An Odd Little View of the Church

I am left rather confused as to what Vikki Woods is on about in her strange little piece in the Telegraph. I don’t want to be too nasty, as she seems to have the Church’s interests at heart. I just don’t understand or recognis a lot of her article.

First some relevant facts:

PCCs and other such church governing bodies do sometimes meet in people’s front rooms. They’re comfy and warm, with coffee-making and sanitary facilities. This doesn’t imply any particular issue with the local church itself.

The item on the agenda after apologies that Vikki Woods refers to is normally something along the lines of “matters arising”. But if apologies is item one, that may be the source of one of her local church’s problems – I would argue it should probably be “opening prayers”.

The item “Finance” is normally a straight P+L report. Mostly L, admittedly. Raising the folding stuff to keep the roof on normally comes under “Fund raising” or occasionally, bizarrely,  “Outreach”.

And some questions and suggestions:

Vikki Woods’s village seems to have a thriving pub, a school, a village hall and the church. Villages with this many amenities normally have sufficient population to provide more than six churchgoers. Again, perhaps the vicar could institute prayers before PCC meetings?

Vikki Woods’s local clergy appears to be strangely absent – again, could this be why there are no prayers on the PC agenda?

I’m new to all this, but I reckon an 18 grand Parish Share for a church with a clergy shared with neighboring parishes is a bit on the high side. It should imply an average weekly attendance of 20 or so, even in a fairly posh parish. I will stand corrected, but it strikes me they’ve either been inflating their October count or they’ve got a full-time, yet invisible, vicar all to themselves? Or maybe the parishioners hide when VIkki pops in to Church? Or, since the Share depends to a degree on the socio-demographics of the parish, a thought strikes me – does Vikki Woods live in the grounds of Buckingham Palace? As I say, I could be wrong on this one. But if they really are paying 18 grand a year, I suggest they save money by letting the building fall down and moving into the school. It’s warm, as well.

And one final thought – it’s about ethics, of course it is. But it’s also about paying for the wages, homes and pensions of the clergy and others that work in every village across the country – even Vikki Woods’s thriving village with its oddly small congregation and invisible vicar. To do that, you’ve got to invest, or else to raise those Parish Shares – which are big enough, for sure. To do that without ever getting it marginally wrong is incredibly difficult. But that’s true for all of us. Buy from a supermarket and you’re propping up all the newspapers and television channels they’re advertising with – whether you approve of those or not. Drink milk as a diligent vegetarian, and you’re subsidising the price of meat pies. If you’ve every bought a Mars product, turns out you were sponsoring bear-baiting in Ukraine. We’re in this world and we do our best, but we’re still in it.

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8 thoughts on “An Odd Little View of the Church

  1. It strikes me as written by a confused outsider, whose other half is just being kind enough to keep the books for a church neither of them attends or understands. i’m not sure I’d take any of it as accurate.

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  2. Whilst I agree with most of what you say however 18,000 seems quite low share. Here in Winchester I know chuches paying 40,000 for half a clergy.

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  3. Our Parish share was ~10,000 for 0.2WTE vicar. It is calculated based on the average affluence level of the parish, not on either the population (~600) or the church membership (31). We were really struggling until we managed to negotiate down to 0.1WTE for our new vicar (shared with an adjoining, larger parish), who is expected to start in the autumn.

    The village has a village hall (the old 19th century CofE school), a community centre (the old 1970’s school), the church and the church room (built using the proceeds from the sale of the CofE school in the ’70’s), which simply means that we have too many public buildings for the population to support adequately. We have no school (and neither I think does Vikki Woods’ village) or shop, but we do have 2 pubs (one of which is usually closed for a makeover in the hope of reviving flagging fortunes). The PCC generally meets in our house – which is more comfrtable than the church room and saves on heating bills.

    I think that Vikki Woods’ experience does represent some rural parishes, but I can’t see the relevance to the Anglican church “five and a half billion pound portfolio” in its pension fund.

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      • In the Chester diocese the size of the congregation (or, indeed the size of the parish population) would have no influence at all on the Parish Share – so it would be perfectly possible for the calcualtion to come up with that sort of figure here. The solution then is to ask to be given a smaller fraction of a vicar (but that isn’t always possible) – unless you can manage to increase your congregation to match the Parish Share.

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