On Tuesday 15th November four of us from St Sampson’s joined a Save the Parish event at The Houses of Parliament. Not quite a Trelawny uprising, but we did our bit! One hundred parishioners and clergy from around the country and MPs and Lords were in attendance. The speakers did a great job outlining the problems parishes are facing, the finances behind the scenes, and just how parliament can help change the tide.
We heard Canon Angela Tilby talk of the importance of parish work and knowing your community, which deeply resonated with us. She talked of the pressure put on clergy by the ever-increasing size of benefices. Her words which resonated with me most were about growth following from ‘frontline presence’. The importance of knowing and being known in your community is being lost with the introduction of mega parishes. The memories in the building and place are in danger of vanishing.
We then heard from Admiral Sir James Burnell-Nugent with a financial explanation of where Church of England funds come from, where they are spent and how they could be allocated differently if there is a will to do so. All with plenty of time for questions. He talked of the very large sums of money given to specific churches for considerable transformation (which he said hasn’t succeeded), leaving the smaller, particularly rural parishes, very much unsupported.
It was reassuring to be amongst others who have similar concerns about parishes being undervalued, feeling abandoned, and deeply concerned over the allocation of funding and the reduction of priests.
There are a lot of changes proposed with the On The Way plan, some think the ideas are good, others are concerned, particularly with the merging of parishes into mega parishes and the reduction of clergy numbers. It is important that we are all fully informed and know how to make our voices heard either for or against aspects of the plan. Each deanery has their own plan You can find ours here: OtW E Wivelshire Deanery Plan .
It was approved by the deanery synod, but many voted against it, including St Sampson’s, South Hill and St Mellor’s, Linkinhorne. There is much in the plan that we do not recognise as being a problem here. One of the biggest changes proposed is to join Callington cluster with Calstock benefice a total of 12 parishes with one vicar!
There will be opportunity to oppose this and I will let you know how and when.
The structure of the Church of England is legally part of government and law. General Synod puts its measures forward to the House of Commons and the House of Lords to consider the merits of proposals. Parliament can have a say in what the Church of England does, therefore Save The Parish is urging everyone to write to their MP firstname.lastname@example.org and encourage them to attend a parliamentary briefing on April 25th 2023 Here is a link to a template that you can use Contact your MP – Save the Parish The more MPs that attend the briefing, the more likely success will be achieved in Parliament.
From Judith Ayers