Money “enables the mind to do its work”
THE General Synod on Monday morning approved the Archbishops’ Council spending for 2023, which includes a recommendation that the diocesan allocation should be kept unchanged at the same level as 2022: £31.3 million.
Out of the five budget elements, £15.7 million has been allocated for ministry training (vote one). The operating budget for national tasks was set at £33.1 million (vote two). There was £1.5m for grants (vote three). The provision for mission agency pension contributions was set at £0.6m (vote four) and £5.8m was set aside for clergy retirement housing (vote five).
This totaled £56.8m, an increase of £4.3m over the 2022 budget. It reflected a £1.1m drop in training for the service, a reduction from the forecast Number of ordinands starting training in fall 2022 by 59 compared to the number expected to complete their training this year.
It also envisaged an 11 percent increase in the number of new entrants in the fall of 2023 — roughly equivalent to the number of ordinands expected to graduate next year.
The £4.9m operating budget increase was mainly due to a £4m increase in the Emerging Church Program budget related to “temporary limited costs in administrative and housing operations” (principally relating to Church House, Westminster ) attributed. The main component of the £0.3m increase in the grant budget was an increase in the Council’s legal expenses fund and the £0.1m reduction in mission agencies’ pension contributions reflected the interim reduction in the contribution rate to the clergy pension scheme.
The five per cent increase (£0.5m) in clergy retirement housing grant reflected the cost of inflation and the growth of the housing portfolio to meet demand from the expected peak in the number of clergymen retiring.
The diocesan allotment of £31.3m was the same as 2022 and £1.7m (5.2 per cent) less than 2019 in cash. The Diocese of Oxford continued to have the highest allocation at £1,872,719 and Sodor & Man the lowest at £85,403.
Church Commissioners’ grant funding of £19.5m was £6m more than in 2022. This included an additional £4m for the Emerging Church Scheme, £2.5m for Protection and £0.5m Pounds for general operations offset by a £1m reduction in additional Ordinands funding.
A £1.1m reduction in external revenue by £2.5m reflected an expected grant cut from the Corporation of the Church House. The annual £1.75m that it raised in 2019-22 was used to fund the cost of the shelter, but this grant “may well be lower in the short term, reflecting the investment in church house refurbishment”. says the report.
Accommodation income of £1.2m was also £0.2m less than in 2022, “reflecting the reduction in the footprint of NCI’s church house following the move to hybrid work”.
The report highlights that the budget builds on the Transforming Effectiveness work, which resulted in savings of £2m across NCIs. It takes into account the increased financial contribution from church officials as part of the 2023-25 spending plan.
It also notes that much of the detailed work on the budget was done ahead of the sharp rise in actual and expected inflation this year and next. The budget therefore includes a modest reserve to reflect the increased risk of inflation, “but this remains a risk,” it says.
It also does not include the additional resources needed to meet key aspects of the broader spending plans, particularly in support of the Vision and Strategy and the Net Zero work, but affirms: “We can assure the synod and dioceses that these additional spending will not affect the diocesan allocation.”
submission of the report, John Spence, Chair of the Finance Committee of the Council of Archbishops, recognized “the real financial challenges facing the churches at a time when the pool of regular donors is increasing in age and decreasing in number.” The 2020 community share decreased seven percent from 2019, and the 2021 share decreased three percent from 2020.
But he urged dioceses whose donations were well below the level – between 10 and 20 percent lower – to “see what can be done to reach out to other dioceses. Generosity is both the enabler and the result of parish revitalization. We cannot survive by subsidizing the past. . . Inflation is the enemy of ambition.”
But there were also positives: the clergy pension fund, for example, had returned to surplus and the consultation had paved the way for more to be done to further reduce contributions.
Mr Spence affirmed: “We are united, one body in Christ. Money is not the end game, but an enabler to release the Holy Spirit to do His work. Let’s release the Holy Spirit; . . . follow best practice; inspire each other to build a “can-do” culture; help communities and parishes to revitalize themselves; be innovative and take risks.”
The Archdeacon of Blackburn, the Ven. Mark Ireland (Blackburn) was concerned about the burden on communities and loss of financial benefits that would likely result from the national cemetery survey of searchable records that the C of E had outsourced to Family Search, an agency of the Mormon Church.
