Church donations have been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.
The countywide roll-out is the first of three nationally by the Church of England this year and will see contactless payment units offered up to churches in the Diocese of Carlisle.
It represents a £1.25 million investment by the national church.
The offer will see most participating Cumbrian churches provided with one of two types of contactless unit, dependent on wifi availability and whether they are to be left unattended in buildings. The units are interactive and offer different amounts to donate.
Along with the Appleby Church initially five other churches will receive the bespoke device, these are the Priory Church of St Mary Magdalene, Lanercost; St Michael and All Angels, Hawkshead; St Mary’s, Ambleside; St Oswald’s, Grasmere and St Bees Priory.
The Rev Charles Hope, of the Parish Church of Keswick St John, said his and four other churches in the area — Crosthwaite Parish Church; Holy Trinity, Grange; St Mary’s, Thornthwaite; and St John-in-the-Vale — were to receive the contactless devices.
“I think it’s a great idea,” said Mr Hope. “It reflects the way that people don’t carry cash any more.
“Nowadays people are more likely to have a card by them and are happy to make a donation by card. It will certainly make it easier for people to support the life of the church. People’s generosity is very much appreciated,” he added.
He said that during the coronavirus crisis, finances of churches in the Keswick area had fallen by between five and 15 per cent.
Grace Emmett, national digital giving manager for the Church The of England, and David Stout, regional giving advisor for the North, have been touring churches in the county for three days this week, offering drop-in advice sessions for Cumbrian churches.
“As the trend continues for card payments to outperform payments made using cash, contactless giving will enable visitors and regular churchgoers the ability to quickly and easily support the life and ministry of churches across the Diocese of Carlisle,” said Grace.
“Experience so far is that contactless donations are, on average, three times the value of cash donations.
“Working with churches in Cumbria allows us to see how contactless giving functions in a range of contexts.
“These units will be ideal for helping tourists and ramblers share generously within the local economy as they visit churches while out and about exploring the Lakes.”
David added: “Contactless payments have become par for the course over the last year and I’m really looking forward to seeing so many churches across Cumbria engage in this 21st century technology.
“Already we’ve had such a brilliant response from the churches and it’s going to be great seeing them in action.”
It is hoped that all of the units will be installed in Cumbrian churches by the end of May.
Monthly charges will not be applicable for the first year, though a small commission will be deducted by the payments processor from each donation.
After 12 months, some of the units would cost around £10 a month, with an option to return them without charge.