Are self-supporting bishops on the way?

Interesting read for ACSA churches, just read Diocesan Fanance Board for “commissioners”.

By Julian Mann, CEN

It is not only net-receiving churches in parish share that are being offered a self-supporting minister by cash-strapped dioceses looking to make

Bishop Ordains 8 Non Stipendiary Priests 2007

savings on stipends when the incumbent moves on. It is now increasingly happening to net-giving parishes, in some cases paying more than £50,000 per annum.

Even though their new SSM receives no stipend, the PCCs are asked to continue to pay their full parish share as an expression of their spiritual partnership with their dioceses.

In the light of this trend, it might be worth considering the following scenario: it is AD 2025 and the Church Commissioners are facing grave financial difficulties. They are finding it very hard to find the money for stipendiary bishops and their expenses.

So, the House of Bishops, after strong representations by the Commissioners, persuades the General Synod to agree a target of 10 self-supporting diocesan bishops by 2030 and 20 suffragans.

Diocese A has a Vacancy in See. It is told that its next appointment will be an SSB. The Vacancy in See Committee, believing strongly that their diocese needs a full-time, stipendiary bishop, mobilises support. With the positive backing of its net-giving churches, the diocese raises the money to pay for its own bishop, his stipend, expenses and the upkeep of his residence and staff.

“Well done,” the diocesan representatives on the Crown Nominations Commission are told. “But you’re still going to get an SSB and as an expression of your spiritual partnership with the rest of the Church of England, you’re going to give the Commissioners the money you have raised so they can continue to pay for stipendiary bishops elsewhere.”

“But,” says Diocese A, “we consider that we need a full-time bishop for mission. Our last one was worth every penny in the spiritual direction he gave and the church growth that under God he enabled. We believe growth generates growth. If the Lord Jesus Christ continues to add to the number of people who are being saved in churches across our diocese, then we are in a position to support ministry outside our diocese. Are you suggesting that we are being selfish in wanting our own stipendiary bishop?”

“No, of course not. A bit congregationalist perhaps. The cheque is payable to the Church Commissioners by the way.”

Julian Mann is vicar of the Parish of the Ascension, Oughtibridge,
South Yorkshire – www.oughtibridgechurch.org.uk

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