I’ve been settling into my new role in the parish and musing about the various official bits and pieces of communication I have received. The Guidelines for Residents in diocesan houses makes sense, though I’m still waiting for someone to come and sort out the lack of hot water for a bath, having reported the problem a week ago. There’s the legal stuff like assigned fees and the Statement of Particulars as part of Common Tenure (see Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Regulations 2009).
However, the piece of paper that really caught my eye was the details of Parish Share for 2011 from the Diocesan Office. The sheet sets out a breakdown of how much the parish has given so far this year and the balance left to contribute and it was enclosed with a letter of welcome. On the back is a breakdown by parish of the deanery Parish Share for the last 5 years. Now I don’t have a problem with this in itself, I think that the Parish Share is important in enabling the mission and ministry of the parishes and the diocese. What I do have a problem with is the fact that this is the only published measured assessment of a parish’s contribution sent to me as I embarked on my ministry. The message it communicated to me was that this was what the diocese really cared about when it came to measuring the effectiveness of my ministry or the work of the local church. I know that is not the case but that is how it felt.
Why no figures about the number of baptisms, confirmations, regular worshippers, vocations to various licensed and authorised ministry, weddings, funerals, pastoral visits, discipleship programmes, home groups, children’s and youth ministries, missionary support, outreach activities, community engagement events and the hundred and one other things that the local church is about? Now I know what most of these figures are because they were clearly set out in the parish profile that I received during the appointment process. But these figures aren’t published or discussed in the detail or with the same scrutiny as the amount of money a church gives to the diocese. So what does that say about where our values and priorities are?
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