Thinking Anglicans

Financial threats to Church of England plans

Updated again Thursday evening

The Sunday Times published a news story with the headline:  Church to cut paid clergy as a fifth of flock wanders off which is based on a report circulating among diocesan secretaries etc.

The damage inflicted on the Church of England by the pandemic is revealed in a leaked internal document which warns up to 20 per cent of its regular worshippers may never return.

It calls into question “the sustainability of many local churches” and the continued financial subsidy given to 5,000 loss-making parishes out of a total of 12,000…

The next  day, the Church Times published a news story which includes the full text of that document. You can read that here: Financial crisis threatens Church’s strategic plans.

(Note the Church Times  paywall arrangement: if you are not a subscriber to the newspaper, but you register with the site you get two additional free articles each month, i.e. a total of four items.)

DECLINING income, accelerated by the pandemic, means that dioceses are facing “indiscriminate cuts” to clergy posts, undermining the Church of England’s attempts at strategic reform.

New assistant curates, recruited in the recent push for vocations, could struggle to find incumbencies, an internal document suggests.

Details of the scale of the challenge are contained in a discussion paper circulated to all bishops and diocesan secretaries in the middle of last month. It confirms that the C of E’s income fell 8.1 per cent in the year to November 2020. It projects a further fall of ten per cent for 2021, calculated before the latest lockdown was announced. Expected savings on expenditure for 2021 are currently three to four per cent. These overall figures disguise a large variation between dioceses.

The document, Perspectives on Money, People and Buildings, seen by the Church Times on Monday, has not been made public, despite confusion from parish priests and others about media reports on its contents, and a declaration at the start: “Honest sharing of information on how those resources of money, people and buildings are being stewarded for greatest impact is vital.”

Updates

The Archbishop of York has published an article on his own website which comments on the above, The Church of England still needs clergy. This article is also available in the Church Times with the strapline There are no central plans to cut the number of priests, says Stephen Cottrell. Do read the full text of what he says.

The Church Times also has this news report: Clergy won’t be pushed out in cost cuts, says Archbishop of York

CLERGY are still needed to serve the Church of England, and “are not being pushed out” of their posts to make up for the continued decline in income, the Archbishop of York, the Most Revd Stephen Cottrell, says.

None the less, the Church will have to make “tough” and “challenging” changes to spread both its wealth and stipendiary clergy fairly across the 42 dioceses, he warns. This is likely to result in some cuts to stipendiary posts in all dioceses, many of which — especially in the north — are being left vacant after clerics retire…

The Spectator has published an article by Emma Thompson with the title Holy relic: what will be left of the Church of England after the pandemic? (registration may be needed).

William Nye has published a furious response on the Church of England website. Copied below.

Sir,

As a longstanding and loyal reader of the Spectator, I was disappointed in your cover story about the Church of England.

I was amazed to read the ludicrous claim that the parish system is being dissolved like the monasteries, repeated without even a cursory check on whether this could possibly be true. We read of a supposed central take-over of independent dioceses and an imaginary national plan to roll out cuts and sell assets to fund more managers. The old canard that the Archbishops decided to suspend public worship last year at the height of the first wave of the pandemic, rather than the Government, did not even get a rudimentary qualification.

No one from the Spectator called the Church of England to ask whether any of these things were true.

This matters because truth matters. It matters because this kind of misinformation is damaging and demoralising to clergy and laity in every corner of England who have been worshipping God and serving their neighbours in extraordinary new ways, despite the restrictions we have all faced during this pandemic.

There is no national plan to roll out cuts to clergy or to buildings. We need our clergy and our lay volunteers – all are part of the people of God – and we need our church buildings, which are a precious resource for the whole nation.  Some dioceses are having to adjust the balance of stipendiary (paid) clergy and other ministers; and to shift where clergy are deployed, following movements in the population. Yet we rejoice that we have seen an increase in the number of people coming forward to be trained and ordained as clergy. This year the number of people being ordained into stipendiary ministry will be 43% higher than eight years ago.

