How much does it cost to keep a church open?

by
25 May 2018

Write, if you have any answers to the questions listed at the end of this section, or to add to the answers given below

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Question: Our Vicar says it costs £18 per per­son per week to keep our church open. On meeting a C of E barrister at a service elsewhere, I put this to him, and he said the Vicar was wrong, because all collections from all C of E churches, rich or poor, are sent into the Church Commis­sioners, who then “allocate funds as needed”. Who is right?

Your answers: I’m not sure where the questioner’s barrister practises, but I wouldn’t be going to him for advice any time soon. The parish share or, as it used to be called, the quota is a voluntary donation by the parishes to fund their diocese.

Of course, the diocese loves us to pay it in full; for that is what pays clergy stipends and enables the diocese to function financially. That is why it also prefers it in monthly instalments rather than at the end of the year: to keep the cashflow running.

The rest of the collection, which I can quite believe is up to £18 per person per week, pays for parish mission, the functioning of the parish (including clergy expenses), and maintaining buildings — many of them fine but ancient and now arguably unsuitable.

None of the money given down here on the plate or preferably by direct debit goes anywhere near the Church Commissioners.

(The Revd) Simon Rundell
Roborough, Devon

 

In all honesty I find the ignorance of a “C of E barrister” on this subject mind-blowing. The simple answer is absolutely no. Money does not get sent to the Church Commissioners (or anyone else) for them to allocate, as it belongs to the specific C of E church.

Legally, each parish church (or possibly a group of churches) is a charity in its own right, now usually registered with the Charity Commission. PCC members are the charity trustees who are legally responsible for ensuring that the church complies with the relevant charity law governing the disbursal of that money; thus the PCC members decide what it should be spent on, apart from any money given for a specific purpose, which is accounted for as restricted giving and does then get passed on appropriately — but rarely to the Church Commisioners!

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Matthew Clements
Bicester, Oxfordshire

 

Having been a church treasurer for many years, and as a chartered accountant, I can confidently say that the C of E barrister is wrong. While an often large proportion of a church’s income may be given to the diocese as a “parish share” or “quota”, no money has to be sent by a church to the Church Commissioners.

Michael Robinson

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

 

Your questions: Now my hearing is beginning to deteriorate, I am increasingly sensitive to sound levels. At a recent service, I used a phone app to measure the sound levels when the worship band was playing and everyone was singing. These averaged 92-96 dBA over a cumulative period of about 20 minutes. Alongside me were parents with pre-school children, aged from a few weeks old, who regularly attend. Using the same phone and app, I measured the sound level of a commercial circular saw, for which ear protection is advised during use. It registered 92 dBA in an enclosed space. These are not scientific measurements, but can any readers with the necessary specialism in audiology and child development advise whether such sound-level exposure in our churches might be harmful, and subject to safeguarding regulations?

P. R.

 

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