Church budget gets support

CHURCH representatives gave their overwhelming support for its 2003 diocesan budget, and a new system of parish contributions which depends on some making an extra voluntary contribution.

CHURCH representatives gave their overwhelming support for its 2003 diocesan budget, and a new system of parish contributions which depends on some making an extra voluntary contribution.

A St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Church of England Diocesan Synod held in Woodbridge on Saturday agreed to an 8.2 per cent across the board increase in parish payments.

Although some expressed concerns about the increase, the budget gained overwhelming support, with 92 voting for the proposal, three against and eight abstentions.

The church coffers would be boosted by a "strong support weak" system of contributions in which certain parishes and deaneries agree to pay more than the capped amount in order to make up a shortfall, members heard.


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The capped system, with financial gifts from wealthier parishes, was described as "underlining the Christian belief in the strong supporting the weak".

The forecast budget for 2003 is £6.3 million, an increase of 13.3pc on 2002. The diocese faces increases in clergy pensions and salaries, and hopes to appoint a new full time youth officer and a new resources officer. It also hopes to continue developing a locally based clergy training programme.

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Meanwhile, its income has reduced by 14.3pc, mainly because of the ending of central church support for clergy pensions and the start of a phased withdrawal of support for clergy salaries by the Church Commissioners.

Michael Wilde, chairman of the diocesan board of finance, said the revision of the parish allocation system was "an exciting opportunity".

"The sharing fairly principles have been a resounding success and we going to build on those, and I know they have been a resounding success, because I have checked the figures," he said.

The Right Reverend Richard Lewis, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said: "It's not just about money. It's to do with the vision we have about the church of which we are a part."

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