Synod does its sums and spotlights schools
Watch the video of Diocesan Synod November 2012
In his Presidential Address, based on Galatians 5, Bishop Tim noted many significant changes that had happened – locally, nationally and internationally – since Synod had last met; and posed the question, “Are we, each one of us, willing to be subjects? To be told what to do?”
He said he hoped and prayed that in their discussions, delegates would listen carefully to each other and try to reach beyond their prejudices in order to engage fully with the important issues to be discussed.
Referring to the subject of money, Bishop Tim thanked the diocesan financial team for “their careful stewardship, sheer hard work and wise counsel”, set as it is against a backdrop of the wider and deeper financial crises around the world. He challenged delegates to face up to the moral and ethical dilemmas that Christians faced over the use and abuse of money.
He spoke too of the rapid pace of change facing everyone involved in education and how there are “enormous opportunities if we are willing to take some big risks”.
Referring back to the passage from Galatians, Bishop Tim said that, whatever the subject, it was important to recognise the “God is in charge and we are not”. St Paul encourages his readers to recognise that they need to follow Christ rather than their own wishes and desires.
“It strikes me that in all the areas in which we have any control, power or investment – be it money, time or whatever – how brave are we and how willing are we to follow Christ?” he said. “Let us be disciples of Jesus Christ, take our faith seriously and aim to be as generous to one another, and as clear with ourselves as we can be. For we are striving to be subject to his just and gentle rule and not just wanting to have our own way.”
In his presentation setting out The Budget for 2013, Board of Finance chairman, Roger Caudwell, said “We are budgeting to raise income of £5.95m, which is £120,000 less that in 2012; and we are budgeting to spend £5.84m, which is £160,000 less than in 2012.”
He took delegates through the major elements of income and expenditure for 2013. Of every £10 of income, only £5.50 is now covered by Mission & Ministry Fund contributions from the parishes, the remainder coming in almost equal measure from the Church Commissioners (who are particularly generous to the Diocese of Truro), the Diocesan Pastoral Account and from investment income based on the generosity of past generations.
Turning to expenditure, Roger pointed out that clergy stipends, National Insurance and pension contributions accounted for £5.20 of every £10 spent, added to which was a further £2.10 spent on maintaining parsonages and Board property (including Council Tax, water charges and insurance) and £0.65 pence sent to the Archbishop’s Council towards clergy training.
Roger concluded by emphasising that the Budget is a document made up of many strands, all focused on serving the parishes by adding value and enabling the implementation of Bishop Tim’s strategy of encouraging discipleship, the development of ministry teams and embracing change.
Synod approved the 2013 budget.
The Dean of Truro, Roger Bush, who also chairs the Diocesan Board of Education, introduced the debate on the allocation of appropriate resources to support not only its statutory and supervisory roles in its 44 Church Schools, but also the additional funding and personnel needed to underpin its wider role in the development of Academies and collaborative outreach initiatives into ‘community schools’.
In a joint presentation, the Diocesan Director of Education, Sue Green, head teacher, Jenny Thomas, and Diocesan Board of Education colleagues, John Kidman and Revd Simon Cade, outlined the breadth and depth of the educational scene across Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly in general and in Church Schools in particular. They made clear the need to encourage and train skilled school governors, and to help small rural schools which “may not have prepared well” to face the financial pressures encountered today by encouraging them to share resources and form ‘confederations’.
The speakers pointed to the many successes already achieved – the establishment of Academies at one end of the financial scale and the continuing strides being made by the simple ‘Open the Book’ scheme at the other. And the social responsibility needs being met by the provision of support, such as breakfasts for hungry children from families who are struggling at a time of austerity.
But perhaps the greatest opportunities for fostering the Christian ethos lie beyond the precincts of our Church Schools, and in the “formal and enduring” relationships being built as head teachers from ‘community schools’ invite the Diocese to be part of the rapidly developing Co-operative Trust Schools. “This is unfamiliar territory,” said Revd Simon Cade, “requiring revision of our theology and flexibility in our capacity to resource and respond in order to seize this opportunity.”
Synod approved a motion for the Executive to review the allocation of resources to its Education Department.