This is a text-only version of an article first published on Saturday, 20 July 2013. Information shown on this page may no longer be current.
Rosemary Pearce, Oxford's Diocesan Secretary, has written to the Church Times to express her concerns about a letter that appeared in the paper on 19 July 2013. The letter suggests that the Oxford Diocese is ignoring financial problems and borrowing money to pay the stipends. The text of the Diocesan Secretary's letter as submitted to the paper, is below. Sir,Your unnamed correspondent (How many other dioceses are sustainable? Letters, 19 July 2013) gives an erroneous impression of the financial situation in the Diocese of Oxford. In common with the whole of the Church of England, we are feeling the effects of the recession.
For the last four years we have been working to a planned deficit budget, to help adjust to the increasing costs of clergy pensions, NI and training the exceptionally high number of ordinands who come from this diocese. Last year's shortfall in share payment was disappointing, but thanks to strenuous efforts to make savings elsewhere in the budget, we were able to keep on track.
Our plan has always been to break even in 2013, a target we are on course to meet. We do have a bank facility for short-term borrowing, to enable us to buy and sell vicarages, but this is part of our normal financial management, not to pay stipends. As a very large diocese - 626 parishes and 815 churches spread across three counties - we benefit from economies of scale.
Recent benchmarking of our bishops, archdeacons and support services demonstrated that Oxford has some of the leanest staffing ratios in the Church of England in proportion to the numbers of clergy, parishes and the population we serve. We recognise the sacrificial giving of many in our parishes who work hard to meet their share contribution.
And far from ignoring the financial challenges, we are in regular, detailed discussions with those deaneries who are experiencing difficulties. Our diocesan synod recently approved a new share scheme that comes into operation next year.
Difficult decisions no doubt lie ahead, but we believe that this, combined with our ongoing deanery mission action planning process, will help us to plan mission and ministry provision sustainably for the future. Rosemary Pearce, Diocesan Secretary, Diocesan Church House, North Hinksey Lane, Oxford OX2 0NB