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C of E streamlines central governance as church giving drops post pandemic

by Heather Preston

The Church of England is to undergo a major reshuffle of its central governance as it adapts to a "significant decline" in church giving, according to a member of General Synod.

An official review group chaired by the Bishop of Leeds has proposed the powers of the House of Bishops be scaled back and the activities currently overseen by the Church Commissioners and the Archbishops' Council be merged into a singular body known as Church of England National Services.

General Synod member Rev Jonathan Alderton Ford told Premier the move comes in response to a ten per cent drop in church giving following the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's best to see reorganisation in terms of a long-term development of our infrastructure as we adapt to a changing situation.

"It's been made more pertinent in recent years as over Covid 19 giving to the Church of England has declined significantly.

"This is meaning that we just haven't got the resources (in cash-in-hand terms) to maintain the same level of support that we had before."

Rev Ford explains that the merging of these two Church of England departments will help to boost efficiency and prevent the duplication of work across multiple departments.  

"In some cases we have three, four or even five departments all doing overlapping work. We need to get people doing one job and doing it well."

Critics have raised concerns that the move will lead to Bishops becoming more like managers than spiritual leaders.

Rev Ford admits that there needs to be a healthy connection between Diocesan Bishops and their parishes to ensure they understand their needs but argues that this understanding has to extend to its accounts just as much as its people.

Central funding from the Church of England is granted to dioceses based on their social or missional needs which can put a greater pressure on parishes to be economically viable. Rev Ford explains that the Church is increasing the number of people being ordained on a part time or voluntary basis and releasing more laity into ministry roles in a bid to help support parishes in a sustainable way.


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