Not only would communities lose out on financial benefits, but they would also have to pay an annual fee of £96, he said. Most records were kept by county archives, kept at public expense, and without that source of income they might not want to renew them. “We can create confusion in the minds of vulnerable adults if we link to a website affiliated with the Mormon Church – a church that is not recognized by any ecumenical body.” In just four clicks, inquirers would be directed to an offer of prayer and a visit from two representatives of the Mormons. The church should not outsource spirituality, he said.
Andrew Orange (Winchester) was concerned about excessive costs at the heart of the Church of England. The budget figures were given in millions: one million was “roughly the cost of employing 20 vicars.” He noted that the operating budget for the national church was 17 percent higher than in 2022, “which seems like a big increase even in inflationary times,” and a large portion of that was earmarked for the emerging church. It is a very large sum of money and he cannot vote for it, he said.
Penny Allen (Lichfield) was concerned about the size of the budget for ministry training related to the loss of posts in dioceses. “It would be deeply unkind to set expectations of training for ministry and end up not being able to provide them with work,” she said. “We have to be very careful not to do that [do that] without being able to finance it in the future.”
Sue Slater (Lincoln) wanted a change to the title “Training for Ministry,” which was all about the training of ordinands. She suggested involving all ministries. “Where does the money for lay education come from?” she asked. “Can we assume that dioceses will have to raise all the money?”
Reverend Dr. Sean Doherty (Universities and TEIs) was grateful for the support of the Council of Archbishops to mitigate the impact of fluctuating numbers, but said a change was needed in the way ordination training is funded.
Adrian Greenwood (Southwark) was concerned about the “laudable goal”—which he wholeheartedly supported—of doubling the number of children and youth in the Church by 2030; However, working with this age group has been severely impacted by the pandemic. “We’re starting from scratch,” he said, given the high proportion of communities without children. There was also a gap in the number of trained youth workers, many of whom had been attracted to the ordination. “I advocate bringing together education, the ministry’s development team and the training of youth workers; It’s important that they talk to each other all the time.”
The Archbishop of Canterbury the synod reminded: “We are the General Synod of the Church of England: we must remember that God is involved.” Unless the Church invested quickly in training and development, it simply engaged in “elegant management of decline” and dignity see no growth because “we’re not going to have anyone step up and say, ‘Here I am. Send me.’” That would result, he said, in the C of E’s simply being “a very large mutual fund with a very small affiliated church.”
The Archdeacon of Bath, the Ven. dr Adrian Youings (Bath & Wells) noted with concern that 37 percent of retired clergy were unable to move into their CHARM home immediately upon retirement. The congregations consequently had to pay the rent for those who had to vacate the rectory and were waiting to move. He also asked if additional funds were likely to be made available from First Post of Responsibility funding.
The synod takes note of the report before voting on each of the five budget items.
Regarding vote 1 (training for service), Rev. Jo Winn-Smith (Guildford) reacted emotionally to an earlier suggestion by Mr Spence that TIEs should be “a little more entrepreneurial”. In fact, the two days of classes she had just had to give up would have taken “much, much more time. We’re trying desperately to get others to come in.”
Mr Spence was quick to apologize: he said he was referring to the sector and not individuals.
Vote 1 was accepted.
CarlHughes (Southwark), Mr Spence’s deputy, commended Church House’s “fantastic” finance team for managing an entire church economy which he said was difficult and challenging and required considerable insight. Parishes, dioceses and cathedrals have all faced significant financial challenges post Covid and at a time of high inflation.
Rev Martin Poole (Chichester) felt that the title “Emerging Church” should be changed in Vote 2. He had assumed they were Fresh Expressions and landmark churches, and was disappointed to discover that they were the Church House renovation. Mr. Spence assured the synod that “the pain at the diocesan level has at least been offset by the staff at Church House.”
Vote 2 was accepted.
There was no debate on votes 3, 4 and 5, all of which passed:
That this Synod approve the proposals of the Council of Archbishops (set out in the Allocation Table in GS 2268) for:
1) the distribution among the dioceses of the net amount to be provided by them, to enable the Council to cover the expected expenses shown in its budget for the year 2023; and
2) the pool adjustment for 2023 in relation to additional maintenance contributions for Ordinands.