Thinking Anglicans

Living Ministry study

Last Friday’s Church Times carried a news item by Madeleine Davies headlined Clergy living comfortably, long-term Living Ministry study suggests. This was based on “the first fruits of a large-scale Ministry Division survey”. The report “Mapping the Wellbeing of Church of England Clergy and Ordinands” itself is somewhat hidden away on the Church of England’s Ministry Development website where you can download the full report and an executive summary.

Panel Survey Wave 1 Report
Panel Survey Wave 1 Report Executive Summary

But Doug Chaplin’s eye was caught by the paragraph that suggested all was not quite as well as the Church Times headline suggested, and he writes about it here: Living comfortably: the fiction of a stipend?

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David EmmottChris RoutledgeJonathan MitchellStanley Monkhouse Recent comment authors
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Stanley Monkhouse
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Chaplin comments: Before 2008 I worked in higher education in UK and Republic of Ireland. We have always been a single income family, 2 adults and 3 children born 75, 77, 79. I can not imagine how any family with children could possibly survive on a stipend alone. We certainly could not have done so. It’s difficult to take this bit of the survey seriously. I wonder about its reliability. I wonder too whether the laying on of hands at ordination tends to turn people’s lenses pink. If so, it didn’t work for me.

Jonathan Mitchell
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Jonathan Mitchell

How do these findings square with the statistics, currently circulating the Archdeacons’ network, of the numbers of clergy off sick in their archdeaconries at the moment?

Chris Routledge
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Chris Routledge

The headline is dreadfully misleading. Clergy report being able to “live comfortably” (whatever that means) if and only if they have additional income, be that from a spouse/partner, rental income from a property, or whatever.
It is the clergy with no additional income who report that they struggle financially, which is the significant point, I think.

David Emmott
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David Emmott

‘Eighty-two per cent of ordained respondents were able to draw on other sources of income than that received for ministry. ‘

This reminds me of the diocesan officer who, when asked about retirement housing, said ‘most people inherit property from their parents.’

The C of E will never be credible as long as its clergy are so overwhelmingly middle class.