Nor is there is a national drive to close churches.  Yes, a small number of church buildings do close every year after a complex process in which alternatives are carefully explored. Yet we rejoice that we have also been reopening churches, and planting new congregations.  In the last five years, we have planted or reopened or revived over a hundred churches – in towns and cities across England, in places such as Blackpool, Preston, Rotherham, Wigan, Dudley, Goole, Stockton-on-Tees, Mansfield, Swindon, Hastings, and Plymouth.

These are challenging times but facts and perspective are important. The Church of England has been worshipping God and serving our neighbours for many generations. I am confident that we will continue to do so, bringing the Gospel of Christ to every community for many generations to come.

William Nye
Secretary General, Archbishops’ Council, The Church of England

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Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
8 months ago

One issue not being canvassed is the strain this may put on our governance structures. Parish contributions to dioceses are not legal obligations – and some parishes have withheld these for various reasons. But the PCC are trustees of an independent charity and there may come a time when the trustees are obliged to withhold contributions in order to secure their financial viability/continued existence. In such a case the incumbent could be formally conflicted (as might members of Diocesan Synods). How are trustees to exercise their judgment and obtain appropriate advice about their roles? How are clergy to act in… Read more »

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
Reply to  Revd Mark Bennet
8 months ago

Trustees might exercise their judgement by saying that they will continue to pay their contributions, providing their diocese stops wasting their money by running pointless training on the latest anxieties surrounding gender identities, unconscious bias, and the like.

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
Reply to  Simon Neale
8 months ago

My point is that Trustees might be obliged by law to withhold contributions. Withholding on the basis of alleged differences or perceived or real annoyances with “the Diocese” is a different matter.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Simon Neale
8 months ago

I’m reasonably certain the church has spent far more on attempts to appease homophobes, transphobes and misogynists in recent years than it has on protecting their targets.

Froghole
Froghole
8 months ago

I know I am being boringly repetitive, but THERE IS NO FINANCIAL CRISIS IN THE CHURCH! The Commissioners have £8.7bn. Stocks and shares have reached new levels of frothiness over the last year. As such, their assets are probably now touching £9bn, even allowing for their paltry loans at 2% above base (note, not grants) provided to the dioceses. That the Commissioners assets have grown as they have because the greater burden of supporting the Church has devolved upon the parishes since 1998. A 23 year holiday for pension accruals is quite enough! The Commissioners could quite easily bear the… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Good Evening Froghole! I wander as a former Anglican and now a Roman Catholic, looking at this Ecumenically, I wonder if the Church of England is suffering from the same problem as my own Church, an increasing Episcopal Clericalism, where the laity are not consulted, something which in my own Church Pope Francis has rightly diagnosed as a disease! It can have its roots in a flawed ecclesiology and a way of talking about the Church as if the Church only included the Bishops, the Clergy, the General Synod and Church Commissioners and the ordinary Laity were treated as not… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
8 months ago

Many thanks, Mr Jamal. This might well be the case, although I suspect that the ‘pay, pray and obey’ formula has been in force in all hierarchical churches for time out of mind. As I see it, there is not – yet – any financial crisis within the Church *in aggregate*, but there is a financial crisis at various layers within the Church. It is therefore a crisis of apportionment, and of distribution. Moreover, it is also a crisis of credibility. How can go to a parish and tell them that their pastoral provision must cease or their church close… Read more »

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Well said Froghole. The document that the Church Times has helpfully published is poorly written: ‘appraised’ instead of ‘apprised’, ‘grown too small’ etc.. but in so far as I could follow a coherent thread seems to be suggesting among other things that older clergy should retire early (and presumably hopefully carry on working for free) to make way for a surfeit of bright young things fully conversant in all things online. Many of these rising stars seem to have a poor grasp of theology and have had a sparse experience of priestly formation. I know I’m an early retired old… Read more »

Ordinary Vicar
Ordinary Vicar
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
8 months ago

Interesting that the young ones are perceived as being better online. As a teacher as well as a member of the clergy I am teaching all my lessons online. My students are often poor at online skills and not as competent as myself or my friends. I am in my fifties

