Comments: Bishops' working costs for 2012

Any commercial or indeed any other large organisation would quickly trim down its management structure if it were like that of the Church of England.

We are grossly over managed and have far too many bishops, all of whom of course, including the flying ones, are frightfully busy by extension of Parkinson's law. There are frequent reductions in the number of clergy everywhere including infamously in the Diocese of Southwark but never any reductions in the number of bishops.

At a cost of £20 million pounds p.a. the only people who are rejoicing are the clerical outfitters!

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Monday, 7 October 2013 at 9:18pm BST

"At a cost of £20 million pounds p.a. the only people who are rejoicing are the clerical outfitters!" Concerned Anglican

Don't forget the lawyers!

An extraordinary £2.7m has been spent in the last two years on (according to Note 9) "Charges for work connected with clergy discipline cases". That's not far off the figure for the basic stipends of all the diocesan bishops put together!

In context, the figures for 2010 and 2009 were 'only' £533k and £292k respectively.

It would be helpful if the report gave *some* indication of where and upon what this mountain of money has been spent - or perhaps its writers rely on the fact that hardly anyone bothers to read this sort of thing in detail.

Posted by Laurence Cunnington at Tuesday, 8 October 2013 at 11:34am BST

From behind her/his nom de plume, CA grumbled about C of E "management structure".

I don't think we have such a beastie. What we have is a structure for engaging in mission and ministry at both parish and diocesan level. Be assured/relieved that I spend a pretty small amount of my time on the management of an organisation. I spend a lot of time preaching, teaching, affirming, learning, worshipping, encouraging, suggesting, researching...

To equate episcopacy with management is a pretty basic ecclesiological error.

Posted by David Walker at Tuesday, 8 October 2013 at 5:45pm BST

With respect, I suggest the Church of England is actually under-managed. Modern management thinking suggests a "span of control" of between 6 and 8. Typically in Southwark a deanery has some 15 incumbents, who "report to" an Area Dean - but the Area Dean has his/her own parish to run also! So each Archdeacon has to manage some 50 clergy, with intermittent help from the Area Bishop. Under this system, any 1 individual priest is provided with wholly inadequate supervision, encouragement and, yes, management. No commercial organisation would leave it's people to sink or swim in such cavalier fashion.

Posted by Jamie Wood at Tuesday, 8 October 2013 at 9:32pm BST

Make as many as possible bishops, like the Anglican Church of North America, and resolve the problem at a stroke!

Posted by Observer at Tuesday, 8 October 2013 at 11:27pm BST

"To equate episcopacy with management is a pretty basic ecclesiological error." - David Walker -

I agree with Bishop David, that his indeed is the mission remit for Bishops in the Church. However, sadly, management of business would seem to be the more frequent pre-occupation of many of them.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 8 October 2013 at 11:28pm BST

I realise I'm getting a little off-topic here, but just an observation on the point made about "wholly inadequate supervision..."

I'm not an incumbent at present, but have been in authorised ministry as a Church Army Officer, and, presently, Assistant Curate. Right from the beginning of my CA training, we were encouraged to find and develop our own support networks in addition to those provided through 'structures'. Which is what I have done. I have a spiritual director, whom I meet with regularly. I have contact with friends from Church Army days. I network with colleagues from theological college, as we go through the experience of curacy together. I have the support of curate colleagues in my Diocese. When I do become an incumbent for the first time, I anticipate looking for a 'work consultant,' as well as maintaining existing support that is already in place.

What I'm saying, I guess, is that we clergy are adults, and if we're not getting the support we need, then it shouldn't be a case of being left to 'sink or swim' - we actually need to take responsibility for what we need - and if it's not provided through official structures, then to find it ourselves.

Posted by Chris Routledge at Wednesday, 9 October 2013 at 12:06pm BST

With a decreasing flock.. maybe the numbers of bishops should be halved and dioceses amalgamated as in the Church of Ireland.

Posted by robert ian williams at Wednesday, 9 October 2013 at 12:35pm BST

Too many or too few bishops? Too much or little management? The debate goes on.

If we agree that (a) clergy don't have a meaningful enough relationship with bishops because there are too few of them per parish, and (b) some management and admin is unnecessarily duplicated in 43 dioceses, surely the answer is to have more layers in the cake? Have suffragan bishops at, say, current archdeaconry level (mitred archdeacons?) and bump admin and back room functions up to an expanded number of provinces, or even nationally.

I know it wouldn't happen because it threatens to hollow out dioceses of their power. To change that would be too much to stomach, even if in a world of improved transport and communication it makes decreasing sense for 43 dioceses to exist as worlds unto themselves.

That is the kind of radical idea that might have come out of the Yorkshire re-organisation, but didn't.

Posted by Samuel Denyer at Wednesday, 9 October 2013 at 4:26pm BST

These costs need to be pulled back. Declining congregations obviously don't mean lower costs. Congregations need to be told

Posted by Joseph Golightly at Wednesday, 9 October 2013 at 6:37pm BST

Two years ago when I was on a fact-finding trip to England, the thing that astonished me was not how many bishops there are, but how many people were on diocesan staff. The Diocese of Chelmsford appeared to have dozens of people working in its Synod Office. Ditto for Peterborough Diocese. Here in Edmonton we have I think eight, of whom five or six are full time. One of my previous dioceses, the Arctic, which is geographically the largest in the world, had three.

I also note that in most of the Anglican world, episcopal expenses are paid out of the diocesan budget, and so must be approved by either a diocesan executive council or a diocesan synod (depending on how often the latter meets - some dioceses in Canada only have them every second or third year).

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Wednesday, 9 October 2013 at 8:17pm BST

Chris Routledge:

"What I'm saying, I guess, is that we clergy are adults, and if we're not getting the support we need, then it shouldn't be a case of being left to 'sink or swim' - we actually need to take responsibility for what we need - and if it's not provided through official structures, then to find it ourselves."

Surely that *is* leaving you to sink or swim? If you do all that, you're swimming....

Posted by primroseleague at Thursday, 10 October 2013 at 10:04am BST

Yes there is nothing new about this discussion or the emphatic tone of some opinions voiced. But if anyone claims to know what numbers of bishops, clergy, diocesan staff, budgets are actually appropriate in an organisation living by faith and not by sight and seeking to manage its life through a critical stage in its ministry and mission I tend not to believe them. My own work takes me into quite a few dioceses at different levels of ministry and planning. I don't know any that are complacent about money or staffing levels or idealistic about what is appropriate. Discerning the appropriate response is another matter of course.

Posted by David Runcorn at Friday, 11 October 2013 at 2:45pm BST

Twenty million pounds - how. many parish priests would that pay for? If each stipendiary priest costs £60,000 annually doesn't that work out at 333 extra parish priests? Perhaps it is now time for other areas to follow the example of Leeds and consider amalgamation to save costs. Truro could return to Exeter, Portsmouth to Winchester and Newcastle to Durham.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 11 October 2013 at 6:01pm BST

Not sure how you get £60k per stipendiary priest David. I thought it was £22k stipend and £10k for housing? (Although that doesn't take into account National Insurance and pension.)

Posted by Tristan at Saturday, 12 October 2013 at 3:51pm BST

Try these examples...

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Saturday, 12 October 2013 at 5:42pm BST

Tristan, your estimate of the cost of a vicar is approximately half of my £60,000 estimate. That would double the number of stipendiary priests £20,000,0000 would pay for from 333 to 666 - how devilish is that?

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 13 October 2013 at 7:45am BST
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