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Worshippers urged to give more

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 November 2001 | UPDATED: 15:19 03 March 2010

WORSHIPPERS are to be asked to dig deep in their pockets and come up an extra £338,000 next year to pay for the running of the church in Suffolk.

Congregations across the county will face increases - to pay for administration of the diocese and vicars' pay and pensions - at a time when their own parish running costs are rising, too.

WORSHIPPERS are to be asked to dig deep in their pockets and come up an extra £338,000 next year to pay for the running of the church in Suffolk.

Congregations across the county will face increases – to pay for administration of the diocese and vicars' pay and pensions – at a time when their own parish running costs are rising, too.

The situation has arisen partly because of the Church Commissioners' decision to abandon their help for the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich over the next few years because they say the diocese is "well off" compared to others.

Bishop of the diocese, the Rt Rev Richard Lewis says the diocese is already in good shape financially and "ahead of the game" because of tough decisions it has made in recent years.

But to find the money needed for an 8.36 per cent increase in budget will take a "tremendous effort" by all Christians in the county.

He has pledged to retain the same number of clergy, reaffirmed a commitment to outreach and mission, but says a priority will be to take a fresh look at the use and number of church buildings.

This will undoubtedly cause fears among many small rural congregations that more churches could close.

"In the face of the various current constraints and pressures, I am immensely encouraged by the people of this diocese," said Bishop Richard.

"In a world which is often dark and shadowy, the People of God in this place can and do bring light."

Parish shares, the money which each parish contributes to the diocese finances, had reduced from £4.1 million in 1996 to £3.8 million in 2000. During that time the diocese had also cleared its debts and increased its spending.

The need for parishes to find a further £338,000 next year and a two per cent increase every year from then on is because of the Church Commissioners' decision to phase out its support for clergy pay.

WEBLINK: www.stedmundsbury.anglican.org

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