Rejoice and be glad
Financially speaking, 2017 was not a bad year. Our Common Fund shows a deficit of just over £80,000 which is about 0.5% of our total expenditure ie virtually breaking even. However, although parish share receipts showed a useful increase over the previous year, the percentage received fell by about 1% which was disappointing. The shortfall in parish share receipts was fortunately offset by some positive variances on a number of expenditure headings: otherwise, the deficit would have been higher.
With fewer people coming to church, (although a good number of parishes are seeing growing membership), there is no doubt that many parishes do find that the financial situation is challenging. Please be assured that the Board of Finance is well aware of these pressures and every year the diocesan budget is reviewed in detail to identify areas where savings might be made so that the parish share request can be realistic. And our efforts will continue.
The plain fact is that collectively, the church members of today have to fund parochial ministry: that is where the parish share goes – to pay, house, pension and train our clergy and the clergy of the future. If we want to keep our parochial clergy then we have to find the money to pay for them.
I know that several parishes have joined the Parish Giving Scheme as part of their stewardship programmes and without exception, they have seen levels of giving rise with the prospect of increasing that income each year. You might want to look at this (there is a good deal of information on the diocesan web site about it) if you have not already done so. And if you think that it would be good to talk through any difficulties then do say – we are always very willing to meet and discuss problems.
Let us rejoice and be glad that we are able to proclaim our faith boldly, that we can sustain ministry in the parishes, schools and chaplaincies throughout the diocese and that with your help, we can continue to Live God’s Love with generosity and joy, imagination and courage in all that we do.
Canon David Nye, DBF Chair
New Book: Who Is My Neighbour? The global and personal challenge
Who Is My Neighbour? The global and personal challenge is edited by Revds Richard Carter and Samuel Wells and contributors include Archbishop Justin Welby, Brendan Cox, Archbishop Lord Rowan Williams, Sarah Teather, Rabbi Shulamit Ambalu and Professor Stanley Hauerwas
In the words of one of the editors, Sam Wells (Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields), whose mother came to the UK in 1938 as an asylum seeker,
‘this is a book about migration, about cross-cultural relationships, fear, discovery, surprises, politics and faith… We are experiencing extraordinary movements of people… that reflect the political, climatic, social and economic changes affecting our continent and world… Migrants are the flotsam and jetsam of the ocean wave of global power… To turn our backs on migrants is to forget our identity, inhibit our renewal and deny our destiny.’
With much first hand experience of those who are displaced whether through homelessness, migration or a combination of those and other factors, the editors acknowledge that there is no simple answer to the ‘demanding issue’ of migration, but they criticise Western governments’ policy to ‘shoo people away as much as possible for as long as possible’ and the way that migrants have become ‘the visible embodiment of these terrifying risks that seem to have no limits or borders post 9/11’ and ‘the flashpoint of existing social tensions about taxation and welfare provision and shortage of housing’. Many of the UK and USA’s most dynamic leaders and shapers were from immigrant families – and Jesus himself was a migrant, with displacement being a key theme in the Bible. ‘Richly challenging and deeply engaging,’ is the Bishop of Stepney’s verdict on this book.
Paperback, 288 pages, 978 0 281 07840 0, £9.99
Unmissable Easter Sunday Broadcasting
On BBC Radio 4
Easter Sunday Service from St Albans Cathedral, 0810, preacher, the Bishop of St Albans
On BBC iPlayer
Songs of Praise, Sunday 25th March (Palm Sunday) from St Albans Cathedral and St Martin’s, Shenley