Where does the C of E go on sexuality after July Synod?

Jul 10, 2024 by

by Ian Paul, Psephizo:

Not everything was bad at the session of General Synod last weekend.

There was an important discussion about ‘rest periods for office holders’ (C of E language for vicars taking their days off), a very important debate about the human dignity of disabled children, during which Justin Welby shared that his wife had felt pressured to abort their child, and debates about food banks and the persecuted church. Surprisingly, two potentially incendiary issues—how the inquiry into Mike Pilavachi at Soul Survivor has been handled, and response to the Jay report into our safeguarding strategy—went off more smoothly than they might have done.

But there were three moments that made this session of Synod the most dispiriting that I have experienced in my nearly 15 years attending.

The first was the very clear and thorough presentation by Carl Hughes on national finances and apportionment. (You can watch his presentation by means of the YouTube feed here.)

After presenting the detail of the apportionment (the contributions to be paid by dioceses to central funds), he then set the situation in the context of the wider challenges faced by the Church. This began with the data on attendance, showing that we have halved in size in the last 14 years, and the consequent impact on finances.

Average weekly attendance in every diocese since 2015 is down by between 25% and 40%. More than 20% of our 15,000 churches have weekly attendance of less than 20. In some dioceses parish share is down by over a third since 2019. The number of regular givers has fallen by 30% over the last decade…

And so it continued. Carl also highlighted the decline in the number of ordinands, which as David Goodhew has pointed out has a potentially catastrophic long-term impact.

There are some things to be encouraged about. The Parish Giving Scheme is working well and being used more widely. Important analysis is being completed about diocesan finance. But the overall picture is increasingly unsustainable. The consolidated deficit across the dioceses in 2024 is doubling from last year to a total of £60m.

On the other hand, we have substantial assets in some dioceses and in many churches—though they are very unevenly distributed. There continues to be massive duplication of administrative functions.

Read here


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