Christian worshippers have given record amounts of money to aid the mission of the Church of England, latest figures show.
Planned giving, through schemes such as giving a regular amount each
week and tithing, has increased by £6 million to £329 million.
direct giving is also up, through the collection plate and other direct
means, now amounting to £481 million.
The generosity of churchgoers also helped Church of England parishes
to give to other causes, donating £46 million to supporting other
charities working around the world, such as foodbanks, children's
charities and disaster appeals.
Total parish income in the Church of England was £989 million, an
increase of £36 million on the previous year. Expenditure levels also
rose by £28 million to £948 million in 2014, leaving the 12,000 parishes
with a surplus of £41 million over expenditure.
The increase is even more extraordinary given that the actual number of those giving has been in decline since 2007.
The latest stewardship figures are from 2014 and show an increase of 30 per cent over the preceding decade.
On average, churchgoers give more than £11 a week each. A 2014 report
by the Charities Aid Foundation found that the typical monthly amount
given by individual donors was £14 across the sector with the biggest
earners being more likely to donate to "religious causes".
Cash remains the most popular method of donation, preferred by just over half of givers across the charity sector.
Research has also found that women are more likely to give to charity than men.
Dr John Preston, the Church's national stewardship adviser, said he was encouraged by the figures.
"As a result of the commitment and generosity of hundreds of
thousands of churchgoers, we have seen record levels of giving, with the
average weekly gift from all planned givers exceeding £11 for the first
time, and the average gift from those able to give through Gift Aid
exceeding £15 including the tax recovered," he said.
"Parishes were able to claim record levels of Gift Aid, with a
significant part of this increase arising from use of the Gift Aid Small
Donations scheme. It is also pleasing to note that legacy giving was
the highest yet."