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Synod meets to discuss finances, clergy stipends and lay roles

First published on: 21st March 2024

Diocesan Synod met on 9th March to consider progress with focal leaders, recruitment to lay roles and the diocese’s financial performance in 2023.

Opening worship was led by the Ven David Sharples, Archdeacon of Rochdale, in recognition of the fact that this was his last Synod meeting before retiring at the end of March. Synod members expressed their warm appreciation for his long and faithful service to the diocese, with over forty years in ordained ministry and fourteen years as an Archdeacon. Bishop Matthew then led with an opening presidential address based on the parable of the sower.

DBF financial results 

The meeting opened with an update on the Diocesan Board of Finance’s financial results for 2023. The overall deficit was £511k, which was mainly due to the shortfall in the payment of Parish Share. Carolyn McGloughlin, Parish Support Officer, reported that the decline in Parish Share had been reversed in 2023, with an increase of £94k as compared with 2022. However, this had still been £459k below budget. Parishes were thanked for their efforts to pay Parish Share and encouraged to prioritise payment in the coming year. As our film about Parish Share shows, Parish Share is the main source of funding for stipendiary posts and Parish Share will need to increase if we are to maintain the current level of 175 stipendiary posts in our diocese. The Discussion and Agreement process with parishes is now underway which we expect to complete during 2024.

Clergy Stipends

With regard to the 2024 budget, the DBF Chair, Canon Phillip Blinkhorn advised Synod of the decision to increase clergy stipends by 8% to take effect from April 2024, up from the 6% originally proposed at October Synod. This has been made possible because of a reduction in the contribution rate for the Church of England Funded Pensions Scheme and exceeds the recommended increase of 7% from Archbishops’ Council to ensure that our stipends are in line with those of other dioceses.

Focal Ministry

Kim Morgan-Jones, Head of Lay Development, and Beverley Angier, Focal Ministry Officer, provided an update on progress with rolling out focal ministry across the diocese. A film explaining the role of focal ministry was shown and discussions were held in deanery groups about next steps to enable us to achieve our goal of having 300 focal leaders in place by the end of the year.

Lay officers

Synod was advised of new information that is now available on our website to encourage people to stand as lay officers in our parishes, including a film with personal testimonies from a wide range of roles.

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