DIOCESAN SYNOD, June 2017
Bishop Christopher spoke about the importance of Trinity Sunday, touching on recent terrorist attacks and the tragedy in Grenfell Tower, as well as talking about Thy Kingdom Come.
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EMERGING BUDGET PRESSURES 2018
Diocesan Secretary the Rev Wendy Kennedy gave synod members an idea of what factors will affect our diocesan budget for 2018.
She said there had been a high rate of collection of parish share in 2016 of 98.15%, and that donation income is increasing despite the fact that there are fewer people in our pews. But we are still in the bottom quartile for giving per head nationally.
The budget pressures included a national inflation forecast of 3% for 2017, a reduction in clergy vacancies, and an increase in stipends in 2018 of 2%. There is still a shortfall of clergy being trained compared to the C of E’s requirements, but the number entering training in 2017 has significantly increases and our diocese is increasing the number of curates we are training. Of course, more clergy means less rental income from tenants in vicarages.
The preliminary forecast for 2018 was therefore an increase of 3% in overall parish share. It was noted that parish share currently makes up 68% of our annual income, and clergy costs make up 71% of our expenditure.
A question was asked about how this related to the £8bn in Church Commissioners’ investments, which was recently announced. Those investments generate income for dioceses, and also help to support bishops’ costs, cathedrals and clergy pensions.
ANNUAL REPORT 2016
The Diocesan Board of Finance’s annual report for 2016 was accepted. Diocesan Secretary the Rev Wendy Kennedy mentioned that the diocese had underspent against budget and income in 2016, and that extra funding was therefore committed to be returned to parishes in the form of expenditure on an clergy housing, on grants for parish based mission projects, and for stipends for extra curates.
The financial report also included a £2.1m asset transfer from Portsmouth Diocesan Educational Trust to Portsmouth Diocesan Board of Finance, as the two bodies were being merged. To read the financial reports and reports from organisations that report to the Portsmouth DBF click here
Canon Will Hughes, acting chairman of the Joint Diocesan Board of Education, introduced a discussion about education across both Portsmouth and Winchester dioceses. Our education team supports 156 church schools, which include 32,000 pupils and 2,000 staff across the two dioceses.
He asked synod members what makes a good church school and suggested the answer went beyond the usual issues of RE, collective worship and ethos. Spirituality should not be a separate entity, but be integrated into every aspect of school life.
Will examined the make-up of our current education team, and the tasks that they currently have to do to support church schools, academies, free schools and education projects across both dioceses. Clearly, this burden had become larger because schools were becoming academies and were looking for academic support from their diocese rather than their education authority. Will also shared details of the staffing numbers suggested by a recent review of the education staff. Some of those extra posts are now being recruited.
Diocesan Synod members were given the chance to consider how schools, diocese and parishes could help children and others to live, pray and serve, as part of our diocesan strategy.
Canon Bob White previewed the July series of sessions of General Synod. Among other things, members will look at clergy wellbeing, schools admissions, mission and evangelism, and sexuality. The latter includes private members’ motions on conversion therapy and welcoming transgender people.