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General Synod: Archbishops’ Council budget, and a presentation on its annual report

‘To reap a harvest, you need to invest’


John Spence (Archbishops’ Council) addresses the Synod

John Spence (Archbishops’ Council) addresses the Synod

THE Archbishops’ Council’s budget was introduced by John Spence (Archbishops’ Council), who chairs the finance committee.

Mr Spence said that he would be placing the 2019 budget in the context of 2020 onwards. The direction of average attendances in the Church was clearly in decline, and the average age of congregations was much higher than in the wider society. In 2016, for the first time, the total from planned giving had declined. Parish-share growth had struggled, with a 0.4-per-cent decline year on year, which was worrying.

Mr Spence said that Renewal and Reform was about going out into society with the fire of Jesus Christ’s message burning, which has financial implications. “To reap the harvest, you need to invest,” he said. Financial commitment to Christ was just one part of evangelism. Twenty per cent more ordinands in 2018/19 were evidence that Renewal and Reform was working, as was the growth of the Church digitally, together with the Setting God’s People Free programme and Strategic Development Fund grants. More than 60 per cent of dioceses had received grants.

Other examples of the impact of Renewal and Reform were peer reviews, simplification, “How We Work”, and the Strategic Leadership Development programme.

Dioceses had told the Archbishops’ Council that the transition from Darlow had been tough, he said. Income from parishes was the great constraint for dioceses. Dioceses were also nervous about drawing on assets, and needed more long-term confidence.

Mr Spence was “absolutely brimming with confidence” that the Church would have a long-term financial future. Tasks for the Archbishops’ Council included imbuing confidence in the wider Church; identifying and aggregating needs and opportunities; prioritising in consultation; achieving a solution that was equitable for the whole Church; and fostering efficiency, enterprise, and innovation.

Mr Spence said that it was important for the whole Church to work together and for everyone to contribute to the financial future. “Church House, serving the dioceses and parishes alike, needs to move into a new phase of innovation,” he said.

The features of the 2019 budget include: providing funding for the increased number of ordinands; increasing capacity for safeguarding and developing Renewal and Reform; seeking efficiencies in existing work; increasing contributions from other funding partners to help dioceses; and, pending a strategic funding solution, the Council would spend £2 million from its assets.

Mr Spence thanked the Corporation of Church House, the Church Commissioners, and AllChurches Trust Ltd. Working together was, he said, the way to meet the needs of the Church in the 2020s.

Mr Spence spoke of valley people and mountain people — both good, but mountain people went beyond what they knew was safe. “Only mountain people get the satisfaction of scaling the peak.” The Synod had chosen, through Renewal and Reform, to be mountain people. Mr Spence said that he was a mountain person.

He moved the budget recommendations.

The Archdeacon of Oxford, the Ven. Martin Gorrick (Oxford), said that he had been converted on Saturday to the work of digital evangelism. He was concerned about the grant from the Corporation of Church House to the Archbishops’ Council, because of its hosting of a recent arms conference. He urged an ethical lettings policy for Church House.

The Bishop of Guildford, the Rt Revd Andrew Watson, expressed concern about the funding of ordinations and curacies. One of the joys of meeting the vocation teams was the exuberance of new ordinands. But dioceses were having to make significant reductions in their stipendiary workforce to meet growing costs. As the Church prayed its way towards a further growth of ordinands, it needed a “detailed plan of action” by the beginning of next year, if the growth was going to continue with enthusiasm.

Julie Dziegiel (Oxford) said that the most important part of the report was the apportionment table. Oxford diocese had an increase of 3.8 per cent, which was more than £40,000, she said. This was having an impact on the parish share in her diocese. They needed communication through the layers of church so that ordinary churchgoers knew what happened to their money. The Millennial generation were saddled by student debt and growing costs and so could not afford to give as much to the Church as previous generations.

The Revd Dr Philip Plyming (Universities and TEIs) said that the TEI sector was committed to the increase in ordinands that the Church had requested. He told the Synod that the increased partnership with dioceses had been beneficial for his work. He wondered whether, for those who “don’t live and breathe Resourcing Minsterial Education”, he should give some context to the report. Band 3 candidates did not get the same funding as younger ordination candidates, and fewer Band 3 candidates were entering residential theological colleges.

Dr Plyming welcomed the decision of the Mission Council to fund dioceses that did not have the funding for Band 3 candidates. The drop in funding for those aged over 40 who entered ordination was a matter for concern, and he was glad that it was being addressed.

Zahida Mallard (Leeds) welcomed the report, but also urged the Synod to include and welcome all. It was important to monitor inclusion and diversity so that all communities now, and going into the future, were welcome.

Annika Mathews (C of E Youth Council) spoke in relation to the comments on young people and giving. Miss Matthews said that she gave her time rather than her money, as she had been volunteering over the past few years. She was unsure about tithing, whom she should give to, and how much. She suggested an online debit system. She wanted to hear how dioceses were advised on receiving money from young people, to tap into their evangelism. As young people moved from church to church, she said, it proved difficult to contribute to one church.

Penny Allen (Lichfield) asked whether reduction of the carbon footprint and energy bills of churches could be given priority. She asked Mr Spence whether the increase in utility bills was because of increased use of Lambeth Palace. She thanked the Synod for helping Lichfield as a low-income diocese.

