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"We're listening."

by Michael Ford last modified 13 Feb, 2019 12:09 PM

DBF Chair announces Review and tells Treasurers he is listening to their concerns.

The Chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance has written to Parish Treasurers, thanking them for their hard work and setting out some of the financial challenges the Diocese faces in the coming years.

In his letter, Nigel Salisbury wrote:
“It is not such a small miracle that we continue to maintain a Christian presence in every community across the Diocese of Salisbury.

“As ever my sincere thanks for all you do. Being the parish treasurer is not always easy and I appreciate some of you may well feel isolated; overwhelmed even, as you try and respond to the financial needs of your parish and the diocese.”

He said the Bishop and he recognised “how easy it is to feel that the Diocese does not recognise the scale of the challenge or the difficulties that you face. “

“Some churches are growing, many are stable but the continued fall in 2018 of the fair share count numbers in the diocese as a whole is disappointing. We have limited the budget increase for 2019 to 2.5% which is roughly in line with inflation but with fewer people the per capita increase is pushed up to 3.94%.

“I realise from your letters to me that some share allocations for 2019 have increased by considerably more than this because clergy numbers in the benefice have changed; membership over the past 3 years has gone up or down (affecting rolling averages and weightings); or your self-assessed category has changed.”

But he said they were aware of the concerns:
“We need to address them alongside our other financial challenges and to conclude 2019 with a realistic plan for the immediate and longer term future. Please be assured that we not only recognise but are listening to your frustrations.”

The letter outlined to the Treasurers the challenges that the Diocese was facing and announced that this year the DBF was launching a Diocesan-wide Review:
“The brief is to determine what changes need to be made to ensure that future budgets can be met and that finances can be put on a sustainable footing. This includes a thorough review of all costs, and of the Renewing Hope: Pray Serve Grow strategy.

“Another team is considering what changes need to be made to the Share process to make it easier to understand and better reflect changes in our Christian communities.

“The results of the reviews will be translated into a longer term financial plan demonstrating sustainability and solvency, and into some changes to the Fairer Share System including better explanation of Share movements when the letters go out in October.”

The DBF chairman said he hoped that a after the review, a financial awareness campaign would be launched across the diocese to promote understanding in conjunction with a stewardship campaign to raise giving levels and commented:
“Although improving, our giving levels still do not compare favourably with many other dioceses so it is right that we review giving as well.

“I am optimistic that we can meet these challenges utilising the excellent skills of our team in Church House and of course with the additional insight of new leadership in a number of key positions on Bishop’s Staff.

“In conclusion I would add that Renewing Hope has at its heart a belief that we can slow and ultimately reverse the numerical decline seen in recent years in our churches, alongside a strengthening of Christian faith both individually and collectively across the diocese. We’ve seen some wonderful examples of parishes and benefices growing individually against the tide and remain optimistic that with God’s blessing we will be able to achieve this more generally across the diocese in the years ahead.”

The Chairman’s Letter can be found here

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