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Carlisle diocese urges churches to 'sell' vision to beat funding crisis

The Church is facing an unexpected cash shortfall of £160,000 this year which looks set to hit £460,000 in 2013.

The Rev Keith Teasdale photo
The Rev Keith Teasdale

Cumbria’s Carlisle Diocese has admitted that some posts will go in response to the funding crisis which had “arisen rapidly”.

But it has now made some radical proposals in a bid to slash the deficit and save jobs, which could include extending the length of vacancies before clergy are appointed.

The diocese has also urged its parish churches countywide to do more to “sell” their vision to visitors.

The rallying cry on the diocesan website likens the church to “an anvil which has worn out many hammers”, insisting that it would “come through this stronger and better”.

The statement said: “We accept that all parishes work hard, and know that those who come to church give sacrificially.

“But we believe that a bit more could be done to ‘sell’ our vision to those who come to church, and if they understand what we hope to do, will be prepared to increase their giving to the Church.”

At present nearly 80 per cent of the diocesan income comes from its 11 deaneries across the country, with each church asked to pay what it can towards the cost of clergy, their homes and their training.

The diocese has an annual turnover of around £8m which has to pay for 130 clergy and it now has more vicars per thousand parishioners than any other diocese in the country.

It also has under its care hundreds of historic buildings, 113 of which are Grade I or Grade II listed.

However, two main factors have been blamed for the shortfall: a greater than expected number of clergy taking up posts; and hard-pressed parishes not paying “all they promised to the diocese”.

The spokesman said they were “concerned” and were working to bring the situation under control. He said: “The problem was detected quickly, and we have begun consulting widely on possible solutions.

“One way in which we intend to cut costs is to extend the length of vacancies before clergy are appointed. We have never done this before and are very uneasy about doing so now.”

Canon Bryan Rowe, rector of St Michael’s in Workington and the rural dean of the Solway, said: “Every parish is struggling. But if everyone on the church electoral roll [everyone who says they are a member of the church] increased their giving by the price of a pint of milk then the difficulty wouldn’t be there.

He added: “It’s a problem and there is no organisation that can function with that sort of loss every year

“We are going to have to cut our cloth accordingly. It may be that we don’t have to take on as many curates.”

Other options could include priests and vicars taking on more than one parish, and delaying the appointment of priests to avoid the payment of a stipend.

Rev Keith Teasdale, vicar of St Cuthbert’s and of St Aidan’s in Carlisle, said: “The diocese has been on the ball about it and is addressing the situation through meetings with the clergy and lay people including treasurers and church wardens.

“We have had a stewardship drive at St Cuthbert’s where we informed church members that they had to increase their giving for the collection plate.

“That goes towards paying the parish share and that’s why we give to the Diocese. We give £52,000 [to the diocese] before we pay a bill and that is funded through the generosity of church members.”

Have your say

Perhaps it is time for the C of E to decide whether they are theists or christians. It is not possible to apply Old Testament values and teachings to anything other than Old Testament times. The Old Testament is almost entirely irrelevant whereas the teachings of Jesus can be applied universally.

Would Jesus have denied people rights because of their gender or sexuality for instance?

The C of E needs to move with the times and concentrate on the teachings of christ rather than the Old Testament nonsense that keeps it's bigoted older members happy.

Posted by nick on 6 August 2012 at 13:24

Perhaps if the Church of England began addressing some of the real issues affecting people today - rather than tearing itself apart in an irrelevant, homophobic navel gazing exercise - then maybe it could re-engage with some of it's increasingly disinterested flock.

Posted by Evil McBad on 4 August 2012 at 10:43

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