Winchester cut the budget – but the buck stops where?

The tower of the Guildhall Winchester - pictured at our MakePovertyHistory rally 4th June 06!An update from my previous story about the need for Winchester Diocese to cut £1million from its budget because parishes couldn’t increase their giving because of the recession.

The Church Times Blog posted to say the cuts had been passed, with lots of links relating to the popular chaplain at Southampton University – his thoughts, plus what he said at the meeting itself are here: darksidechaplaincy

Dad, who lives in BBC Solent region (I don’t) says that there was extensive coverage on local news including what he thought was a good interview with Right Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, as well as pre-canned material from the University. There is a short piece of BBC web-news here: Diocese Budget puts jobs at risk. Neither of these links say what Bishop Michael apparently said on the BBC news interview which was (and I’ve got this second-hand I know) that there was still room for manoeuvre over specific posts to be cut. The only thing posted by Diocese is what I think is his opening address to the meeting: Address to Synod 28Nov09

Church Times also made a link to the comments of a youth-worker in another diocese on how this might affect other diocese decision making: funky doo

I don’t feel yet like I’m in ‘full possession of the facts’, and I’m therefore fairly cautious of coming to any firm conclusion yet about what I think – my thoughts often conflict with themselves in situations like this anyway, which doesn’t make for a healthy sleep pattern! But here are a couple of thoughts:

  • the fact that the diocese are having to make incredibly tough decisions like this is reflected in the parishes that fund it, who are probably having to make similar sorts of tough decision themselves – but there could be some health bringing in this if you are prayerful and careful about what gets cut. Do we ask the question: what can the Kingdom of God can live without? The sort of things I’m thinking about are things like room hire costs? Does it matter to the Kingdom where you meet, if it’s costing you money? Could the Diocese have had Synod meet somewhere cheaper than the Guildhall Winchester – perhaps a large church hall that could do with the income to fund their parish contribution to the diocese? And, if you agree, by extrapolation what does that ask of parishes?
  • do ordinary folk in a parish pew know what the dreaded “parish share” contributes to, especially if they don’t attend the equally dreaded “annual parochial meeting” – our vicar last year made a point (if I remember correctly) to explain what sort of things our parish share contributes to, but I suspect that less than one third of our regular congregations were there to here him say it. People who might feel that certain areas of ministry are important, and want to contribute accordingly, might be more willing to contribute to the leadership and funding of their church if they knew what was needed. There may be two follow up thoughts here: (a) people need to understand why it is important to attend annual parish meetings – they won’t necessarily know what’s happening or planned if they don’t, even if that means sacrificing for one night a year, another activity; (b) in our media crazy world, communication is poor – but that doesn’t mean we should stop trying, therefore we should communicate important things by as many means as possible, and read or listen clearly and with open minds to what is ‘said’ to us.
  • if we don’t contribute (in time and money) as much as we can afford to the Kingdom of God (and that should in large part surely be the church you belong to, otherwise why belong to it) we can not complain if those who administer the budgets we fund, are forced to cut some of the activities we support! I was deeply impressed by my placement parish when their PCC were the first to review their giving during a Giving in Grace campaign THIS year, and honestly tell their parish how much (in % terms) they could increase it by (I think it was averaged over the number of members of PCC). Again by extrapolation, perhaps Synod members could publicly commit to increasing their own individual giving by the amount they want each parish to increase their parish share by, and so on down the line? It’s called integrity and it needs to be visible, even if anonymised from the individual.

I think that’s it for now, and I’m not sure where it gets us, but it might just be food for thought. In the mean time please pray for our Bishop (who’s about to become a one man band, as his suffragans have both been promoted), our Synodical structure, those affected by yesterday’s decisions but most of all, for ourselves, and the decisions we make. Because that’s where the buck stops!



  1. Do the parishes in the diocese know about what the parish share goes towards?


    The last week I have become aware of just what is going on here in Southampton Uni as I have seen students actually come to faith as a result of this decision as they have tried to find a way of supporting me, many have turned for the first time to prayer.

    I have to say I would willingly travel to any deanery or parish in the diocese to tell the story of what God is doing here, and to enable them to actually see directly what they are being asked to financially support.

    My students stood outside the synod on Saturday to encourage members present to read their petition (no one did) and they heard the same thing over and over from members:

    “Why don’t the University fund this.”

    my question is

    “What does the Church do about it if they don’t.”

    The answer seems to be withdrawal.


  2. Yellow’s response is an important one, and one that reflects the tragedy that one of the other posts being cut is in the communication department (and another, our lead Diocesan Missioner, but don’t even get me on that one…).
    Our local clergy gathering was making just this point earlier in the Autumn – we often know more about what’s going on in Burma and Uganda than in our own diocese.
    Speaking from one of the richer (and sadly not as generous as it could be) parishes, it’s tragic that we’re facing Chaplaincy redundancies when God’s doing so much amongst young people. Meanwhile, our churches are so desparately in need of the challenge of growing younger.


  3. […] Last Sunday every congregation in the Diocese of Winchester should have had read to them in full, the Pastoral Letter issued by Right Revd’s Michael Scott-Joynt (Bishop of Winchester – pictured) and Trevor Willmott (outgoing Bishop of Basingstoke). It followed up the previous weeks Diocesan Synod meeting that made £1million+ cuts to the budget, by cutting a range of clergy and lay posts which I’ve posted about previously here and here. […]


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