The Church of England report from a group with this title has now attracted some press coverage.
Ruth Gledhill wrote about it in The Times Church admits cash shortage threatens one third of clergy
Peter Price the chairman of the group wrote a letter to the editor, taking issue with the article: Church of England’s finances and future
The Church of England Newspaper contained an article in a quite different vein, headlined Church to direct funding to enable mission ventures
The BBC reported this way: Buildings ‘holding back’ Church
In the Church Times Bill Bowder had Out-of-date Church lacks vision, not cash, says report
The report’s own summary of its conclusions is reproduced below the fold.
23.1 The main conclusions of our interim report are thus as follows.
23.2 The key challenge facing the Church is not financial but the need for it to develop a more dynamic mission emphasis. The key priorities are to sustain and develop the Church’s existing ministry and to invest in recruitment, training and leadership development, as well as address new mission opportunities (Paras 4.8-4.10). These priorities will be worked out in different ways in local circumstances. The House of Bishops should take a lead in ensuring that the national framework which surrounds local activity helps to promote the overall mission development of the Church (5.3).
23.3 The Church faces the difficulty that whilst it needs to make new investment in its mission development, many parishes cannot afford their current ministry (7.1-7.3). A number of dioceses are engaged in work on the issues of viability and how mission frameworks can guide funding decisions and we urge that the House of Bishops and National Church Institutions find ways of ensuring that this experience about resource allocation is shared between dioceses (7.7).
23.4 Although continued effort needs to be made to increase all the resources available to the Church, its funding mainly relies on members’ giving. The Church must continue to devote time to its teaching about giving. Increasing giving can also be helped by greater transparency over the Church’s finances. Dioceses and the National Church Institutions should work together to ensure that parishes are aware of the full costs of their ministry and mission (9.2, 10.7).
23.5 It is important to celebrate the significant and growing mutual support which already exists within the Church and to acknowledge the Gospel imperative of further action to address the continuing resource inequalities (11.1-11.6). Mutual support is likely to be strengthened where there is a genuine partnership between contributors and recipients (13.2).
23.6 The Group does not think the time is yet ripe to create an inter-diocesan fund into which dioceses are expected to make contributions by some kind of formula. The current priority in enhancing mutual support should be increased transparency so that all parts of the Church have a more realistic understanding of its costs and a better knowledge of each other’s needs and opportunities (13.5-13.6).
23.7 The National Church Institutions should stand ready to help dioceses which wish to make voluntary commitments to mutual support either by re-channelling current benefits from national funding or by facilitating the creation of a separate scheme whereby dioceses lodge requests for support (possibly on a website) and others make contributions to meet those requests (15.l-15.3).
23.8 If the Church is to make any significant headway in addressing the mutual support issue, it must also give further consideration to the most effective distribution of its national historic resources. To the extent that better-resourced areas of the Church continue to receive support from the Church Commissioners, there is significant potential to enhance the amounts available for mutual support (15.4).
23.9 We have discussed the option of denationalising the national historic assets vested in the Commissioners and distributing them to bishops, dioceses and cathedrals. This would have some ecclesiological merit but the practical difficulties and cost penalties of such a radical step appear prohibitive (16.3-16.4).
23.10 The funding from the Church’s national historic assets should be distributed in ways which promote local decision-making, more targeted support, a focus on mission, and greater accountability (16.5).