On Saturday 21 October in Weston-super-Mare, diocesan synod members agreed the 2018 budget for mission, reinforcing the diocese’s commitment to resourcing for mission now and into the future.
Synod members heard an engaging presentation by Bishop Ruth, Harry Musselwhite, Chair of the Board of Finance and Revd Charlie Peer, Strategic Programme Manager in which they were urged to “seize the moment, equip God’s people and invest in growth.”
Bishop Ruth updated those gathered on the outcomes of Community Conversations and how peoples’ responses are helping shape diocesan decisions and the service the diocese provides for parishes. Charlie Peer set the proposed budget in the context of the diocesan vision, strategy and future aspirations, giving details of planned projects and initiatives in five key areas: discipleship, local mission, children and young people, vocations and ministry and pioneering.
As Chair of the Board of Finance, Harry Musselwhite deftly painted the financial picture, demonstrating how the proposed investments in those five areas are to be shared across three funding streams: diocesan reserves, national church funding and an increase to the Common Fund.
There followed discussions in groups to talk about the opportunities presented in the 2018 budget and to air and address any concerns about the proposals. After further formal debate and questions during which synod members raised the issues such as deanery funding and the impact on churches, the motion to pass budget 2018 and an increase of 4.5% to the common fund was agreed.
Acknowledging the understandable concerns of parishes about increases to the Common Fund and the financial challenge of any associated increase in parish share at the local level, Harry Musselwhite said, “We have worked hard to keep any increase to the common fund as low as possible, finding savings wherever we can. A 3% increase in line with inflation plus an additional 1.5% just for next year really is the absolute minimum increase we could propose. Anything lower would negatively impact on the diocese’s ability to support parishes in their work to love and care for their communities.”
“This is about mission and how we as God’s people want to take that mission forward. Now is the time to build on the momentum and energy generated by the new vision, seize the moment and invest in the future.”
Notifications, giving details of how Saturday’s vote might impact upon your individual parish share calculation will be sent out to parishes in the first week of November and the finance team will be on hand to talk through the details.
Nick May, Diocesan Secretary says, “We know that the news of this agreed increase to the 2018 Common Fund will be received with concern in some parishes. There will no doubt be questions asked at PCCs and from congregations about the reasons behind any year-on-year changes to parish share. We will be communicating directly with all parish treasurers at the beginning of November, providing supporting information to explain the increase. We are also offering a pack of resources, including worship resources, as a way of supporting any conversations.”