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Cuts in parochial ministry in Southwark diocese

by
11 January 2013

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From the Revd Marcus P. M. Stewart
Sir, - You report (News, 4 January) that Southwark diocese has proposed a stipendiary-clergy reduction of 30 by 2017 (10 per cent). This appears in a November 2012 report; yet, in December, two archdeacons were appointed to fill a complement of six (their stipends being more than a third more than parish priests'); and there are four bishops. Reduction of these senior posts has been rejected.

Parish clergy will find it breathtaking that only parish posts are to be cut. The total number of stipendiary parish clergy reduces every year, according to church statistics, and yet the number of dignitaries remains constant, and Oxford, for example, is appointing an additional archdeacon. This is a disgrace.

Southwark is an obvious candidate for episcopal and archidiaconal reduction. "Archdeacons continue to play a vital role in encouraging and equipping the Church's mission and ministry and it would be wrong . . . to reduce their number," it states.

Parish priests are bound to ask why, apparently, they matter less in the "vital role" - particularly as it is they who generate funding. Senior staff complain that they are relatively busy, owing to common-tenure administration - a self-inflicted burden that has, in any case, been assuaged by the appointment of HR officers. Another self-inflicted wound was the Clergy Discipline Measure - a sledgehammer to crack a nut. This has added hugely to central expense.

Parishioners and clergy need to be asking some hard questions.

MARCUS STEWART
Highgate, 29 Callis Court Road
Broadstairs CT10 3AH

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