Sunday, 20 June 2004

turkeys vote for Christmas?

You may recall that the General Synod recently considered a report named A Measure for Measures which found general favour with the synod, and also another one Future Use of the Church Commissioners’ funds which was not at all well received. The former recommended setting up a revised Dioceses Commission with powers to propose changes in diocesan boundaries and to require each suffragan bishop vacancy to be reviewed before any new appointment is made. The latter proposed transfer of most funding for bishops from the Church Commissioners to the dioceses.

This week two papers reported that the House of Bishops was actually talking about doing something in response to all that. Extracts from both are below.

The Telegraph reported that Bishops may lose jobs to cut costs

The Church of England is scrutinising the role of bishops and other senior posts in a review which could result in swingeing cuts.
Senior figures are concerned that the hierarchy is top-heavy and some believe that as many as 35 top jobs should be shed, shaving millions of pounds off the Church’s annual budget.
Particularly vulnerable could be the Church’s 69 suffragan, or assistant, bishops, whose numbers have more than doubled in the past 100 years. The review is being undertaken by a top-level working group established at a private meeting of the House of Bishops in Liverpool last week.

A Church spokesman confirmed the existence of a bishops’ working group but said that there were currently “no plans” to axe any posts. One senior figure said: “The subject has to be tackled as a matter of urgency but obviously it will not be easy to bring about as there are so many vested interests.”
While bishops are unlikely to be sacked, their posts could be left unfilled when they retire or they could find their jobs merged with those of other senior clergy or shared with neighbouring dioceses.
Critics of the hierarchy point out that in 1900 there were 57 bishops (31 diocesan and 26 suffragan) and about 24,000 clergy.
While the bishops now number 110 (44 diocesan and 66 suffragan), there are only 9,000 full-time parish clergy, supplemented by 9,000 other clergy and licensed lay people.
The average annual cost of supporting a bishop’s ministry is now £160,000, taking the total annual bill to about £18 million.
The Church is already preparing to sell some of its ancient bishops’ palaces and houses, which include Auckland Castle in Durham and Rose Castle in Cumbria, as part of a cost-cutting review.

and the CEN had Plans for drastic cut in number of bishops

The number of bishops in the Church of England could be drastically reduced under plans to restructure its hierarchy.
At a meeting of the House of Bishops in Liverpool last week, a paper was discussed that proposed a mechanism for reorganising the areas of responsibility in dioceses across the country.
The paper, called Suffragan Bishops, follows on from the Diocesan Pastoral Measure, and is set to be discussed at regional level, as the Church looks at ways of saving money. There are now 113 diocesan and suffragan bishops, costing the Church Commissioners £13.8 million last year in covering stipends, pension contributions and staff salaries.
Up to a quarter of bishoprics could be cut, and the diocese of London has already held top-level talks to consider which area could do without a bishop.
The bishops are said to be split on the plans, but the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, is confident that the size of the House of Bishops will be contracted. “I think we will do it,” he said. “I would want to see a reduction. The system is crying out for change. Financial problems are driving this, but it would be very good to have clearer roles.”
Bishop Broadbent said that the role of archdeacons and bishops could overlap, and that a better structured Church would be more effective in mission: “We don’t want to proliferate roles. There are very few people in the pew who actually see what we do and form misconceptions.”

(I think he means that the many people who do not actually see what bishops do are the ones who form misconceptions.)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 June 2004 at 9:27 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England