A guide for anyone considering sending out a thank you letter to parishioners.
Saying “Thank you” is an important way of showing gratitude when we have been given something. I’m constantly trying to remember to give thanks to God more in my prayers, rather than just praying for God to fix and solve things! As children, our parents teach us that saying “Thanks” is polite. And it is.
Saying “Thank you” to those who generously give money to the ongoing mission of the church, is really important too. However, if we’re not careful, the language of “Thanks” can get us into trouble.
We might be writing things in our annual Thank You Letters to our parishioners and other “supporters” that are actually unhelpful, and reinforces a bit of an “us and them” attitude. This is bad news for us all, because, far from us wanting to say “We are the establishment and you are the supporters/donors/outsiders”, we want to say “We are the church”.
We are all the church. How can we give to the church (out there) when we are the church (in here, and all around)?
It’s a minefield, and you might be thinking that this all sounds rather complicated and too much like hard work. A simple Thank You Letter would surely suffice? Well not if we want to get away from the “us and them” model and instead build a church where all members feel equal, important and valued, whether they are lay or clergy, rich or poor, young or old.
Luckily, Revd. Tom Brazier, one of our parish priests, has done the leg work himself. He has not only written a template, but he’s also written a full explanation of why this topic is so important. It explains the thinking behind it and why most of our thank you letters need a revamp this year. You can find that here on his blog.
Here is the template: