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Review of Diocesan Support for Mission and Ministry

 9 June 2008

When the size of the projected deficit in this year’s budget became clear, I convened a small group to look at how it might be tackled – and to consider how we might avoid an even larger deficit in the following years’ budgets. That group recommended that urgent steps should be taken to reduce parochial clergy numbers to our clergy share so that we deploy our fair share in relation to other dioceses. This recommendation was accepted by Bishop’s Council and deaneries are currently working hard on the production of plans to enable such reduction to happen.

 The Group also recommended that we should review expenditure on diocesan support for mission and ministry. This is not simply in order that everyone in the Diocese ‘shares the pain’ and limit the rises in parish share that would otherwise be necessary, laudable though these motivations might be. It is also a matter of enabling a proper balance to be maintained between diocesan and parochial expenditure . Alastair Findlay, Chair of the DBF, has pointed out that the great majority of our expenditure is on parochial ministry but that, were nothing to be done to reduce diocesan expenditure, draft budgets show that the proportion spent on parish ministry would drop significantly over the next few years.  This would result in a shift of the balance of resourcing away from parishes at a time when one might hope that less expenditure on stipendiary clergy to release funds for imaginative mission initiatives in parishes and deaneries.

A reduction in stipendiary ministry and the rise in authorised and licensed lay ministries which we hope will accompany it will, no doubt,  require more diocesan expenditure in some areas than has hitherto been the case. However, if such extra expenditure is necessary, we ought perhaps to be asking ourselves whether there is other expenditure that we need to forgo in order to maintain the above balance.

 With this in mind, and following consultation with Alastair Findlay, Bishop David, Archdeacon Fred and Robert Higham, I have asked Bishop David to chair a group which will be charged with reviewing diocesan support for mission and ministry, with particular reference to diocesan posts. I shall be asking the group to make recommendations on how the balance of our expenditure might be shifted towards rather than away from parishes over the coming years. Just as deaneries are not being asked to look at clergy redundancies, it is not envisaged that anyone will be made redundant through this process but, rather, that posts may not be filled when they fall vacant. The group will be asked to report to Bishop’s Council at its January meeting next year. 

 I commend the process to your prayers as we seek God’s will for the proclamation of the gospel in our diocese.

 

With my very best wishes,

 

Yours,

Dr John Inge

 
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