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Support Fund Meeting for 2018

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. Without generous giving to the Support Fund, we would be unable to continue our ministry and mission across the whole of the diocese. On Saturday 10th June in Budbrooke, two representatives from each deanery gathered for the meeting to share their news, concerns and aspirations, and to agree the Support Fund payments for 2018.

Diocesan officers and the Archdeacon Missioner were there to support the process and listen, as was a representative 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. Three Deanery guests also came to listen and support.

After excellent hospitality (breakfast!) provided in the Church Centre at St Michael’s Budbroke, all went across to the church for Morning Prayer, led by the Revd David Brown, vicar of St Michael’s. The Old Testament reading was from Job 6: “Anyone who withholds kindness from a friend forsakes the fear of the Almighty.” The New Testament reading was from Romans 3: “For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.”

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. Also, reference was made to the popularity of Messy Church which has increasingly attracted new people to churches. Some referred to the huge growth in new homes being built across the diocese providing opportunity for mission.

However, the representatives also spoke of some difficult local challenges and significant drops in attendance affecting giving. Other concerns included dependence on elderly congregations, the demands of church buildings and over-stretched clergy. Interregnums too presented challenges, but were also seen as opportunities. 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 current and future parish ministers (both lay and ordained). In 2017, one post amounts to £56,434.

When all the opening bids were added up, the Support Fund had a shortfall of 2.85 posts. There followed a time of prayer and discussion, and an opportunity for the representatives to amend their suggested payments in the light of what they had heard. Eventually, after two further rounds of bidding and supported by an increase in the central diocesan subsidy, the meeting eliminated the shortfall. For the seventh year running, the revised list of payments (shown below) received unanimous approval from the Deanery representatives.

Prior to the final vote, the Archdeacon Missioner spoke about the huge effects he saw across the diocese from clergy and PCC’s to see their churches grow in both urban and rural settings. He reassured deanery representatives that the generous giving of parishes was not ‘wasted’ but put to work in all the churches he visited.

What next? The Deanery Representatives will be reporting back to their respective deaneries on the outcome of the meeting, and each Deanery Synod is asked 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.

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

*Warwick and Leamington Deanery showing separately in the parishes of Warwick and Budbrooke.