IT WAS a depleted chamber for Sunday evening's debate on the
Archbishops' Council budget, because a number of members had
deserted to watch the World Cup final.
John Spence (Archbishops' Council), who chairs
the Finance Committee, marked the occasion by delivering a speech
full of football puns - a mood that was to continue throughout the
debate. Mr Spence told General Synod members that he wanted to
"score no home goals", and suggested that footballing terms might
"add some humour to what otherwise might be a dry occasion".
He said that the Commissioners had kept to their commitment of
not increasing the amount of money requested from dioceses by more
than the rate of inflation over the past five years.
He described the commitment as "noble, bold, and appropriate",
because it recognised the financial pressures on dioceses, and made
staff think about making efficiencies wherever possible, and Church
House think about whether it should stop doing things rather than
continue to do them "simply because things have always been done
But, he said: "It will become clear that such a commitment is
neither possible nor appropriate going forward. . . The "unintended
consequence" of the commitment was to "focus everybody on cutting
costs all the time rather than measuring the effectiveness of the
spend. Cost efficiency is no good if it is not matched with
He said that the budget was going to have to increase in future
years: "If we are truly to be a growing Church in terms of numbers
and spirituality, we are going to have to have at the centre a very
efficient but, equally, a very effective engine room in order to
co-ordinate and promulgate the work."
The Revd Dr Patrick Richmond (Norwich) welcomed
the "refreshingly realistic statement of where we are and where we
want to go", but asked for "further work in clarifying the
Gavin Oldham (Oxford) called for diocesan
budgets to be presented to the General Synod, "not for approval",
but so that the Synod could "monitor the overall cost of the
Church, to make sure we are doing things in the most efficient
The Revd Stephen Trott (Peterborough) said that
it was "vitally important that people don't come to the end of
their ministry and find themselves homeless". He questioned whether
the CHARM scheme for retired-clergy housing could be provided by
the commercial sector more cheaply.
Tim Hind (Bath & Wells) suggested that
claims of abuse could be a "crisis" for the Church of England, and
asked what provision was being put in place for compensation
The Revd Charles Read (Norwich) warned that
training institutions were "under immense financial strain, to the
point where it is difficult to do all the things we want to
Mr Spence replied that it was "totally inappropriate to start
creating a compensation fund at this stage, as it might be seen to
be some admission of responsibility, which can't be done until each
case is reviewed".
In response to Mr Read, he reminded the Synod that the budget
under Vote 1 had increased by more than 40 per cent over the past
ten years, while the number of ordinands had stayed "broadly
Elizabeth Paver (Sheffield)welcomed the
increase in funding for the Anglican Communion Office.
The Synod approved the Archbishops' Council's expected
expenditure for 2015 in the following areas: training for ministry:
£13,437,670; national support: £11,103,305; grants and provisions:
£1,264,314; mission agencies' clergy pension contributions:
£772,500; CHARM scheme: £4,151,591.
It also approved a proposed Table of Apportionment detailing the
dioceses' individual contributions to the budget in 2015, as well
as a "pooling adjustment" for additional maintenance grants for