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.

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“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.

ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

  1. 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.’
  2. 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
  3. In Cornwall, the Truro Diocese branch of STP was set up in April 2022. For more information email savetheparish@gmail.com. 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:
Categories: Press Release

3 Comments

David Richards · 11 May 2022 at 9:12 am

Looking at this from the Diocese of WInchester, there’s a lot here that has a familiar ring. Former CEO of CMS, refusal to dialogue, lack of synodical scrutiny, convinced he’s right and those who ask reasonable questions are wrong… There’s one way this could go and it will not be good for the Bishop if he cannot bring his diocesan synod with him. This is where your focus should be in holding the Bishop and his inner circle to account for the expenditure of these significant sums of money.

Sandra Clark · 24 May 2022 at 1:17 pm

Hurrah for the STP people in Cornwall for standing their ground and shame on the Bishop of Truro for his arrogance. The last time I looked we still had freedom of speech in this country! Outrageous, too, of the Bishop of Leicester to intimate that none of the new monies would be going to rural communities. According to the report of the two Archbishops’ press conference on the multi-million pound increase proposed, the aim was to grow new worshipping communities – why do we need new communities, when we have a perfectly good parish system which needs “life support”, in the rural areas at least.

Religion news 20 June 2022 - Religion Media Centre · 20 June 2022 at 6:19 am

[…] this weekend, to encourage churches to reach out into the community. The diocese is embroiled in a vigorous debate over how it spends its money, with the Save the Parish campaign saying it is throwing money at […]

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