From Elaine McCormack
Sir, - The PCC of St James's, Merton, discussed letters from
the Bishop of Southwark dated 30 January and 6 March 2014,
regarding the diocesan Root and Branch Review of the Fairer Shares
The PCC noted that archdeaconry conversations would be held in
May and early June 2014 regarding any new proposals to replace
Fairer Shares, but at this early stage the PCC wished to make the
First, it is indicated in the Study Guide for PCCs that "whilst
Fairer Shares served the Diocese well for many years, it was time
to move toa new scheme"; but there are no reasons given why this
should be the case. Fairer Shares is widely held throughout the
diocese, and beyond, to be an equitable and manifestly fair system
for the funding of ministry and mission, and only recently in the
Church Times the scheme was held up for emulation. Why,
then, is it being abandoned? There may be issues about the
collection of the parish quota, but this can be no argument for
ditching the entire scheme.
Second, the Study Guide indicates that "the Root and Branch
Group are anxious to move away from the concept of fairness as a
first consideration of what is the best approach for the future."
The PCC viewed this statement with alarm, and considered that
neither "proportionality" nor "informed generosity" offered any
better alternative for the future.
Third, the PCC was most concerned at the third principle behind
any new system, namely, that all parishes should aspire to, and be
encouraged towards, becoming self-financing. This is clearly
impossible for many parishes, which could easily become
demoralised, and there must be concerns about their future when
reorganisation plans are being considered. As we are convinced that
"bums on seats" and "paying punters" are not our sole measure of
worth, and that mission should reach out to others, the concept of
self-financing gives the appearance that the Church of England will
minister only to the rich.
Fourth, Fairer Shares was based on the relatively simple
principle that it was both necessary and appropriate for wealthier
parishesto support poorer ones financially. How will any new scheme
ensure that they continue to do so? How can poorer parishes give
Fifth, as more information has come about the "conversations"
that will happen in May and June, it appears to our PCC that these
will be ways of telling us what will be happening rather than
consultations in any meaningful sense, which dismays us.
The PCC viewed these new proposals with alarm, will send
representatives to the meetings, and looks forward to more detailed
information and further real consultationin the near future.
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