I am a member of Diocesan Synod (part of the governance of the Diocese) and today we are debating a motion that was brought by one of the members about Parish Share (how much each Parish should pay into the Diocesan pot). Parish Share pays the clergy and the staff and training, plus some goes towards running the schools and the cathedral (I think!). Different Dioceses have different methods for calculating the Parish Share and indeed some Dioceses pay less out of Parish Share – they pay less or nothing towards the schools and have fewer Diocesan staff.
But today we are debating a motion that says if you are growing and your number of people on the electoral role goes up then it is a good thing and you shouldn’t be penalised by paying more Parish Share.
On the one hand I don’t like this motion because it makes Parish Share sound like a tax rather than a joy to pay into the common purse. But I do understand that the last part of a person to be converted is their wallet and so there is a lag between new people arriving and new people giving.
In this Diocese the Parish Share is calculated as £45k per Stipendiary Priest you have and then an additional amount for the central costs based upon electoral role and other considerations. In this Parish the extra bit is about £15k so in the scheme of things I don’t think the motion will make much difference. The Parish Share is meant to be capped at 65% of the total income of a Parish. However, it must go up by 1% per year. In this Parish our share is 91% of our income – so it is no wonder that we can’t pay it!
I do have a problem with the idea in this Diocese that you can have as many stipendiary clergy as you can pay for. This means that rich Parishes can pay for several stipendiary clergy and poor Parishes can’t really pay for even one. This feels like capitalism rather than Christianity. It doesn’t feel like all disciples holding everything in common.