Diocese of Truro synod members have approved the budget for 2022.

The synod, whose members are all elected clergy or lay representatives from parishes, voted 38 in favour, four against with 11 abstentions to approve the budget having heard a presentation from diocesan Director of Finance and Assets Sophie Eddy.

The vote came after an active period of debate where members raised issues and asked questions of the senior diocesan team. A list of the questions asked and answers given is available here.

One of the main themes raised during the debate was the need to remember the human cost and importance of the support given to those affected by any of the decisions laid out in budget.

In her report, Sophie highlighted that the proposed budget would see an operating surplus of £26,000 with an overall deficit of £1.46 million.

With the view that ‘world experts on mission and ministry in our parishes and deaneries are those who minister in our parishes and deaneries’, the 2022 budget was produced to reflect the ‘bottom up’ planning approach.

In his Presidential Address, Bishop Philip had set the tone for the meeting. He said: “Both The Saints’ Way and On the Way are designed to help us examine our corporate, church life, and to discern what kind of church God is calling us to be: not by proceeding on the basis of unexamined assumption, or ‘because we’ve always done things this way’, but genuinely seeking to discern the call of God for us. And one thing I do believe unequivocally is that God is calling us to be a Church that rejoices in his generosity.

“…the process of change we are going through at the moment is driven my many forces other than the transforming work of the Holy Spirit – the challenges brought about by COVID not least. And the need to emerge and survive, let alone thrive, in a new landscape – that process is not without pain, pain for us all, but pain not least for some of our stipendiary clergy and their families, and I freely acknowledge that. There is a lot of understandable anxiety about.

“…whether we believe in a myth of scarcity or a God of abundance is, frankly, largely a matter of choice”

“…whether we believe in a myth of scarcity or a God of abundance is, frankly, largely a matter of choice. It’s a decision of the will. We need, quite simply, to decide whether we will trust in the goodness and the faithfulness and the generosity of our God or not. And that is a choice. We can choose to grumble or we can choose to trust: to trust one another and to trust our God. There is a lot of grumbling in the Church national at the moment and indeed in this diocese. And if we do grumble we need to recognise that is a choice we have made. Or we can choose to trust – and there’s also an awful lot of trusting going on in our diocese at the moment and in that I rejoice. The choice is clear. We need simply to decide whether we will trust our God or not. He has all we need. He is all we need. We must believe that and depend upon that. We must believe him and depend upon him.”

It was at the November Synod in 2020 that members, sent a clear message that work had to be done to reduce the deficit forecast in future years. The outcome of that was the On The Way Process, which continues to progress. And it is that process which has shaped the 2022 budget with a need to not pre-empt the outcomes of that work.

Before approving the budget, synod members had been given a background paper that clearly set out the four ‘keys’ that needed to turn in order to achieve a balanced budget in 2023. Those keys are:

·        Cost of ministry needing to be met by MMF;

·        Church House costs reduced by £250,000;

·        Mission is continuing to be invested in;

·        Being faithful.

These were set alongside six assumptions around income and expenditure:

·        MMF Contributions returning to pre-pandemic levels;

·        Surplus properties being sold in 2022;

·        The Lowest Income Communities Fund (LICF) being used for the purpose it was received;

·        A change in clergy stipend and FTE numbers;

·        Investment in mission through the adoption of Total Returns;

·        Reduction in Church House costs.

At a meeting of the Bishop’s Diocesan Council in October, members discussed the draft budget in detail before approving it for recommendation to synod.

The 2022 budget will be re-forecast quarterly to ensure it properly reflects the work of On The Way and the reductions achieved on the plan.