Diocesan Synod to revisit the question of Parish Share

As Diocesan Synod meet on March 24th to look at a different option for our Parish Share System, we find out more about what’s called Option 2. Over the next couple of weeks we ask what it is, how it works and why the time may now be right for it to be considered again.

It’s the question that occupies every parish, deanery and diocese. How do we fairly and justly organise a system that enables us to fund our mission and ministry? In our diocese we seek to be a bigger church making a bigger difference, we have had a major success story with our Parish Share system enabling us to achieve collection rates of over 98%. 

Having come from outside our diocese, Archdeacon Mike McGurk brings a useful perspective. “I have seen slightly different variants of this system in different places across the Church of England,” he explains “and the Diocese of Liverpool operate a good system but one that needs to change and be more flexible, if we are to continue to share the good news of Jesus. I recognise the pressure on many parishes, who regularly give sacrificially in order to maintain ministry and this is one of the reasons I truly believe we need to transition to a model that will ensure we can afford ministry in future years.”  

Mike recognises that the concept of what’s fair can vary depending on where you sit, but he is impressed by the efforts made in Liverpool to hold onto some core principles. There is the strong theological underpinning in how we look at the stewardship of our resources. This is about our response to God’s generous grace and the fact that all gifts flow from the creator God. It is about maintaining our presence in every community in our diocese. It is about our ability to pay for what we feel God is calling us to do.

“As Archdeacon I want to see all types of lay and ordained ministry funded and flourishing and want decisions about ministry to be made, where possible, at a local level. I am a big supporter of how the diocese supports local deanery decision-making and want that to continue. I believe that Parish Share Option 2 is the best way for us to commit to a flexible, local decision-making process and see the successful work already begun in Transforming Wigan with the use of the Option 2 model”. 

Parish Share Option 2 was debated in 2014 when Synod decided the time was not right. However, Mike, like many others, believes that this is the right time for synod to re-look at this matter. “I have been concerned about the lack of our ability to vary numbers of stipendiary clergy locally” he explains “it feels we have a restriction of the number of clergy deployed and the parishes they serve and yet we still want to ensure that we all support mission or discern what God is asking of us.”    

Mike embraces the creativity that Option 2 allows and says that “by linking deployment with an ability to pay, alongside the church commissioner’s contribution towards more deprived areas of the diocese, we can respond better to local situations and that is for everyone’s benefit.

The new process will allow deaneries to decide what parishes contribute but then it will be down to St James House staff to administer. Deaneries can mix and match clergy roles with authorised lay roles; part time with full time, giving greater flexibility and this will give the local church the ability to be free to develop what works for their area. The system will be deanery led with as little as possible intervention from outside.

Archdeacon Mike said “flexibility is key and that’s why I support this system. It will not be easy convincing everyone, but in the long run, it will be worth it and will ensure that we can be who we are called to be in each local area. Ultimately it will be down to synod to debate and decide but I believe that the time is right for us to take a fresh look at a new, fair system for collecting Parish Share”.   
About Parish Share Option 2
Option 2 aims to give deaneries the flexibility to determine how many stipendiary clergy they want
to deploy and how much each parish/team/hub in the deanery would contribute towards the cost.
This proposed new system would continue to allow for mutual support; the contribution required
for each stipendiary incumbent in a deanery will reflect the level of deprivation in that deanery
which will be calculated afresh from IMD data at deanery level.
Please note: for convenience, we have continued to use the word ‘parish’ to describe the local unit
of mission. We recognise that the churches in our diocese are now organised in multiple forms –
single benefice parishes, teams, groups, hubs. For ease of reference we have used parish to stand
for all of these.
Because option 2 is new and unfamiliar it will require quite a bit of explanation. It is based on 2
broad costs:
(i) Housing, training & mission development (HTM) – this broadly covers the cost of:
  • The theological training costs of ordinands
  • The stipendiary and other costs of curates
  • Housing clergy
  • Discretionary posts deployed by the bishop
  • The support and development of key lay ministries (local missional leaders, readers)
  • Contributions to the national church
  • Deanery Mission & Growth funds
(ii) Deanery deployed leaders (DDL) – the vast majority of this cost is and no doubt will
remain the deployment costs (stipend/national insurance/pension) of incumbent status clergy.
However, we have deliberately moved the language away from clergy so as not to constrain
the discussions at deanery level. For example, Wigan has already used what would have been
stipends for other forms of missional leadership.
The Parish Share requirement of each component is calculated in different ways:
(i) HTM is calculated using the current Parish Share method – calculated for parish level, based
on average weekly attendance and socio-economic factor (SEF)
(ii) DDL is calculated using the method brought to Synod in September 2014, a deanery system
based on each the number of clergy deployed, the SEF of the deanery and each parish within
the deanery offering its own contribution.
This combination of calculation methods allows deaneries to have the flexibility to determine how
many stipendiary clergy and other missional leaders they wish to deploy and where they want to
deploy them, whilst enabling parishes to contribute according to their ability to pay.
In reality, therefore, each deanery is given 4 pieces of information:
1 The indicative amount for each parish for the HTM element (which will be roughly 40% of
what they are paying under the current Parish Share system)

2 The total cost to the deanery of the DDL element for the stipends they currently have

3 The cost per incumbent for any additional incumbent the deanery may want to deploy – in
2018 this would be a flat rate cost of c. £43,000 (see Appendix 2)

4The cost saving per incumbent for any reduction in the deanery clergy allocation – this saving
will vary from c. £25,000 in Liverpool North to £46,000 in Sefton North (Sefton North is carrying the greater proportion per incumbent of the HTM element so receives a proportionately greater benefit of any saving

News & Events

Read the Synod Paper

You can read the paper which discusses Parish Share Option 2 here

Parish Share Option 2