Will Winchester cut £1m of ministry?

The cross in the entrance of Old Alresford PlaceI feel as someone who lives and ‘ministers’ in the Diocese of Winchester that I need to make some record that, thanks to the Church Times blog (subscribers only I think) I am now aware what form of response my Diocese is making to the fact that it couldn’t meet its budget.

I’m not particularly well informed about this as I’m not on any relevant committee, but I knew we were more than a £1m in the red, and was aware from a collegue in training that there were significant reductions to facilities at our Diocesan centre at Old Alresford Place. From somewhere, and I really can’t remember where, I believe that the cuts came about because the Deaneries were permitted not to meet their parish share this year if they couldn’t afford to, or something like that.

The Church Times Blog reads:

The Diocese of Winchester is proposing huge budget cuts for 2010, which would include cutting their university chaplains, Diocesan newspaper, Comms Officer, Canon Missioner, a Schools Advisor, the number of clergy, and much more besides.

The cuts, which are to be voted on on 28 November, amount to a total £1million saving from an original budget presented in May.

There has been a strong reaction from students at the University of Southampton to the news that they could be losing their chaplain [details include a website petition, facebook group, and protest at Winchester Cathedral]…

Cribbing from the rest of the CT article:

Full details of the cuts can found… posted online here by Winchester Deanery with an explanatory note of the report here by their Deanery Chair of Finance Committee.

The proposed cuts are variously listed but include (and this is I admit a rather personal list reflecting my own training and interests)

  • The Communications Officer and the Diocesan Newsletter ‘The Vine’
  • The chaplains threatened include the chaplain to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (currently an excellent chap who I had the privilege of learning from during Reader Training)
  • All residential courses at Old Alresford Place (presumably that means my CMD on ‘storytelling’ booked for spring 2010 is about to vanish) where the staff have already been made redundant (which confirms the story of a collegue training the year behind me who discovered at her last residential that Ministry Dept staff had to try and work the heating, and do the catering for the w/e)
  • Mission grants to parishes (presumably these support bright ideas in ordinary parishes who want to extend the Kingdom of God!)

Some people I know may lose their jobs, others I know have to make the decisions that will cut those jobs and ministries they have encouraged and facilitated. And, all because it would appear from what I know that Deaneries were quite fairly asked to only contribute to the Diocese what they could afford (I hope someone will correct me if I’m wrong).

I can’t help wondering, if perhaps those of us ordinary folk in pews who contribute to the active ministry of the church, with and without formal training, without financial remuneration, may become just a little more valuable (in a non-financial sense) in the months and years to come, even though we must take our share of the results of budget cuts and try and understand the necessity for them along with everyone else.

I shall be praying for what I assume is our Diocesan Synod meeting on Saturday.

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About ramtopsrac

Church of England Priest, child of God, daughter of the New Forest, wife and mother.
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3 Responses to Will Winchester cut £1m of ministry?

  1. Em says:

    It’s a really difficult time with budgets and many costs spiralling – such as heating with income being so much lower – returns form investments being very low and parishioners generally worse off.

    Our church has been really struggling with its parish share. We live in an area that has a large percentage of other faiths plus Bolton does not really class as an affluent area. Our church was asked to give £270 000 as its parish share – that’s way above what we receive from the diocese and reflects the dire poverty of many other churches with their falling congregations and listed building that they must maintain.

    What to do? If I have got my numbers right then it equates to about £400 per person at church including kids.

    What about the money that we are trying to spend on youth ministry, a hope centre in a really deprived estate, mission including the winter watch program for homeless people in Bolton and mission abroad, debt counselling again fro the deprived members of Bolton.

  2. ramtopsrac says:

    I know Em, it’s tough isn’t it. One of the many good things this Diocese does is support parishes in less affluent areas of the country. There is some sort of twinning relationship with Newcastle Diocese and I believe there is some financial support in that. We’re finding that it’s becoming harder to meet our mission commitments as a parish, so I wasn’t exactly surprised at the Diocese having to make some tough decisions.

    Your share is massive – I thought ours was big (I think it’s about £200k but don’t have the files to hand to check because of the builders), but your outreach stuff sounds really exciting, especially the idea of a hope centre.

    People think Winchester/Hampshire is an affluent region, but we’re not immune to economics and I knew we didn’t have lots of reserves. However this is born out via a statement today from the Diocese (which I can’t find on our Diocesan website but the Church Times seem to have got, so I’m copying it below.)

    From the Diocese of Winchester via Church Times Blog

    ‘The strong reaction by Southampton University Students to the possible loss of their much appreciated Chaplain, the Rev Simon Stevens, is heart-warming but may be misplaced. It is certainly ‘jumping the gun’.

    Various blog references have been made to the Winchester Diocesan budget but this has not yet been through the all-important Synod discussion and approval or rejection stage. What emerges from that, on Saturday 28th November, will be made public after what is expected to be vigorous debate.

    From this it will be appreciated that comments expressed in blogs or points being protested about to date are currently based only on one local Deanery’s synopsis of what might be necessary to balance the Diocesan budget.

    Diocesan Secretary, Andrew Robinson, says: “Those who are protesting should be assured that a budget of this kind is so critically important that to second-guess what might happen is not helpful although we understand the real concern being expressed.

    “Indeed, Southampton University students’ readiness to demonstrate on behalf of their popular and effective Chaplain highlights just how very important this area of the Church of England’s mission is to students and young people. “

    Bishop Michael Scott-Joynt says, “Many Christians and other “not-for-profit” organisations are feeling the effects of the present financial situation, not least on people’s ability to give generously to fund them.

    “So the Diocese of Winchester, dependent on the generous giving of parishioners and with very little historic income, is determined to produce a realistic, balanced budget for 2010 which will enable us to sustain our vision and our mission which we deliver primarily through our parishes across much of Hampshire, east Dorset and the Channel Islands”.

    The present financial situation may be a cause for concern at one level but, viewed positively, it is also an opportunity to review every area of our Diocesan mission. To achieve that demands a process of prayerful consultation and our Bishops and officers are committed to achieving that in a way which will be fully supported by the diocese as a whole.’

  3. Pingback: Responding with commitment – those Winchester cuts! « A Reader in Writing

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