We know it costs money to provide mission and ministry across the Diocese. But how is the budget set – and why does giving matter so much? We explore some of the challenges in a series in the Door, the diocesan newspaper.

February 2017 

By Rosemary Pearcepie-chartrevisedbyJohn
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EVERY year the central diocesan budget is shaped to deliver the strategic objectives of the diocese as agreed by the Bishop’s Council and Diocesan Synod.

During 2017 Bishop Steven is visiting each deanery and is holding a series of consultations to consider our future direction. (See page 7 for more on Bishop Steven’s deanery visits.)This will affect the budget priorities for the future. Meanwhile the budget for 2017 focuses on funding ordained ministry and the work of the Archdeaconry Mission Action Plans.

Over 70 per cent of central expenditure is spent on clergy stipends, pensions and housing. To help raise stipends a two per cent increase has been agreed. From 2017 we also need to provide a further 0.5 per cent of the stipends bill for the Apprenticeship Levy costs.

We have increased the Vocations team so that we can meet the national target of doubling the number of people being trained for ministry by 50 per cent by 2020. Working with others they will be exploring the development of lay vocations, ministry and discipleship. We are also reviewing how we provide Continuing Ministerial Development (CMD) for clergy following the retirement of Canon Angela Tilby.

The Diocese continues to support important work in the wider community undertaken by the fostering and adoption charity Parents and Children Together (PACT), the Council for the Deaf and the Oxford Diocesan Board of Education. Synod agreed to fund a half-time chaplain to work at Oxford Brookes University. Over 18,000 students currently study there with no Anglican chaplaincy. A small grant has been given to take forward the key recommendations of our Rural Strategy Group and there has been a small increase in the Partners in World Mission budget as we develop our work with the Diocese of Nandyal in Southern India.

The demands in relation to safeguarding continue to increase. National requirements mean we will need to provide initial and refresher training for all our clergy as well as tailored training for church wardens and other parish representatives. This will be a major project over the next few years.

Another key priority is supporting ministry in areas of new housing. There will be 80,000 new homes built in the larger areas of new development in the Diocese by 2031. There will also be many more in smaller developments.

We are continuing to use income from major glebe sales to buy houses in strategic positions for the development of ministry. The income from glebe investments makes an important contribution, subsidising the diocesan budget by around £3.77m or 15 per cent.

We are very grateful to those who give generously to help their churches pay their parish share. This helps us to deliver high-quality, cost-effective services. No inflationary increase has been made for staff costs apart from repairs to parsonage houses. This,with the glebe income and share payment by direct debit, has allowed us to hold down the average parish share increase to 1.75 per cent.

For a full breakdown of the diocesan budgets click here.

Rosemary Pearce is the Diocesan Secretary.

‘A wealth of generosity’

by the Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft

PEOPLE often ask me what the differences are between the Diocese of Oxford and the Diocese of Sheffield (where I was bishop for more than seven years). One of them is Christian giving.

The Diocese of Sheffield serves one of the poorest regions of the country. In the league table of income per head of population by diocese it comes third from the bottom. But Sheffield is the most generous diocese in the country in terms of giving. For many years the Church of England has commended that we give five per cent of our income to and through the Church (leaving plenty of space to give to charities and other good causes). The average giving in the Diocese of Sheffield is now over 4.5 per cent.

I am grateful to those faithful congregation members who donate to their churches, week after week, month after month and year after year. However, we still have some way to go in Oxford to match the level of generous giving that takes place in Sheffield. I hope and pray we will try over the coming years.

St Paul does not shrink from reminding the Christians in Corinth about the generosity of other churches. He writes in 2 Corinthians 8:
“We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”

Paul goes on to write that the main reason we give to God and to others is because of God’s generous gifts to us:

“For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich”.
God has given so much to us. In this matter of giving then, Paul urges us, let’s turn our good intentions into a generous and joyful and disciplined reality. God’s work in this Diocese is in need of resources as we seek to support and extend all that we are doing in the coming years.

Please take some time at the beginning of the year to give thanks to God for all you have been given. Please take some time to review your giving in the light of all that God has given to you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift in Jesus Christ.

The Rt Revd Dr Steven Croft is the Bishop of Oxford.