Financial crisis threatens Church’s strategic plans

Feb 2, 2021 by

by Hattie Williams, Church Times:

Curates could struggle to find incumbencies; northern dioceses hit hardest.

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.”

Church officials say that the paper, which we reproduce in full below, is part of an ongoing discussion, and is based on recent meetings between the recipients, and information gathered during the first lockdown last year. A series of questions were asked about long-term changes to the Church’s material assets, including the supply and demand of stipendiary ordained ministers. The document cautions: “These perspectives inform future models of mission and ministry. They are not the whole picture.”

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