As our diocese announces an excellent 98.4% collection rate we spoke to Finance Manager Matt Elliott.
As our diocese announces an excellent 98.4% collection rate and we send certificates thanking all parishes who paid in full in 2012, we spoke to Finance Manager Matt Elliott about the challenge we face.
Matt, who chairs the group established to implement “Reversing the Payment Trend” on behalf of Synod, finds much to be grateful for whilst recognising the need to maintain momentum. “Parish Share is the fairest way we have to support the common mission and ministry across our entire diocese. It is the most significant source of income we receive and without it we would not be able to pay for local mission and ministry.
All of the Parish Share we receive is used directly towards the stipends, pensions and housing of parish priests and the training and support of priests, deacons and ordinands. We want, in a small way, to acknowledge all those parishes who have the vision and determination to contribute to God’s work in our diocese. We thank you all for your contribution”.
Yet Matt is equally realistic about those who don’t pay. “all parishes, all organisations can struggle financially. We understand that and want to help and support those in genuine financial difficulty. But it is our duty to take action against the small minority who will not fully engage with the challenge of Parish Share. The only alternative would be to increase the burden on those who faithfully pay their share in full. That would be unfair and wrong.”
The group have carried out a great deal of work to explode the myths and present the reality of what parish share is for. And Matt is extremely clear about what lies behind each percent of parish share. “essentially each percent of parish share equals £70,000 - so the 1.6% of share that we didn’t collect last year equates to 3 parish posts that we struggle to afford.”
Our diocese is in a relatively strong position nationally when it comes to parish share collection but, without the historic assets of some, our reliance on this and national church funding can make us vulnerable. This is why we have made determined efforts to keep this in all our minds. We all need to look beyond what we can do as individual parishes to how we work together for the common mission and ministry in our diocese.
As last year’s well received dvd explained, everyone contributes and everyone receives from the system. Parish Share supports all and is, and should be, supported by all. It is the only means through which we can fund a Christian presence in every community. That’s why we send the certificates to thank people for their contribution.
Money is well spent in our diocese. In our parishes, our schools, the places we connect with people, in our long established ministries and our new emerging ones. We are open about that as we have been increasingly open about who is contributing, publishing data for November’s synod.
Ultimately it is having a mature conversation. As Matt says “it may be that a particular parish finds it difficult to maintain a contribution and in some cases they might then fall behind on their Parish Share payments. But it might be equally difficult for the neighbouring parish who pays in full. We cannot allow the burden to be increased for those who continue to pay in full and on time. That would not be fair. We recognise that times are hard and everywhere faces challenges of giving and stewardship. That’s why we urge anyone in difficulty to contact us sooner rather than later. Our resources team can support with stewardship and giving campaigns. Reversing the payment trend is about supporting those who are in genuine financial difficulty, whilst challenging those who have the means to pay, but choose not to. If parishes work with us, we will work with them”.