“A CORRESPONDENT whose letter is published this week suggests that something that the Church Commissioners should do with the resources that they hold in trust is “allocate a tiny fraction of their capital gain of £550 million in 2020 to clear the £12-million deficit accumulated by parishes in 2020 owing to Covid.”
“The answers by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, to the General Synod (11 February) point to the essence of the financial dilemma being addressed by development of an uncosted Vision and Strategy alongside the massacre, through ever more mergers and closures, of parishes that are the source of £1 billion of funding.”
SDF has enabled many people to be “brought to faith”, a new review of the programme concludes, despite the difficulty of measuring the creation of new disciples. The programme has also served as a “lightning rod” for a lack of trust within the Church of England, the authors say.” View Read more…
‘AS THE Church enters Lent, a season of repentance — a time to reflect and change our minds — it should consider how its structures and systems might be reimagined so that it can follow better God’s initiative of transformation, which is always “to make all things new” (Revelation 21.5). We need to find ways to re-engage and empower the hearts and minds of congregations. Given the chance to reimagine their churches and influence diocesan and national strategies from the bottom up rather than be “done to” from the top down, they may feel that their Church is working for, not against, them.’
“WE REALLY need to talk about bishops. The recent governance review of the Church of England got a mixed reception in the General Synod last month (News, 18 February). An amendment proposed by the Revd Sam Maginnis was carried, merely “thanking” the Governance Review Group for its work rather than “welcoming” it.”
We risk being, as with climate change, beyond the ‘tipping point’ of this new cycle of repetition, into a further age of cultural obscurity. Now, only drastic action, from the ‘bottom’ upwards, is likely to halt the cultural damage which is caused by undermining the parish. This comes at a time when we need our local communities, and the sustaining beauty of architecture and music, as much if not more than ever.
Parish resources and parish boundaries were, in origin, created locally. They were not provided by a central authority. The maintenance of parish church buildings, churchyards, and their contents has been paid for by the parish community for over a thousand years.
The Church is set upon a centralising model. Well funded urban churches, with ‘flying vicars’ sporadically serving the periphery. For some, this is seen as an economic necessity and for others, far too many others, it is an ideological mission.
“‘Presence’ and ‘memory’ are important to the identity of a locality. Surprisingly, this is the case in the highly urbanised, constantly changing social context where I worked in London’s East End. Even there it was recognised that the parish church carried something of the history; something of the story of the local area that was an essential part of its identity.”