The Bishop of Truro has curtly refused to meet campaigners fighting church cuts – while setting up a costly new unit to force through controversial multimillion-pound changes in the Diocese.
The Bishop of Truro, the Rt Rev Philip Mounstephen, this week refused outright to meet supporters of Save The Parish, who called for an open, honest and transparent audit of Diocesan finances, including costly evangelical initiatives like Transforming Mission in five towns in Cornwall.
Mounstephen told the group he had been “mulling over a response” but had decided against a meeting because it had taken its concerns to the press. At the same time, STP learned this week that the Diocese is recruiting a new Director of Change and Renewal to lead a team to push through its planned programme of cuts – at a salary of £45-50,000 per annum.Dixon C 050522(1)(1)
“It’s extraordinary to think that the Bishop will not discuss our concerns. Yet this new appointment is a kick in the teeth to clergy and congregations across Cornwall who has been asked to envisage cuts,” says STP’s Susan Roberts.Second STP letter to Bishop 8 May 2022
STP Truro’s response to Bishop Mounstephen’s letter
“The Job Description for the new post shows the new Director will lead a new team of at least six, likely to cost hundreds of thousands of pounds a year.
“The Bishop of Truro and his inner circle already spend £2.7 million on administration at Diocesan House. Why do they need further posts at all? Shouldn’t they be leading the reforms and cuts they trumpet?
“Perhaps there is a ‘reasonable’ explanation for this, but it is hard to see when brutal clergy cuts are envisaged – especially when the Bishop refuses outright to see us. Clearly, openness and democracy are not on the agenda here.
“The bishops need to convince, not to bully. This is not their money to play around with as they wish: their funds come from the Church Commissioners as well as Diocesan reserves, so they need to be accountable.
Diocesan cuts through its On The Way housekeeping process envisage chaotic and contradictory plans which involve axing local priests while enabling massive spending elsewhere through evangelical initiatives like Transforming Mission – sometimes within the very same parish.
NOTES TO EDITORS
- For more information about Save the Parish, visit https://savetheparish.com/ ‘As the Church of England moves forward in the 21st Century, and recognising the evidence that the presence of stipendiary clergy is directly related to church attendance and giving, the Save The Parish network seeks a rebalancing of resources of all kinds – clergy, finance, support for church buildings – towards parishes.’
- The Job Description for the new Director of Change and Renewal can be found on https://www.cofepathways.org/members/modules/job/detail.php?record=4309
- In Cornwall, the Truro Diocese branch of STP was set up in April 2022. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org. The branch wrote to the Bishops of Truro and St Germans on 26 April 2022 and simultaneously contacted the press about their concerns, which were subsequently covered in the Western Morning News on 29 April and 30 April 2022. The group received a reply from the Bishop on 5 May 2022: