Suffolk church cashes in online

A SUFFOLK church has turned to the information super highway to raise much-needed funds.Worshippers at St Mary's Church in Earl Soham have decided the internet can provide, if not pennies from Heaven, then cash from retail shoppers.

A SUFFOLK church has turned to the information super highway to raise much-needed funds.

Worshippers at St Mary's Church in Earl Soham have decided the internet can provide, if not pennies from Heaven, then cash from retail shoppers.

The church has launched its own online Mall and receives a commission on all goods its sells from a variety of well-known high street stores.

Dixons, WH Smith, Currys, Lunn Poly, Littlewoods, PC World and Air France are among the big names to back the initiative.


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Up to 63 different products are on sale through www.stmarys-at.biz-epeople.com and the church receives anything from 2% to 20% commission for each item sold.

Church lay reader and website creator Simon Nicholls said the move was a sign of the need to raise cash from any source available.

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"It is the case, especially in old rural churches like ours, that the population is thin and we have churches in need of maintenance.

"Potentially, it (the website) is a lucrative and very cost- effective fundraising project for St Mary's."

A spokesman for the Church of England said he believed it was one of the first initiatives of its kind, adding: "This is an innovative idea that shows the church using 21st century technology to help alleviate some of its problems.'

The project came about after church vicar the Rev Clare Sanders gave some of her congregation £5 each and challenged them to double it.

Mr Nicholls is the chief executive officer of internet consultants biz-E People, whose company is hosting the website.

He said the site, which was only launched just before Christmas, has so far raised less than £30 but stressed it was very early days.

"The technology is available for many churches and charities to benefit from the shopping revolution on the net," he said.

"I hope that St Mary's will benefit from part of the £1 billion UK consumers are currently spending online each month."

Weblink: www.stmarys-at.biz-epeople.com

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