By Bob Elkin


There’s a rumor going around that part of a clergy’s duties is to mention the need for money to the parish  once in a while and I can see the sense of it since ultimately if they don’t give any I don’t get paid any.  For such a critical need I thought it well worth the extra effort for me to give this some thought and see what I could come up with that would help.  I didn’t feel it would be difficult since I’ve worked in the West Indies which has a very creative approach to raising cash so I considered some things we did down there to see if they’d transpose well to here.  Some did and some didn’t.  The bar at all West Indian fund raisers always produces a lot of cash but when I suggested it to the bishop on our return to Canada it received a very cool reception.  Likewise the Begging Letter  idea.   A begging letter is a plea for money which everybody going abroad takes with them to hit up whoever they meet when they get to where they’re going.  I was skeptical when first asked to provide one but when the parishioner returned with four thousand dollars I warmed to it rapidly.  After that nobody was allowed to go to the local grocery store without a begging letter but again it doesn’t seem to be something that will transplant well.  We’re not that great at asking each other about money, never mind people we happen to meet on vacation.  I considered  further and this time I hit the jackpot!  It’s all about the offering plate!  Where we lived the offering basket was on a long pole that the sidesperson held in front of people in the pews.  There were no envelopes so what was given was very visible and if the sidesperson felt that more was required they just stayed right there and maybe shook the basket a bit to give a hint, which usually got the desired result.  There’s the solution to our cash problems and here’s how we can make it work.

Equip the sidespeople with offering plates on poles similar to the West Indies and, in the name of   transparency, replace our present giving envelopes with see through plastic ones.  The sidesperson eyeballs each envelope given and, if they feel more is appropriate, they give the plate a gentle shake and little bells that have been attached ring out in a happy, gentle way alerting the giver to the increased need.  If that doesn’t get the desired reaction, they shake the plate harder and larger sleigh bells that have also been attached noticeably alert everyone to the increased need and if even that fails to motivate they shake the living daylights out of the pole which activates a large cow bell slung under the plate whose deafening clangs are almost guaranteed to produce results.  If still nothing happens, the sidesperson presses a button on the pole’s  handle which activates an electronic recording of baby birds crying: “Cheep, cheep, cheep!”   You can’t get blood from a stone but I guarantee the next person who faces the offering plate will give generously!

Being naturally modest I’d like no thanks for this idea but would rather bestow honour, show appreciation,  and kiss up a bit by naming it after the Archbishop and you’ve got to admit that the Belle Anne Collection Plate has a nice ring to it!