THE Bishop of Southwark, the Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, has
called for a day of prayer and fasting tomorrow as the diocese
prepares to make "difficult decisions" including reducing the
number of stipendiary clergy posts by 30 by 2017.
In a letter read out in all churches in the diocese on Advent
Sunday, Bishop Chessun said that it was "appropriate that we spend
time at that season in prayer and fasting, asking for God's
blessing, guidance, and grace to face the future together". He will
join other bishops in Southwark Cathedral tomorrow.
The letter was written after the report from the Strategy for
Ministry Group was approved by the diocesan synod in November.
Commissioned by Bishop Chessun in November 2011 to address "serious
financial concerns", it concluded that, with a deficit of about
£600,000 a year, "we are faced with the need to reduce the number
of stipendiary clergy".
The posts will be reduced as they become available - nobody
currently serving in a stipendiary position is expected to lose his
or her job. The report notes that 42 per cent of current
stipendiary clergy in the diocese will have reached the age of 65
by 2022. Between 2013 and 2017, each of the three Episcopal Areas
is expected to reduce the number of stipendiary posts by ten - two
every year. There are currently 290 stipendiary posts.
In the larger parochial units that will emerge from an
amalgamation process, the role of stipendiary clergy is expected to
be "increasingly episcopal, encouraging and enabling others". The
laity is also to be "valued and empowered".