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Your opening remarks surprised me, Froghole, as I thought you had been warning for years, based on your extensive personal research by visiting thousands of parishes, that the CofE is heading for an irrevocable demographic and consequent financial crisis caused by its existing supporters dying off and not being replaced. The pandemic can only have advanced that process by several years. There is a lot of money at the centre, as you say, and that could be used to subsidise the existing structures for a while or, more radically, as you yourself have suggested, as part of a historic deal… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Malcolm Dixon
8 months ago

Many thanks, Mr Dixon! You are indeed correct. There is a crisis at a local level in many places. However, there is no crisis at the top (amongst the Commissioners). I do think that the Commissioners should be stepping into the breach and providing grants. Since you mention the EU, think of the feeble, if much vaunted, ‘deal’ struck last summer amongst member states, which was sold as a first step along the path to genuine risk sharing. The situation is analogous with the Church: the Commissioners provided some modest funding to help with cashflow, but only as loans. This… Read more »

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

The Church Commissioners are not entirely Church controlled charity – parliament has a stake too. The trusts on which it holds its funds are specific. In fact the Church of England is not a single entity, but a complex network of trusts with objects which are parallel in good times, but which may not sit well together when the going gets tough. With (as I have already noted) concerns about the governance of individual charities, the distinctions in objects may become significant. There are potential legal issues here as well as financial ones, and while the lawyers have too much… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Revd Mark Bennet
8 months ago

Many thanks, Mr Bennett. I have concluded that the bishops must have no fiduciary duty to their dioceses or parishes (I am happy to be proven wrong). They are obliged by the oaths to their metropolitans to preserve order, prevent heresy and show due obedience. There is nothing in their oaths about them supporting their parishes, for example. They may have fiduciary duties *if* they sit on DBFs, for instance, insofar as as DBF or a DAC could be construed as a trust. They almost certainly have fiduciary duties to the Commissioners insofar, as diocesans, they are ex officio commissioners.… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

All bishops (whether diocesan or suffragan bishops), being members of the Bishop’s Council in their dioceses, are trustees for the purposes of charity law, whether or not their Bishop’s Council, DBF (and in some cases Diocesan Synod) are linked in an organisational sense. Their fiduciary duties to the management and administration of their dioceses are therefore clear.

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
Reply to  Anthony Archer
8 months ago

Thanks, Anthony, for that clarity. What happens, then, if there is a conflict between a Bishop’s fiduciary and pastoral duties? The CDM debacle is an unfortunate precedent in trying to resolve conflicts of episcopal duties under significant pressure and 21st Century sensibilities. Some attention given to the issues, sufficient to anticipate problems which may emerge, sould seem to be indicated, I think?

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Revd Mark Bennet
8 months ago

I should add that if it is indeed the case that bishops have no fiduciary obligations to the parishes or, indeed, to their own dioceses, then that is a very grave danger for parish and diocese alike. I am hoping that my tentative assumption that this is so is quite wrong, and it is possible that better informed commentators will have much more useful information. Indeed I haven’t been able to ascertain what obligations bishops have to their dioceses and parishes as ‘office holders’ other than what is detailed in the rite of consecration; there is nothing of use, for… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Many thanks for these thought-provoking comments and background. Since nobody else has taken the bait on the fiduciary obligations of bishops, I’ll have a go! There’s a lot that can be cribbed from the annual reports and financial statements of the diocesan boards of finance, freely available on the Charity Commission’s website. The comprehensive strategic reports are very informative as to the objectives, activities, achievements and performance of the diocese and how the various financial elements interact. After an hour or two’s study you could find out a great deal of information about the total value of their assets, income… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Andrew
8 months ago

Very many thanks indeed for that, Andrew. I had looked at the 1925 Measure in the past, but not at the 1969 one. It *seems* to me that a diocese is really an agglomeration of different trusts, with which the diocesan, as ordinary, has an intimate or soi-disant relationship, as the case may be. If s/he is not actually the member of a particular board, then it is moot as to whether s/he has a fiduciary duty. I wonder, therefore, whether we are left with a group of corporations: the bishop as a corporation sole (incumbents as corporations sole having… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Yes, as clear as mud! I suppose the intention in the drafting of both the 1925 and 1969 legislation was to ensure that the laity had the majority voting rights on the DBF. This provision seems to create a suitable check upon the power of the bishop, with the additional safeguard that three fourths of appointments to the board should be approved by diocesan synod, and not less than two-thirds of the members elected by the diocesan synod or the deanery synods (as the case may be) shall be members of the diocesan synod. Hansard might shed some light on parliamentary debates of the… Read more »

