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Clergy Resources

19 June 1972

Dear parishioners,
At the time that magazine is being published, the Diocesan Synod will be having a two day meeting in Lincoln. A great deal of the time during that weekend will be spent in planning the policy of the diocese in face of a strident challenge which it and the whole Church of England faces during the next few years. This challenge is over the question of resources and the demands upon them.
The challenge has been there for a very long time, but it is the pressure of inflation during the last decade and in the immediate future, which is forcing the Church throughout the country to examine what it is doing, so that our resources can be used to the best advantage.
The total income of the Church of England in 1970 was £55 million pounds, an increase of 10% in two years. Yet, despite this increase in income and expenditure, the Church was not doing as much as it had been in 1968 with its resources of money, simply because the 10% rise in income did not match the decline in the value of each £. It is calculated that by 1975 with an anticipated rate of inflation of 5% per year, the Church’s income must rise to £77 million, if we are to stand still in the things which the Church is doing.
Of the Church’s income in 1970 (£55million), £24m was derived from the Church Commissioners mainly for the payment of the 15,700 clergy of the church, while the laity provided 31.4m pounds. By 1975, the Church Commissioners expect to provide £31.6m which would leave the laity of the Church to find £45.4m. This would mean that the average giving by the members of the Church would have to increase by SOp in every £1 given to the Church now. And this is just for the Church to stand stilfl
The second part of the problem is to do with the clergy. When I was ordained in 1959 there were nearly 700 new deacons in the Church that year, and this rate was exceeded for the next few years. Last year the number had fallen to 393 new deacons and the numbers at theological college now, shows that this will certainly continue to fall at least to 1974 when the expected figure will be as low as 310.

[page three]

Of the 13,122 clergy serving the parishes of the Church at the beginning of 1971, over 5,000 were over the age of 55, of whom 1,000 were already over the new retirement age of 65 years. So by 1975 the number of clergy available for full-time service in the parishes of the country will have fallen from 13,000 to 11,000 with a similar decrease between 1975-80.
The third part of the situation which challenges the Church at the moment can best be seen from the angle of our diocese of Lincoln. At the moment there are 345 clergy and parish workers in our diocese. This means that there is one clergyman or lay-worker to every 2342 people. Over the country as a whole the ratio is much higher at 1:3350. A quick look at the diocesan handbook shows that there are over a third of our diocesan clergy who have less than 1000 people in their care, but in the towns of the county this can rise as high as 1:8000 as it is in Barton at the moment.
In Lincolnshire we have almost the gross luxury of a church for every 1000 people - 730 churches and 800,000 people. By comparison the Diocese of Chelmsford has fewer churches, but more than three times as many people.
It’s not difficult to see that the challenge is by no means just for more and more money. We need to weigh up very carefully indeed whether we are spending the money and using the clergy in the best way. Some things are clear from the outset - that where there are five clergy now, there will only be four in 1975. This diocese has more than its fair share of the clergy that are available. The number of our churches is far greater in Lincolnshire than we can justify.
The present inflation hits us all, but for the Church it may bring a blessing, if it forces us, especially in this diocese, to face up squarely to a situation which has existed for many years. Till now we have been able to hide from the facts by an occasional and spontaneous adjustment here and there, now and then. This method will no longer suffice with the facts before us. We now have to face such questions as ‘How are we best to use the 200 clergy available in this diocese in 1980?’ - ‘Which 200 or even 300 churches are to be closed during the next ten years?’
The Diocesan Synod needs to make bold recommendations, and we need to be willing to accept the challenge as well.
[Darrel Speedy - continues at tcibcurate197207000304]


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