Campaigners from Save the Parish (STP) have reacted to today’s announcement by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York of a new £1.2 billion, three-year fund to deliver grant money for “the revitalisation of parish and local ministry.”
During the press conference, the Archbishops addressed their own shortcomings, admitting that they had been neglectful of the plight of local and rural parishes and ministry.
Archbishop of York Stephen Cottrell said: “I don’t think we need to be embarrassed by saying we’ve learned, we’ve listened. We’ve changed our mind.”
It comes alongside significant and mounting pressure on parishes, with many reporting threats from their dioceses of mergers with other parishes, and cuts to paid clergy positions. Meanwhile, church numbers have declined in all but 3 of 42 dioceses.
Speaking to the Telegraph after the press conference, Save the Parish campaigner and team member Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent sounded a note of caution, saying “We welcome the recognition of the pleading from Save The Parish and similar organisations that are fighting against cuts in clergy and the formation of mega-parishes.
“It is very pleasing that rural and small parishes will be able to apply for the new funding, having been deliberately excluded from the previous three-year round.
“The proof of the pudding will be whether these new funds are genuinely accessible in a way that eases the huge burden of the parish share which is a struggle for so many parishes.”