Gilo
Gilo
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

I find your sagacity and knowledge always very helpful Froghole. Can’t help thinking the Church would be in a better state in so many ways – if it had you in the folds of the Archbishops Council Secretariat. National Secular Society has run a number of articles in recent years on the Church’s wealth, some of it tucked away in diocesan trusts. If their research in 2016 was accurate: “The forty two dioceses have assets ranging in size from just £8,524,000 at the Diocese in Europe through to £401,000,000 at the Diocese of London. Combined they have a total of… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Gilo
8 months ago

Many thanks indeed, Gilo (as ever)! That is most kind, but I am a mere ex-peripatetic. I dimly recall reading that piece several years ago when I started to argue for disendowment. The NSS is often good value. Of course, the Commissioners’ assets alone have grown by a couple of billion since then. What is not clear, with respect to diocesan assets, is how liquid they are. I suspect that a good portion of these assets are fixed, but it is also unclear whether a large portion are simply rebranded parochial assets (e.g., parsonage houses which have been arrogated to… Read more »

Curate's pail
Curate's pail
8 months ago

Who on earth wrote the ‘Perspectives on money, people and buildings’ paper? It is shot through with jargon, management speak and other meaningless verbiage. Discussion of the report on social media has rightly focussed on the content of the paper, but the language used (and not used) is very informative too. It contains no scripture, and no theology. Commentators worry that the contents of the report could usher in a radically different ecclesiology in the Church of England. That time is already here: this paper represents that radically different ecclesiology. As a brief highlight of what follows, use of the… Read more »

Curate's pail
Curate's pail
Reply to  Curate's pail
8 months ago

These were some ‘highlights’: Putting ‘money’ before ‘people’ in the title. Telling. ‘this perspectives paper’. Should ‘perspectives’ be used as an adjective? ‘the whole church of God serving the whole mission of God in the whole of life and the use of those sufficient resources which God gives us in service of that’. What does this mean? Can God’s mission ever be other than ‘whole’? ‘the width of social, ministerial and relational vocations’. ‘Width’? What is a ‘social’ or ‘relational’ vocation, and are they different from ‘ministerial’? If so, how? ‘there is commitment to increased vocations to enabling ministries continuing… Read more »

Charles Read
Reply to  Curate's pail
8 months ago

Indeed – and the language of viable parishes (=finance) is insulting and morale-sapping as well as being theologically so far off beam as to be heretical.

Graeme Buttery
Graeme Buttery
Reply to  Charles Read
8 months ago

Well said Charles! Also, of course, to a certain extent, viable and indeed successful varies depending on the local contex

Graeme Buttery

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Curate's pail
8 months ago

Thank you Curate’s Pail- loving the textual analysis- words ‘say’ so much, said and unsaid. I would like, however, to take issue over the use of ‘bad management consultants’. Is that tautology or just bad practice? Perhaps the PR ‘gurus’ at HQ might benefit from engaging even more fully with the assistive services so readily on offer alongside in the wider market going forward (e.g. https://www.prmoment.com/pr-insight/will-london-remain-the-centre-of-pr-in-europe-post-brexit) in support of the sterling work being done, at no little expense, by so-called ‘reputation managers, so conspicuously successful by any virtually meaningful measurement, especially at this difficult and challenging time. Let us pray… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
8 months ago

All the Church’s resources come from God, but He needs stewards. Since it is God’s money and the Bishops/Synod are His stewards they should control all the money and the buildings. That, plus a third point is, the gist. The third point is that there should be honest sharing of information on how things are being stewarded. That is to say, people should be told, rather than consulted, or involved in the decision. (It doesn’t really mean actually telling people, just that the only role of people is to be told.) Actually the resources come from the people of the… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  T Pott
8 months ago

