Whilst it may sometimes not appear so, there is an awful lot going on in the background in the Parish, particularly regarding the appointment of a new vicar.
On 27 July the PCC held a special meeting with Archdeacon David to discuss and set out the plan and timescale for the appointment process. A lot of work remains to be done but everyone, I think, left the meeting confident that we have the volunteers with the skills to find the right person.
I thought it would be useful to ‘ paint a picture’ of where we are from the treasurer’s point of view, although the poster that I put up in church recently maybe says enough.
Firstly, there is a lot of good news, not least that everyone’s aim, including the Diocese, is that a full-time vicar is the preferred option. However, it will surprise no-one that financial considerations will play their part.
The Archdeacon explained that the Diocese looks ahead over a 7 to 10 year time-frame which is the average period that a vicar stays in one Parish. They therefore have to be reasonably assured that we will be able to afford our Parish Share over that period. The alternative is that other parishes will have to subsidise our Share, or that the Diocese will have to draw on its reserves.
We start from a strong base, in that for the last four years we have steadily increased our Parish Share payments. However, it is only after receiving grants from reserves that we have met the payment ‘in full’, and we have received a further grant for 2021 of £7658. But, as they say in the adverts, past performance is not necessarily a guide to the future.
Those who attended our AGM will remember my concerns for 2021, that we were looking at a substantial shortfall of around £20000 this year, based on trends for income and expenditure in the first half of the year. The archdeacon was not surprised to learn about this as the Diocesan Finance team are aware that most parishes’ income has suffered because of the exigencies of the coronavirus pandemic, and the cautious return to more normal services and fundraising activities.
The situation is not new to us – in both 2019 and 2020 we were looking at large shortfalls at this time of the year, but by the end of those years they had been eliminated following appeals to our church community which were responded to most generously. The PCC is committed to making plans for similar appeals and events this year and the archdeacon expressed confidence that our efforts will have the desired results.
I gained the impression that, because of the unprecedented restrictions seen over the last 18 months, the Diocese will take a pragmatic view of the situation when assessing the overall picture during what is a relatively short time for the appointments process. By that I mean that they will look at the amount of effort we commit not just to ‘fundraising’ but more importantly, to the re-invigoration of all aspects of church life from which the financial fruits would inevitably follow, even if all our goals are not completely met. I would hope that we will be given credit for building the bridge over the financial hole, even if there’s a small gap at the end of it!
So, the really good news is that, as ever, the opportunity to determine our future lies in our own hands. There is no reason to wait to be asked – whatever needs to be done can be started now.