The C of E needs to be leaner and fitter

Aug 3, 2020 by

by Stephen Trott, Church Times:

THE difficulties posed by the coronavirus crisis have exposed many fault lines and weaknesses in organisations around the country — and the Church of England is no exception.

Its already tightly strained finances are under immense strain, with every church in lockdown for months and no income from church collections or visitors, but still a significant monthly payroll to be funded. Eighty per cent of its income comes from generous giving and donations. Unlike some Continental state Churches, it receives no funding from the Treasury.

The problems have been accumulating for many years. In the 1970s, with the best of intentions, most of the financial assets accumulated by the parishes over 1000 years were nationalised by the General Synod, to ensure that all the clergy received the same, modest stipend. Previously, there was a market among “livings”, in which some clergy enjoyed many plums, while others struggled to feed their family or to keep warm in winter.

But this apparently benign reform had unexpected consequences. Transferring the money to central bodies signalled a dramatic shift in focus from the local church as the centre of gravity to the diocese. The parish church had always been the centre of church life. It says so in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, part of the Church of England’s DNA, identifying the local congregation as the visible Church, where the word of God is taught and the sacraments are administered.

Once proudly independent from all but the essentials of episcopal oversight, the parish system began to find itself dependent on the diocesan board of finance, and increasingly micro-managed by burgeoning numbers of bishops, archdeacons, and accountants.

THE economy of the Church of England, which has evolved since the 1970s, is manifestly in need of radical change if it is to reconnect with people in their locality where the word can be preached and the sacraments can be administered.

Read here [£]

see also: Is the Church of England determined to kill off the parish church? by Giles Fraser, Daily Telegraph:

Related Posts


Share This