The PCC met on Tuesday evening of last week, commencing with Mass at 7.30pm. It was a well-attended meeting and a number of items of important business were discussed.
Joan is cautiously confident of our financial position as we pass the half-way point in the year. The accounts show a very small surplus, but if cash-flow is taken into account, our true position is that we are running very slightly in deficit against our budget for 2010. This may not sound too good, but given that we have lost over £1,000 per month in interest income – ie, about £12,000 a year – that we are able to run only slightly in deficit is a testimony to Joan’s careful management of our finances. We should all be very grateful to Joan for her work as Treasurer.
We will have to draw on capital to pay the Common Fund by about £5,000 for 2010. £5,000 may not sound much in the context of annual turnover of slightly more than £100,000 and with slightly less than £250,000 in capital, but it represents a slow annual process towards an eventual financial crisis that will come (and more quickly than might be imagined in the context of expensive capital works, see below) if our annual income cannot be increased to at least match our annual expenditure. Last year’s Planned Giving Campaign fell short by about £5,000 – including Gift Aid reclaimed from the Government – and it is by £5,000 that we are currently falling short annually. The equation is quite simple and it is to increased Planned Giving that we must look if we are to balance our books.
The Common Fund
Having requested £64,256 in Common Fund for 2010, the Diocese of London is asking for £66,106 in 2011. This represents an increase of 2.9%. They are asking also for an additional contribution of about 1.1% to assist the diocese in working its way back towards a balanced budget, taking the total amount to £66,826. Separately, we are also asked for an amount equal to 1% of the Common Fund as a Schools Levy, to finance Church of England Schools in the Willesden Area.
The payment of the Common Fund is a moral obligation rather than a tax. Therefore how much we decide to pledge is our decision, but once we have pledged a certain amount, we must pay it – just as we should always as individuals. The amount for which the diocese asks is the total amount it costs to run the Diocese of London, of which the paying the stipends and clergy is around 70%, divided by the number of parishes in the diocese. Therefore, there has to be a very good reason not to pay what is asked simply because we would otherwise not be pulling our weight on the same basis as all other parishes of the diocese, some much poorer than ourselves.
After some discussion, it was agreed to offer the £66,106 as requested, but only to pay the extra 1.1% if we find that at the end of 2011 we have a surplus of at least that amount. The Schools Levy will be considered separately.
Fabric & Buildings
As previously reported there are a number of large capital works to be considered, such as cleaning / redecorating the inside of the church and rebuilding the wall around the memorial garden which is becoming increasingly undermined by tree roots. These very necessary works would quickly use up almost all of the £250,000 we have on deposit – and it would be at that point – potentially in the next couple of years, that the annual £5,000 dip into capital to pay the Common Fund might be impossible and financial non-viability for this parish would threaten.
The church of St Mary’s celebrates its 75th Anniversary on December 6th 2011 (the parish is slightly older, having come into existence as a mission district some nine years before St Mary’s was consecrated.) People will naturally want to celebrate this anniversary, perhaps in some of the same ways as previous anniversaries (the 25th and 50th) were celebrated. This will require time and commitment and volunteers are sought from amongst the congregation to form a committee – especially a chairman – to plan events for next year. It is yet some time off, but plans need to start being made. Please speak to Fr Giles or the Churchwardens if you would like to be involved.
Fr Giles spoke briefly on the meeting of the General Synod this weekend in York. It will debate the proposed legislation for women bishops that contains no effective provision for those Anglicans who do not accept the ordination of women. It effectively abolishes the ministry of the Bishop of Fulham and the Bishops of Ebbsfleet, Richborough and Beverley in caring for Anlgo-catholic parishes such as St Mary’s. If the legislation is passed as it is, life in the CofE for Anglo-catholic people and parishes will more or less gradually wither away. However, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York have proposed amendments that might allow some of the present arrangements to be preserved. It is a brave intervention, and General Synod may throw out their amendments altogether, damaging the Archbishops’ credibility. The July Synod will also discuss allowing bishops to be divorced and remarried or married to divorcees. We should not forget that the women bishops issues is important, but only one symptom among many of how the CofE is changing – provision for Anglo-catholics that distances them from women bishops cannot also distance them from divorced and remarried bishops or bishops in civil partnerships, or other departures from Christian teaching on morals and belief that increasingly distance the CofE from the majority of Christians, especially the Catholic Church.