Dear members of St James, and our wider church community,
Now that the Diocese’s Generous Giving Campaign has come to a close, we wanted to update you on the financial picture at both parish and Diocese level. You may like to take one of the small Generous Giving booklets from church for further reading.
Broadly speaking, the Diocese has been running at about £1million annual deficit, and have been borrowing money and digging into reserves to make ends meet. The Diocese collects money from all the parishes using The Fairer Share, and then uses that money to pay the clergy for each parish and benefice. A small amount is used to pay for the salaries of a small team of support workers at Church House, in Salisbury, who provide assistance with faculties, emergency or unusual situations, ongoing training, property maintenance and a number of other essential tasks. So pretty much all the money collected by the Diocese is then spent on our clergy salaries. The Fairer Share is a way to make sure that even a poor parish can have access to a priest, by using richer parishes to subsidise poorer ones. We are in the latter category and are heavily subsidised.
Share money pays for a Parish Priest – her/his training, housing, stipend, pension. If you want a priest in your parish you have to pay your share, and if you don’t, you are more likely to be amalgamated with other parishes and share a priest across a bigger benefice. Fortunately this year we will probably manage to pay our share but with share contributions next year going up by 5% – to over £30K – we may well struggle.
Right now, with the deficit that the Diocese has been running, they have had to make a number of people redundant and they have joined more parishes into benefices because they/we cannot afford to pay the clergy we would ideally have. It is a tremendously troubling and difficult time.
During the Generous Giving Campaign, the Diocese tried to provide some simple statements and diagrams to help us at parish level to
understand the challenge we face. One of these has caught the attention of the PCC, our church leadership, as a useful one: on average across the Diocese, our people give £10 per week; by national standards this is rather low! If this £10 were to be increased to £12.50 per week, there would no longer be a financial problem with paying our clergy.
We, in your PCC, found this helpful and striking. Of course, we know that many of our givers are in no position to consider such an uplift in giving. But some of us could, and some from our wider church community, who do not currently give, might consider giving £2.50 per week to support the ongoing ministry of our church here in Ludgershall and Faberstown.
Sometimes the financial situation of the church is misunderstood and some imagine that huge investments mean that the national church is incredibly wealthy. This is a misconception. Yes, the church does have many investments but the return on those at the moment is negligible as every one with any investments of their own will know and such money as is generated is used to pay the stipends of the bishops. Our share money does not go to any of that. Equally, there are no government grants whatsoever.
Please take time to consider these issues, and should you have any questions, or like more information, please come and discuss it with a member of the PCC. We welcome an open conversation about these financial matters because they are going to influence our parish and benefice’s future shape and clergy provision.
Thank you for all you do, and thank you for your kind gifts to the ministry of this place. Those gifts do make a difference and enable so much good to be done.
St James PCC