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Scottish Episcopal Church Synod: Income of £20m is higher than expected

16 June 2023

Scottish Episcopal Church

Bridget Campbell, the Standing Committee convener, addresses the Synod

Bridget Campbell, the Standing Committee convener, addresses the Synod

THE Scottish Episcopal Church remains in the black for another year, despite again budgeting for a deficit (News, 17 June 2022), the Synod heard on Thursday of last week.

The convener of the Standing Committee, Bridget Campbell, presented the most recent accounts, showing a total income of almost £20 million from around the Church.

Just over half of the expenditure of the Synod, which draws 22 per cent of its funds from dioceses in the form of quota payments, was spent on supporting dioceses and congregations, she said.

Ms Campbell said that the 11.1-per-cent stipend increase from 2023 would put pressure on charges and dioceses. The Standing Committee had, therefore, put aside £365,000 for temporary transitional payments.

Overall, the Synod had operated at a surplus of £79,000 in 2022, against a budgeted deficit of £113,000. Most of the difference was accounted for by the Unit Trust Pool’s better-than-expected performance. This provided more than two-thirds of the Synod’s income, but there were also some unexpected cost reductions: for instance, posts unfilled for longer than expected.

The committee had spent more than it had budgeted on legal and advisory fees, Ms Campbell said, owing to the continuing situation in the diocese of Aberdeen & Orkney, where the Bishop, the Rt Revd Anne Dyer, was currently suspended and going through the disciplinary process (News, 7 October 2022); and the accident at a church in Peterhead, in which two church members died.

Overall, the brighter-than-expected economic picture would not last, Ms Campbell warned: the Standing Committee was budgeting for deficits in coming years.

None the less, it was prepared to make funds available for certain projects. The Rector of St Paul and St George, Edinburgh (where the meeting was being held), Canon Dave Richards, who chaired the session, encouraged members to “bear this in mind when we come to the session after tea”, at which plans for achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 were due to be heard.

The convener of the Investment Committee, Mark Harris, explained that the recent surpluses meant that releasing a large amount, such as £5 million or £10 million, over the coming years would not be “tantamount to raiding the cookie jar”, but, rather, “picking up cookies from the breakfast table, because the cookie jar overfloweth”.

 

ON SATURDAY morning, Ms Campbell presented a quota figure of £715,000 for the coming year.

She reminded members that, on Thursday, they had approved the “overall direction of travel” towards net zero, and that the Standing Committee would consider what funding to release to support this transition.

The budget and quota were approved by 98-1, with one recorded abstention.

The next proposal fronted by Ms Campbell was to delay the imposition of the formula governing the numbers of representatives that each diocese had on the Synod, until a broader review of membership statistics could be completed.

If the formula were applied on the basis of the most recent statistics, the Synod’s overall membership would decrease from 124 to 102.

The motion was carried 100 nem. con., with one recorded abstention.

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