Carl Hughes (Southwark) spoke in favour of the budget, which he had helped to shape as a member of the Finance Committee. The overall budgetary increase translated to only three per cent from dioceses, and it was not sustainable to draw on funds only from other places. Costs will only increase as more ordinands entered the ministry, and there needed to be a longer-term strategic approach to other sources of funding. Southwark diocese’s scheme of parish giving had been introduced three years ago, and had been working, Mr Hughes said. He asked whether the principles of this parish giving scheme, where poorer parishes were helped by others, could be translated to working between dioceses. He argued that dioceses with more historical resources should help poorer dioceses.

Keith Cawdron (Liverpool) said that he was a “valley person”. He told Synod of three concerns: there needed to be an integrated plan of all the spending taken by the Archbishops’ Council, and an overview of the NCIs, to give a clear picture; and his third concern was that the Synod could not see grants given to dioceses, and the Church should not take pride in being less transparent than the rest of the public sector.

Mr Spence said that the increase in utility bills was due to increased occupancy of Church House. He agreed with Mr Cawdron about making budgets more of a “joined-up” picture. He said that the Council needed to respond to Mr Hughes’s points.

The Synod took note of the report and approved expenditure of £17,337,309 (Training for Ministry); £18,793,759 (National Church Responsibilities); £1,252,816 (Grants and Provisions); £822,290 (Mission Agency Clergy Pension Contributions), and £5,046,284 (CHARM Scheme). It approved the apportionment among the dioceses, and the pooling adjustment for 2019 in respect of additional maintenance grants for ordinands.


Annual report

THE Synod also received a presentation on the Archbishops’ Council’s annual report, followed by questions and answers. It was given by Mary Chapman (Archbishops’ Council), who chairs the Audit Committee, and Matthew Frost (Archbishops’ Council), a member of the Strategic Investment Board.

Mr Frost spoke of the Council as “utterly committed to Renewal and Reform”. The increase in income and expenditure of more than £50 million was highlighted, and the grants of £44.6 million in Strategic Development Funds given to 27 dioceses.

Reading the 20 proposals seeking such funding had been, he said, “one of the most encouraging moments” of his year. Other statistics included the 6.8 million people who viewed the Christmas social-media campaign; and the “exponential growth” in Thy Kingdom Come (more than 50 denominations in more than 85 countries took part). In 2017, the overall number of women entering ordination training was higher, and rising faster, than at any point in the past ten years.

The work of the Clewer Initiative on modern slavery was highlighted. “We need to make progress much further and faster to include all our brothers and sisters in every part of the Church,” Mrs Chapman said.

Mr Frost said that the Council was “relentlessly focused on serving the front line”, having been “half wary it was going to be an ivory tower”. He had also been “really encouraged to see the way the Council is wrestling more and more with that question of growth”. Mrs Chapman also spoke of a “much clearer focus on growth” and on “deepening our relationships with dioceses and cathedrals”.

She concluded: “We can beat ourselves up a lot, and it’s true there is an enormous amount to do, but there has been tangible progress in a number of ways. . . One swallow doesn’t make a summer, but it is a beautiful encouraging sign of summer and better times to come.”

The Revd Dr Patrick Richmond (Norwich) asked about the Council’s commitment to supporting families in passing on the faith. Mr Frost said that there was “a great deal going on”, and that there was “work under way to look at families and schools, and how these work together, with the House of Bishops”. He expected that next year’s annual report would contain “something explicit on this”.

The Revd Bill Braviner (Durham) noted that more than one third of the population had a disability or a long-term health condition, and asked about progress to give priority to seeing those numbers reflected among the body of the Church, including the leadership. Mrs Chapman said that the Council tried to be “as inclusive as we can”, and included two members with a disability.

Alison Coulter (Winchester) asked about progress in simplifying legislation. Mrs Chapman confirmed that a legislative reform committee had been formed, chaired by Canon Simon Butler.

David Lamming (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) asked how much of the £1.61 million spent on safeguarding had been spent on engagement with IICSA, and how much work this had entailed. Mr Frost confirmed that thousands of pages had been written, shared, and reviewed by Church House staff, two of whom had been dedicated to work with IICSA.

Canon Simon Taylor (Derby) suggested that, in terms of statistics about an increase in women training for ordination, “the danger is that it hides quite a lot.” Had there been an increase in the number of women being accepted for training for stipendiary and incumbent-status ministry? Mr Frost said that there had been an increase, but requested that Ministry Division be asked for the specific numbers.

The Bishop of Gloucester, the Rt Revd Rachel Treweek, asked: “How can we ensure that all our visual representations have a much higher percentage of people who are not white?” Mrs Chapman said that the Council had tried to achieve this in its report, and that the new Estates Evangelism Task Group video, launched the previous evening, reflected work with the BAME community.

The Revd Sarah Schofield (Lichfield) said that, as a member of the Archbishops’ Council, she had not seen the video shown at the start of the presentation. Had people with disabilities been consulted? Mrs Chapman said: “Thank you for calling us out,” and confirmed that the content of the presentation had not been subject to consultation. “We will do better next time.”

Lucy Docherty (Portsmouth) struggled to find a reference to ecumenical work. What about the commitment to this? Mr Frost said that the Council would try to draw the work out explicitly in the next annual report.

Robin Lunn (Worcester) asked about the extra challenges in administering and bidding for free schools, and also how many people had made use of the Crossing the Threshold resources. Mr Frost confirmed that strategic thinking on schools was developed in partnership with the National Society, and that funding for new schools was under consideration at the moment. “Measurement is something that is increasingly on our mind,” he said.

Read a report of every General Synod presentation and debate from York 2018, here

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