Vicar's Bit February 2020

‘How is the church funded…?’ [part one] The Parish Share Rector’s bit Revd John L-H

When Jesus talks about ‘Life in all its fullness’ he is teaching about the life of God, which overflows with generosity, exceeds expectations, is more than imagined, abundant. It is the abundance of God’s life within us as a Church and as individuals that flows out, giving life to those around us. When it comes to thinking about stewardship, giving and finance, we do so as Christians from this place of generosity, recognising that the heart of the gospel is God’s gift to us in Jesus Christ and that all we have is God’s: ‘All things come from you, and of your own do we give you.’ (1 Chronicles 29:14)

Our church is the diocese of Gloucester, we are the diocese of Gloucester, from the Cotswolds in the east, through Cheltenham and Gloucester to the beautiful Forest of Dean in the west, living and working altogether, we share the good news of Jesus Christ.

Last Sunday nearly 15,000 Christians worshipped in nearly 400 churches across the diocese. 30,000 children were taught in our 116 schools. And that’s not to mention the food banks, the chaplaincies, and youth groups which otherwise would not exist. We can be really proud about this.

Our seven parishes are an important part of this wider picture, enabling us to be present in every community in Gloucestershire, not just in bricks and mortar but more importantly in real people.

Some of these key people include 200 clergy of which 140 are paid are paid for centrally whilst there are others who are not paid. There are also many lay leaders including around 160 Readers. 

As well as leading the churches they are there for people at different points in their lives; marrying people, baptising them and comforting families through funerals. But how do we pay for such a huge operation?

Well we believe that we are all equal before God, all part of God’s kingdom. As such we can support each other as equals. This is fundamental to the Church of England and a biblical principal to resource the Gospel of Jesus Christ to everyone and not just to those who can pay to hear it (Romans 15. 1-2, 24-29, 1 Corinthians 12. 12-31 and 2 Corinthians 8. 1-15).

Because we all support each other in love we are fundamentally stronger together. This was one of the things which helped the early church to grow despite incredible opposition, and today enables clergy to serve in communities which really need them. 

Our financial support for each other is not only very biblical, it acts in a practical way too. Lets look at a few of the facts. Parishes raise over £16 million to maintain ministry in the diocese. £6 million of this is handed over to the Diocesan Board of Finance as “Parish Share”. When a church contributes to parish share it is giving to a common purse to be shared out by Synod as fairly as possible.

Parish Share is vital to our mission supporting lay leaders, clergy and various groups. It covers the each vicar’s pay, their pension, their housing, specialist support training, and even the training for the next vicar who we haven’t yet met but I’m sure they are probably very nice. 

The Diocesan Board of Finance also pays for other parts of the church such as schools, chaplaincies, workshops, street pastors, housing developments and some goes towards the national church and on the running of the central services that enable us to function as a diocese. [Safeguarding, finance, buildings, property, communications, ministry, governance, legal, education]. Fortunately the Board of Finance raises money separately for this from things such as investments, property and donations. Which means that everything raised by parishes can go to parish ministry.

Parish Share is one of the things that binds us together as a parish community. Together our giving allows us to be present in every community, from areas of urban deprivation to suburban towns, idyllic villages and forest hamlets, providing ministry and resourcing our mission throughout. 

So that is how diocesan finances work. It is a way we express being one body by doing more together than we could ever do alone. We are each a little broken and a little brilliant and when we work together fantastic things can happen. It’s your continual generosity that makes all of this possible, so thank you for all that you give to God’s work in the diocese. Together we are the Diocese of Gloucester.


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