This evening (Tues 15th Nov) over 100 supporters and organisers of the Save the Parish movement (STP) met with MPs to discuss the pressing issues facing parishes up and down the country.

The event, hosted by Chris Loder MP in the House of Commons, is the first in a series of sessions being run STP in Parliament over the next 7 months, aimed at informing support amongst MPs and Lords.

Supporters and MPs heard from speakers who outlined the significant problems parishes are facing up and down the country: reduction in clergy numbers, the merger of parishes, a bloating of diocesan administration, top-down targets for parishes, the threat of sweeping diocesan reorganisation schemes, and the selling of parsonages, to name a few.

Key to STP’s presentation in the House of Commons was an explanation of CofE and diocesan finance. Their argument: ‘There is an alternative [to the closing of parishes].’

Speaking during the financial portion of the session, Sir James Burnell-Nugent- part of STP’s Steering Committee- said:

“Hard-pressed parishes, especially small and rural ones, are being squeezed into ever larger groups, with fewer and fewer clergy.  If the Church of England continues with this strategy, congregations will inevitably decline, and so will donations, thereby creating unnecessary financial pressure.

“The Church must cut its excessive bureaucracy in its 42 dioceses to free up money for more clergy.  This rebalancing of resources in favour of the church’s front line is essential for its survival.  It can be done.  It must be done.”

STP used the latter portion of their 2-hour session in the Commons to appeal directly to parish-loving people everywhere. They asked their supporters to contact their MP, letting them know how they felt about their parish as a centre for ‘community, faith, and heritage.’ Supporters were encouraged to invite their local MP to a large briefing of MPs and Lords, scheduled to take place in the Spring of 2023.

Speaking about the event, host Chris Loder MP said:

“This event has been a real success. I’ve been very happy to host- and continue hosting- STP in Parliament in the future.

“The Church of England is at a crossroads. Parishes face real threats to their existence, and I know that people across the country, as well as in my own constituency, would be devastated if the churches they grew up around ceased to exist.

“Parliament absolutely has a role to play in this ongoing debate. The Church is accountable to Parliament, and as MPs, we should be sticking up for our local parishes. Even if you are not religious yourself, parishes are the central pillar of so many communities- and especially rural communities. If we lose them, our national heritage is also at risk.

“This is the first in a series of events in Parliament. We had over 100 people here, including MPs and Lords. I’m looking forward to hosting more, and hope that my colleagues are checking their inboxes for lots of emails from supporters of Save the Parish.”

Chairman of Save the Parish, The Rev’d Marcus Walker said:

“I think what this evening shows is that there is something really substantial happening within the Church. People have come from all over the country to be here tonight to hear about what is happening.

“We have our foot firmly on the accelerator at STP. We started in Synod, we’ve set up regional organisations, we’re conducting research into diocesan finance, and now we’re in Parliament. In the fight to Save the Parish, we are exploring every opportunity.

“Our pitch to Parliamentarians is simple: parishes represent a massive, indispensable, silent support network for millions of people across the country. They are vital for so many local communities. In many places, they are central to taking care of people and providing support and comfort in times of hardship and loss. If we lose them the loss to the nation will be to the tune of £55 billion. At a time when difficult decisions must be made regarding the public purse, ensuring that parishes, and the support they provide, are protected and supported- using money which already exists within the CofE- is paramount.

“We will be contacting all our supporters over the next few days, encouraging them to send a letter to their MP and to invite them to our big briefing in 2023, so we can spread this message far and wide in Westminster.”

The template letter, which STP is sending to their supporters, can be accessed via their website. Details on how you can find your MP’s contact details are available via Parliament’s website.

Categories: Press Release


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *