We are in a benefice of four churches and have been in vacancy for two years. There are three benefices in this deanery amounting to eleven churches, in vacancy. In an adjoining deanery there are three benefices in vacancy – perhaps ten or twelve churches and in another adjoining deanery nine churches in vacancy. As far as I can see most of the vicarages are let bringing in an income of between £19200 and £24000 rent per annum.
We are told the diocese do not have the finance to replace all those who have retired or moved on. What the church as a whole do not see is that they need to invest in priests- speculate to accumulate. Each time a parish priest is taken away there is a drop of approximately 40% in the congregation. Added to which those who liked to see the vicar around would support the church financially on a monthly basis. That usually goes when the priest does. That leaves the parishes with a vastly reduced income that ultimately leads to a reduction in ‘share’ being paid.
During vacancy there is only one service in our benefice instead of the previous pattern of four each week hence 75% of the ‘plate’ has gone from each church. Somehow we need the church to understand the desperate situation as we retired priests are mostly over eighty and tired and there are only a few of us to lead worship, take funerals/ weddings/school services.
Putting more churches together in each benefice puts further strain on any incumbent.
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