From our Team Rector, Revd Canon Dr Jeremy Worthen:
‘A family of churches centred on Jesus, serving the community and sharing our faith’. That’s our parish vision statement. It’s what we want our parish to look like, not just to us but to the people of Ashford. ‘A family of churches’. One of the things that families have to do is allocate resources, including money. What does it get spent on, who decides, and on what basis? Of course, there are many different ways to do that. How a family handles such matters says a great deal about the kind of family it is. At the PCC meeting in July, we decided to try taking a different approach from next year to financial planning as a family of churches. We want family members – our seven church communities – to take more responsibility for decisions about how their income is raised and about how it is spent, within an overall framework set by the PCC. That PCC framework will include a commitment to bringing our overall expenditure as a parish back into line with our income, and an agreed allocation of our central costs as a parish and our contribution to the diocese between the seven family members. You may feel at this point that this is nothing to do with you, because you’re not on the PCC or because you don’t get involved in finance. But part of what we’re trying to change here is the sense that church finance is other people’s responsibility. Ultimately, we’re all involved. We all help to raise income for our churches, and we all help to spend it too. The changes that are being proposed would give more control over church finance to Local Leadership Teams, within parameters agreed by the PCC. That will mean changes for how we behave as a family of church communities, changes that will, I hope, help us to be a more mature kind of family. But it’s unlikely to be entirely straightforward. There are some tough issues that we need to tackle. Please pray for your Local Leadership Team members, including finance officers, as they begin to consider what these changes could mean for their situation. Please pray for early conversations about what a fair allocation between our church communities of central parish costs and contribution to the diocese would look like. And please pray for the PCC as it makes important decisions this autumn about financial planning for the next five years and setting a budget for 2024. Pray that through it all, we would together move closer to the fulfilment of our vision.