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Support Fund Meeting for 2017

Each year since 2011, an annual Support Fund meeting has agreed the amount that each deanery is to pay into, or receive from, the Support Fund in the following year. It is through generous giving to the Support Fund that our ministry and mission are able to continue in the poorer areas of the diocese. On Saturday 11th June in Budbrooke, two representatives from each deanery (apart from one deanery which only had one representative) gathered for the meeting to share their news, concerns and aspirations, and to agree the payments for 2017.

Diocesan officers and both archdeacons were there to support the process and listen, as were two representatives from the parishes of Warwick and Budbrooke which are beneficiaries of the King Henry VIII Endowed Trust, Warwick - however, they had no vote.  Any decision was to be taken by the Deanery Representatives alone. A curate and two Deanery treasurers also came to listen and support.

After an excellent breakfast in the Church Centre at St Michael’s Budbroke, all went across to the church for Morning Prayer, led by the Rev'd David Brown, vicar of St Michael’s.  The Old Testament reading was from Jeremiah 9, verses 23 and 24: “Thus says the Lord: Do not let the wise boast in their wisdom, do not let the mighty boast in their might, do not let the wealthy boast in their wealth; but let those who boast boast in this, that they understand and know me, that I am the Lord; I act with steadfast love, justice and righteousness in the earth, for in these things I delight, says the Lord." The New Testament reading was from Acts 4 about the early church believers sharing their possessions.

Then it was back to the Church Centre.  As in previous years, the Deanery Representatives spent most of the rest of the morning listening to each other's presentations. We listened to (and looked at!) thumbnail sketches of each Deanery, lots of encouraging and exciting activities and developments, concerns and difficulties too, and hopes for clergy deployment in the next few years. Several deaneries made enthusiastic references to the posts for 20s and 30s development workers created by the new Acceler8 project. Some referred to large housing developments. Concerns included dependence on elderly congregations, the demands of church buildings and over-stretched clergy. For deaneries with the poorest areas, where it can be a hard place to live, we heard about the joys and challenges of ministry in these areas of huge diversity and deprivation and a lack of professional skills.

Having listened to one another, the focus changed to 'supporting one another'.  Each deanery started by suggesting next year's payment to, or from, the Support Fund.  Any payments were expressed in terms of 'posts'.  A 'post' is the annual cost of providing a benefice with a stipendiary priest, a vicarage, and also training their current and future parish ministers (both lay and ordained).  In 2016, one post amounts to £55,765.

When all the opening bids were added up, the Support Fund had a shortfall of 0.89 posts.  It was encouraging that this was a lower initial shortfall than last year. There followed a time of discussion, mutual challenge and prayer, and an opportunity for people to amend their suggested payments.  Eventually, with the representatives for nine out of the eleven Deaneries generously offering to change their bids, they had eliminated the shortfall. For the sixth year running, the revised list of payments (shown below) received unanimous approval from the Deanery Representatives.

Picking up on a recurring theme and relating it to strategic thinking in progress, the Archdeacon Missioner took soundings on whether those present thought that a boost to ‘nuts and bolts’ lay training was an essential next step in the Diocesan strategy for the health and growth of churches. Overwhelmingly positive support was given.

What next? The Deanery Representatives will be reporting back to their respective deaneries on the outcome of the meeting, and each Deanery Synod is invited to ratify their own Support Fund payment.  In the event that a Deanery Synod is unhappy about their payment, they have until 30th September to lodge an appeal with Bishop’s Council.  Please pray for the Deanery Representatives and the Deanery Synod meetings during this ratification process.

Graham Wright, Chair of the Support Fund Meeting, 21st June 2016


This is the agreed list of payments for ratification by each Deanery Synod:

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