“Actually the resources come from the people of the country given, generally over many generations including the present, to support and provide for local churches.” Many thanks. This is so very true. Although most country churches originated as manorial chapels, they were, for the most part, funded by the public: (i) by tithe for the sustenance of the clergy (with glebe being farmed mostly by the laity on behalf of the clergy), the greater tithes going to rectors (who, after the Reformation, might be lay impropriators), and this continued until as recently as 1977; (ii) by compulsory church rate until… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Froghole, I am obliged, my honourable friend. I find myself much in agreement with this from the Davenant article re Ussher: In all likelihood it was the King’s disapproval of such reforms that prevented Ussher from distributing the manuscript of the Reduction more widely. Reading perhaps ‘the Establishment’ or Bishops and Archbishops for ‘the King’ and in regard of those hoping for preferment,it may be right to have reticence about sharing one’s own thoughts. However … I would otherwise have proposed a revision (reversion?) to 26 Bishops ( the number of Lords Spiritual) with diocesan boundaries and ‘cathedra’ revised as… Read more »

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  God 'elp us all
8 months ago

Many thanks, as ever! I might go back beyond 1836 (the elevation of Ripon) to before 1541: therefore not 26 but 22 bishops (or 21 if Sodor & Man were amalgamated with a diocese for Cumbria or Lancashire, as proposed in 1836. Of course, the boundaries prior to 1541 were often lunatic, and memorialised long lost political divisions (such as Worcester for the Hwicce or Hereford for the Magonsetae). It made no sense for one diocese – Rochester, the ghost of the sub-kingdom of Kent – to have 100 parishes (I except the archiepiscopal peculiar of Shoreham) and another –… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
8 months ago

Some tentative thoughts. It’s time for diocesan synod members to be brave when it comes to the diocesan budget. If it looks like a waste of money vote it down. If it wasn’t so detrimental to parishes in poorly run dioceses, I’d also suggest clergy and lay ministers who are in a position to move to part company with bishops who are wedded to the central managerial culture. Senior leaders need to know they cannot wander down this false trail without consequences. Seek out dioceses where the parish share equation is fair and the focus is on frontline ministry.

Father David
Father David
8 months ago

There has been a strong and vehement reaction to the Holy Relic Spectator article from the Archbishop of York and William Nye. This leaves me wondering if it is a myth that the diocese of Chelmsford will be losing 61 stipendiary clergy or is this what is actually on the cards? Bishop Guli will be in my prayers as she takes on this large diocese in which I had the honour and privilege to serve for ten years.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Father David
8 months ago

I didn’t know you’d been in Chelmsford Diocese, Father David. My faith came alive in that diocese as a teenager in the early 1970s, before we moved to Canada in late 1975.

Father David
Father David
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
8 months ago

Vicar of Kelvedon and Feering 2003 – 2013

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Father David
8 months ago

Not 20 miles from where we lived in Southminster, near Burnham on Crouch (my dad was the vicar there 1969-75). Small world.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
Reply to  Father David
8 months ago
God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Father David
8 months ago

A poisoned object I vaguely recall as a container of a fermented product of the grape used in an act of significance to a gathering of faithful people? Best of providence to the incoming bishop in translation. It’s traditional to attribute ‘issues’ to ‘the previous administration’.

Dave
Dave
8 months ago

I am a layperson and I’m VERY confused at the message archbishops and bishops and church officials beyond the parish are putting out in the current situation. “This matters because truth matters” – and trust. I come across so many who simply do not trust what some church officials are saying. I am one of them. Let me ask some questions which I simply do not know the answer to: 1) Are the number of parish clergy to be decreased – if so on what basis? What steps are diocese taking to reduce consultants and senior staff? Why in some… Read more »

Bill Broadhead
Bill Broadhead
8 months ago

Hell hath no fury like a Tory libertarian spurned! Is it just me, or is there something deeply inappropriate about an institution’s senior ‘civil servant’ venting his anger in his own name on the institution’s official website? It may give us a helpful insight into Mr Nye’s native political sympathies (as if many us were in any doubt about that); but it strikes me as a sign of increasing institutional desperation that Mr Nye should be throwing his toys so loudly and aggressively out of the cot when his favourite comic upsets him. Perhaps the Archbishop of York might suggest… Read more »

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
8 months ago

The end is ‘Nye’?

