At November’s Diocesan Synod we said thank you to David Greensmith who has been chair of the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) for the last 11 years. David has expertly steered our Finance Committee through the challenges of the last years helping the team at St James House bring stability to diocesan finances. His distinguished track record in business and industry has brought focus, challenge and drive to the finance committee.
Bishop Paul paid tribute to David saying: “To have worked alongside David as our Finance Chair has been an immense comfort and strength for me as bishop. A cool financial head, together with a warm commitment to the purposes of the Diocese, have marked his time in this role. Strong finances enable us to make good and sustainable decisions for the future mission and ministry of the Church, and the oversight of our financial strategy is a crucial stewardship task.
“David’s experience and leadership style has consistently supported us and challenged us to improve. He leaves us in a good position, especially considering the financial climate that the Church and the whole country have endured. As he steps forward into the next chapter of his life and ministry, my thanks and prayers go with David for all he has offered to our Diocese over so many years.”
Meanwhile we spoke to David about how he feels at this time. He told us that “Chairing the DBF for the last 11 years has been a privilege and a pleasure. The privilege has been to work alongside such a talented team at SJH led by Mike Eastwood and the pleasure has been to see the Diocese of Liverpool develop in line with the strategic direction that has been set.”
The role of Chair is a Bishop’s appointment and it was the then Dean Justin Welby who argued that David could be a valuable part of our team and following conversations with Mike Eastwood, David was invited by Bishop James to take on the role. David told us: “Having had busy roles in business up until that time it was important to me to engage in community roles to try and make a difference”.
David is clear about the challenges we have faced at characteristically modest about his own role. He states: “Steering and balancing a central budget process and its full implementation each year has been a key challenge. Some 70% of the Diocese's income derives from Parish Share and whilst Liverpool is a relatively "poor" diocese compared to others I have been humbled by the spirit of giving in our parishes, no more so than through the current pandemic crisis. None of Liverpool’s achievements in the last years has been mine, rather the whole Diocesan team's.”
Yet the achievements have been great. During David’s time we have had a 100% success rate with the Church Commissioners seeing 4 out of 4 SDF bids approved. We have set up a Multi Academy Trust for our academy schools and more recently developed a diocesan wide housing strategy for the period 2021 to 2025.
David says “these would be amongst the highlights. But Perhaps the most important and groundbreaking work, yet to be finally approved, is our bid "Fit for Mission 2", which has had initial approval and will be reviewed for final sign off in the first quarter of 2022.”
But David is also clear about the challenges that lie ahead: “the Diocese of Liverpool is no different to all the other dioceses in England: congregations are falling, upkeep of properties is becoming increasingly difficult and finances are tight. To arrest these macro trends it is critical that we develop innovative and creative strategies that address the issues on a diocesan wide basis. Fit for Mission 2 is just such a strategy. The whole Diocese needs to understand, contribute ideas and get behind the new Fit for Mission plan and implement it with pride and vigour.”
Yet David leaves us in an upbeat mood. “I am very confident about Liverpool’s future. We have the people, the ideas, and the tenacity to drive forward and grow the Church. We will need perseverance and teamwork but the people of Liverpool have never been short on these qualities.
The DBF is very fortunate to have as my successor a highly experienced and much respected new Chair in Maggie Swinson. She is well known in Liverpool and has worked tirelessly in many roles locally and nationally.
“I will be happy to support her into the future, as required, and am confident she will be ideally placed to help drive the Diocese forward over the coming years.”
David has been an outstanding DBF Chair. We will miss him, his wisdom, his commitment and his encouragement. We will also miss his enormous warmth of personality. But we, like he, remain confident of our future – in no small part because of the work that he has done. Thank you, David.