It has been really encouraging to witness the number of parishes who have prayerfully committed to give generously in Parish Share to support the work and ministry of sister churches across the Diocese in 2017.
As a result of your generosity, Parish Share commitments have increased by over 250,000 this year. This is wonderful news, and shows that were collectively moving in the right direction. But there is still a long way to go to meet our shared target to resource ministry into the future. Together we need to increase our support by 1 million between 2016 and 2020. We are over quarter of the way there already, but the challenge remains for us all to take responsibility for our ministry costs, give generously to support others, and have faith that God will provide all we need to fulfill His mission across the Diocese.
Parishes have now received their Parish Share requests for 2018, and these seek to equitably share the cost of ministry and mission across the Diocese to enable us all to meet the challenge ahead of us. This year a number of improvements have been made to the approach, based on your feedback. 92 people responded to the Parish Share survey before Christmas and made some hugely constructive suggestions. These have been considered and some of the improvements made include:
- Consulting clergy about their parishes information before sending out Parish Share requests. Clergy received this information in May.
- Sending out requests and holding seminars much earlier in the year, to allow sufficient time for PCCs to pray about and discuss this information. This year a number of seminars were held in early June, and requests were sent out at the same time. Over 90 of you have participated in the Parish Share seminars over recent weeks, and two more seminars will be held in September. Places are still available use these links to register for the Bristol event and the Swindon event.
- Sharing more stories about the impact of Parish Share across the Diocese. This year the requests are accompanied by a downloadable short film for use in churches showing the impact of Parish Share, and a leaflet and poster outlining where Parish Share is spent. You can order more copies of the leaflet by contacting Clare Fussell (email@example.com or 0117 906 0100)
- Considering specific needs of multi-parish benefices and Local Ecumenical Partnerships (LEPs). Each incumbent responsible for more than one parish has been invited to indicate how their ministry is broadly split across the churches in their grouping, and this information has been used to amend the parish share request for each of the churches in the grouping. Similarly for LEPs, partnerships have been asked to provide information about the level of ministry provided, and the annual contributions made, for each denomination, and this is factored into their Parish Share request.
- Improvements to the methodology. A number of improvements to the method used to inform parishes requests have been made, including adding more incremental increases to avoid parishes being asked for big jumps in commitment, using more appropriate indicators around deprivation, and averaging the size indicators to ensure they work better for a bigger majority of parishes.
There is a dedicated team of mission-hearted clergy, parish officers, lay ministers and Diocesan staff available to come and meet with your PCC, standing committee or finance team to talk through your parishs request and discuss how your Parish can meet this challenge. There is also a range of stewardship support to enable you to grow your parishs income. Please do get in touch with Clare Fussell to start this conversation or book a visit (firstname.lastname@example.org or 0117 906 0100).
Together we can live out the teaching of the early church, where the believers had everything in common, giving to anyone who had need. (Acts 2). Together we can make the essential investment needed to secure parish ministry for now and tomorrow. And together we can pool our resources to have the biggest impact and be as effective as we can in building God's Kingdom.