‘A family of churches centred on Jesus, serving the community and sharing our faith’. Back in August, I reflected in my message on how we relate that parish vision to the way that we deal with our finances. Every family has to make decisions about how to spend its income, and whether things can be done to increase it. As a family of churches, we’re no different.
I wrote then that at our July PCC meeting, a clear decision was taken to move towards a new model of financial planning as a parish. There would be three key parameters for that. Each of them represents something we’ve not done before!
First, the PCC would set goals for closing the current gap between income and expenditure, year by year, until we’ve eliminated it.
Second, every church community would be expected to contribute the same proportion of its unrestricted income to our shared costs (i.e. shared ‘support services’ within the parish plus our payment of clergy costs, including training, and contribution to shared diocesan support).
Third, Local Leadership Teams would take responsibility for preparing a budget for their church community with appropriate independence, within the agreed framework of those first two parameters.
Predictably, in retrospect, agreeing all this was rather simpler than working out what this would actually mean in practice! I shudder to think how many times Shirley Leslie, our wonderful Parish Treasurer, has had to re-work the figures because of some new piece of information or request for variation. But at our PCC meeting this month, we were able to agree a budget for 2024 that reflects the decisions of each member church within the family about how they plan to handle their finances, as well as common commitments for the parish family as a whole.
Still, all that work will be to little avail unless it actually helps us both to plan our spending and to raise the income we need to meet our commitments. I do hope that every church community will have an opportunity not just to hear about their budget for 2024 and ask questions about it, but also to pray together for the resources to be given so that we can do those things that God calls us to be doing, in the service of Christ the King.
The Revd Dr Jeremy Worthen