Update on the financial implications on Covid for our diocese

David Greensmith and Mike Eastwood write again to thank parishes for their response to the financial challenges we face.

Last week David Greensmith and I wrote to you setting out the financial positon our diocese finds ourselves in as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

We painted what we felt was the clearest picture possible of the financial reality and the work we are doing to mitigate the crisis. It was tough writing it and acknowledging our situation and we are sure you would have found it tough to read. But our diocese has always been up front about the facts and challenges we face and so we felt it important to be plain.

We have been so grateful for your response. In the toughest of times we have been reminded afresh of the extraordinary generosity, faithfulness and commitment of God’s people in this Diocese. And we are working together not just to get through the next couple of months but to emerge from this crisis in the best possible way to be a viable Christian presence into the future.

What we have also found is that this is when the mutual support of the Parish Share system has come to the fore. So while some parishes are finding very little room for financial manoeuvre others have been able to offer Parish Share payments in advance – with some paying their Parish Share up front for the next 3 months and others even paying their 2020 Parish Share in full now. We are extremely thankful for their generosity; this greatly eases the cash flow challenge we talked about when we wrote last week.

They come from each archdeaconry, from every church tradition and across the socio-economic spectrum. We have written to these parishes individually but wanted to acknowledge their contribution here.

Our diocesan understanding that Parish Share is our way to support and maintain a Christian presence in every community is important to us. It is founded on generosity and sacrifice, with parishes able to give and receive generously. It is important at the best of times as a recognition that we have some of the most deprived parishes in the country. It is even more important now. We thank you for recognising that.

We recognise that not everyone is in a strong financial position. Some have been in direct contact to say that they are struggling to pay now, or will do so in the near future. Please do continue to be in touch to give us as much warning as you can about actual or potential difficulties. We encourage all parishes, and especially those who are in financial difficulties, to work to strengthen their finances because Parish Share pays for our clergy.

We have produced plenty of guidance to help maintain giving at this time and will continue to look for ways to support parishes. You can access the guidance here We are still going to have a bespoke approach to supporting parishes in need and you can find the details in the letter we sent last week.

As we said last week we remain both humbled and encouraged by the on-going commitment to Parish Share in our diocese. We remain an example to the whole church in terms of mutual support, generosity and sacrifice. We firmly believe that this commitment to each other in the mission of God will be the bedrock of our sustainability and future hope. And, as last week, we offer the following prayer for courage from the Lutheran church:

Lord God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

With thanks and best wishes,
Mike Eastwood, Diocesan Secretary
David Greensmith, Chair of the Board of Finance

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