God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46 vs 1 & 2(NIV)).
The Lords is King and He Reigns.
As you should be aware the Diocese was called together last week and addressed about its financial situation. We have the ability and the responsibility to prayerfully respond to our situation and look past our human frailty and seek God, His truth, His hope and His calling on our lives.
The Leadership explained that our Stipends (Salary bill) need to be paid out of “member contributions, grants and donations,” which are made to the parishes. The Diocese is funded by the Parishes and this is collected from the Parishes as an “Assessment.” The Assessment is the money paid by Parishes (which is where the members are) into the Central Fund which is augmented by Investment income. The Central Fund pays the Priests Stipends, the Diocesan Administrative costs, contributes towards the Provincial Administrative costs and Provincial Funds. Therefore, the Assessments must raise enough money to pay the Stipends. As simple as that. As I am sure is obvious, not all parishes have the ability to cover the costs of the Stipend for their priest – but this has to be an objective. Every Parish should be striving to pay their priest’s stipends and the running cost of the parish.
Here at home we have already taken a step to address this issue by installing a “Team Rector.” Our Assessment was changed in 2017 to be in line with what the Churches could afford while still paying our Clergy Costs in full. In other words, we were not being subsidized by other parishes and were not contributing to any other parishes but were cross subsidizing ourselves. As an incentive to move forward the Bishop wrote off a portion of the outstanding Assessment owed (By St Mary’s) because we were keeping up to date with the current payments. Had we not run into trouble with the tenant at 81 Fyn Rd, all would have been well. But without that rental and with the services still having to be paid, we at Good Shepherd are not able to cover our Assessment at present. In Other words, my stipend is not being paid in full by the two parishes, and the Diocese covers the shortfall out of the Central Fund, the same fund that is not receiving enough funding to cover the Diocesan Salary bill.
Therefore, we need to be bold and strive to remain committed to the Mission as our primary objective.
We exist to be the Church in the Community and the Community in the Church – to know Jesus and Make Him known. We need to be more proactive, more focused and more dedicated to our mission. The Church is the means to the end not the end in itself. We should be so focused on our mission for God – “God Reconciling the World to Himself through Jesus Christ,” that all the other things become insignificant and our passion lie in the living out of God’s love.
I am positive that we are going to come out of this stronger. We have two dynamic Parishes which are on a growth curve and can handle the challenges set before us. I ask you to remain prayerful and positive. God will show us the way.
May God in His infinite wisdom guide us across this Jordan into the promised Land.