THE Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard
Chartres, introduced an order to continue funding the Churches
Conservation Trust (CCT) by £1.35 million a year, the same amount
as the Church provided in 2001. Government funding for the Trust
had been cut since the recession, and its viability was in doubt if
more money were not found. "The Church will not and cannot pick up
the shortfall from government."
Dr John Beal (West Yorkshire & the Dales)
spoke to support the CCT. The £1.35 million contributed by the
Church Commissioners each year was turned into some £6.25 million
through government funding, donations, and grants, he said.
The Revd Dr Patrick Richmond (Norwich)
challenged the Synod to be realistic about the likelihood of more
and more buildings' becoming redundant in the future. "The
buildings do not shuffle off quite as easily as the ageing members
of our congregations," he warned.
The Revd Tony Redman (St Edmundsbury &
Ipswich) said that church buildings helped with the Church's
mission, because they "tell stories of hope, suffering, and
success". But he warned against struggling congregations' showing
more love for their buildings than for their priest or
Canon Christopher Lilley (Lincoln) spoke of the
three churches in his parish looked after by the CCT: "It has been
a real joy and pleasure to work with them in partnership." But "We
do need to look at how, in larger rural dioceses with many Grade I
buildings, we can support the future of these churches."
April Alexander (Southwark) pointed to a
disparity between the National Trust, which had 200 properties and
5000 staff, and the CCT, which had 345 buildings and employed 50
full-timers. She urged the Synod to back the motion, and promote
the Trust's work.
The Archdeacon of Lincoln, the Ven. Timothy
Barker (Lincoln), said that a review committee on buildings which
he was leading had decided that it was a "bad witness" to close
Canon Steven Saxby (Chelmsford) advised:
"Talking up church closure is unhelpful to mission."
The Revd Duncan Dormor (University of
Cambridge) said that the C of E had "much it could learn" from the
CCT's "fantastic" volunteer recruitment and training procedures.
"Loyd Grossman is an outstanding advocate for parish churches in
this country within the heritage world, and the CCT stands out in
that world," he said. "We in the Church of England should be
immensely proud of that."
Bishop Chartres responded to the debate by welcoming a move to a
clearer statistical base about church growth and decline, with the
publication of the report From Anecdote to Evidence. Only
20 churches a year were being closed, he said, which was not an
"enormous spate". "But those who are anxious about the future have
good cause." The Church would continue to argue with the Government
for a more "realistic partnership" in the care of redundant
The Synod approved the Order, which will become a Statutory
Instrument after Parliamentary approval. It requires the Church
Commissioners to pay £4,065,000 to the CCT for the period 1 April
2015 to 31 March 2018, together with a top-up amount of up to
£150,000 from excess proceeds and premiums.