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  God 'elp us all
8 months ago

I wonder if Mr Nye has seen Lucy Bannerman’s article in today’s Times?

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Bill Broadhead
8 months ago

Mr Nye completely misses Emma Thompson’s crie de coeur as a committed lay person in the CofE. To everyone’s bafflement the benefice I retired from is to be broken up despite paying its way, whilst other benefices in the deanery are to remain intact whilst making no effort to meet the parish share. My former parishioners were not listened to during a flawed consultation exercise. They were encouraged to spend £1k on an advert in the Church Times for a vacancy the St Albans diocese had no intention of appointing to. Will the three parishes continue to pay their parish… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
8 months ago

A moral case for the Commissioners to step up to the plate at a time of looming crisis in the parish network has been forcefully made. It would, however, entail a significant adaption of their present role, given that they have largely taken a back seat over the last twenty years or so, in regard to the bread-and-butter financing of the cost of ministry. They confine their objectives to funding mission activities, supporting dioceses with fewer resources, bishops’ ministry and some cathedral costs, and paying clergy pensions for service prior to 1998. It was very different over forty years ago,… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Andrew
8 months ago

And how many stipendiary clergy were there in 1978-9 Andrew? Twice as many as now perhaps?

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Perry Butler
8 months ago

Thanks for asking, Perry. According to the leaflet, there were 11,700 stipendiary clergy during that year. The national minimum stipend for rectors and vicars was £3,300 (average £3,661); and for curates it was £2,400 – £3,000 (average £2,877). At the time Easter offerings were still received direct.. Pensions (totalling £9million) were paid to 4,700 retired clergy and 3,900 clergy widows. The full-service pension was £1,650 per annum (£825 for widows) and the lump sum payable on retirement after full service was £2,500. For every pound spent on clergy housing (of £6m), 52p was for repairs, rates and other outgoings; 43p… Read more »

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Andrew
8 months ago

Thanks. Fascinating. I really thought there might be 15/16k stipendiaries.I suspect 10 years earlier thats probably what it was. Is it now about 8,000?.Certainly big changs in 50 yrs.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Andrew
8 months ago

Andrew: I really must thank you for your superb posts. Further to Dr Butler’s comments, the latest available MinDiv stats indicated that there were 7,770 stipendiaries in 2019, with a total of about 20,000 (https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2020-06/Ministry%20Statistics%202019%20report%20FINAL.pdf); numbers had peaked in 1886, at just over 24,000, almost all of whom were stipendiaries. Whitaker’s Almanack used to detail clergy numbers by diocese; whilst allowances might be made for boundary changes and the fact that clergy often did not retire but moved to smaller cures, a comparison between 1929 and 1970, for: (i) beneficed clergy; and (ii) curates etc. is as follows: Bath &… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Froghole
8 months ago

Thank you, again! The figures speak for themselves, don’t they? So, in 2019 there were 7,700 stipendiary clergy and 2,870 self-supporting clergy in parochial posts (supported by 7,370 of those with permission to officiate), making a total of 10,570 of clergy in parochial posts. That’s only about a tenth lower than the 11,700 active clergy in 1979. Yet the laity are now paying most of the clergy costs, whereas double their number were paying a mere quarter of the total bill in 1979. A back-of-an-envelope calculation suggests, therefore, that the average worshipper is contributing eight times what they did forty… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
Reply to  Andrew
8 months ago

Or rather, if you factor in the 4,000 fewer stipendiaries in 2019 than in 1979, then the average worshipper is actually contributing about five times more proportionally. Whatever the real difference is, the contribution will probably seem greater.

Edith Crowther
Edith Crowther
5 months ago

This is so helpful to Secretaries of PCCs whose Members are being proper Trustees and asking awkward questions about finances. As someone with some knowlege of Trust Law, I found the comments of Revd Mark Bennett transformative of my understanding of the legal situation, and hope to relay these to the PCC. The “awkward squad” members are often in the doghouse – yet it turns out that they are the best Trustees, and the ones who just want a quiet life are not, necessarily! However, Revd Bennett is right to stress that Trustees cannot withhold contributions for any old reason… Read more »

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