieve as a church when you work together - and it shows that God is good. Any church could try something like this. It takes the onus for fundraising off property committees and puts it in the hands of individual church members."

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