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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

The @c_of_e renewal & reform programme - a 6 point Executive Summary & then a more detailed Summary: reverse the decline; bias funding to that & the poor; more diverse & better prepared leaders; simplified processes

Yesterday the CofE announced “In Each Generation”, a programme for reform and renewal.  

The announcement explained that the 1st batch of papers for the February 2015 meeting of the General Synod would be available to download from the Church of England website on Friday 16th January.

What follows below is an Executive summary of the main conclusions in the 1st paper - “In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal.  This "1st paper"  appears to be the text included in the 12/1/15 announcement. This Executive Summary is then followed by a more detailed summary.

The 1st paper is from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. It gives an overview of the programme for reform and renewal represented by the work of 4 task groups formed a year ago. The work of these groups will be published and will be the main focus for the February 2015 General Synod.

Executive Summary (mine - not the Archbishops)

1) The statistics show CofE membership reducing in no's and older than the general population. To proclaim the good news afresh we need to reform and renew whilst being loyal to our inheritance.

2) Funding will have a bias to the poor and a commitment to spiritual and numerical growth. Funding impact will subject to a clear eyed review of its impact, as judged and monitored by peer groups. The Church Commissioners may for a period fund some of this from previous endowments.

3) Leaders will be more from more diverse backgrounds and better prepared. Lay leadership will be invested in.  The no's coming forward for full time ordained ministry will be increased.

4) There will continue to be 42 Diocese Strategies.

5) Pastoral reorganisation and clergy deployment will be simplified.  Other processes will be streamlined and redundant paperwork tackled.

6) Next Steps - further development and consultation. Because of that February 2015 Synod - please don't suggest detailed amendments (plus summer elections will produce a new General Synod in November).

A more detailed summary ...

1) Conclusions on the context the CofE finds itself in

a) The Church’s vocation is to proclaim the good news afresh, renewed, reformed in each generation whilst being loyal to the inheritance of faith and open to God’s Spirit;

b) The spiritual challenge of reform and renewal is both personal and institutional;

c) Renewing and reforming aspects of the CofE's institutional life is a necessary but far from sufficient response to the challenges facing the Church of England;

d) The 4 groups recommendations are a means not an end;

e) Attendance has declined 1% p.a for decades;

f) Membership is significantly older than that of the general population;

g) Finances are stable, thanks to increased individual giving but this can't continue given e);

h) The age profile of CofE clergy has been increasing;

i) 40% of parish clergy are due to retire over the next decade or so;

j) Ordination rates are well below that needed to maintain current clergy numbers;

k) The burden of church buildings weighs heavily;

l) Reorganisation at parish level is complicated by current procedures;

m) The Sheffield formula allocation of priests is no longer generally observed;

n) The Darlow formula distribution of funds doesn't emphasise growth, has no relationship to deprivation and involves no mutual accountability;

o) There is no central investment in reaching out into the digital and social media world.

2) Leaders in the church - the report aims:

a) to ensure proper care for those involved;

b) a genuine diversity in those available for appointment;

c) excellent theological and spiritual preparation;

d) a familiarity with the key elements necessary for day to day working.

3) Promoting vocations to full time ministry - the report aims for:

a) a significant and sustained increase in the no.'s coming forward for full time ordained ministry;

b) improving candidates formation - both pre/post-ordination and sustaining them in the ministry;

c) a proper diversity of candidates to be identified and called;

d) investment in lay ministry and leadership & national initiatives for lay development.

4) Strategy for CofE mission and ministry:

a) there can be no single one - there will continue to be 42 diocesan strategies;

b) consider how central funds might be made available for dioceses to achieve numerical and spiritual growth.

5) Resourcing - The report proposes:

a) replacement of the Darlow Formula with allocations based on population, income and deprivation levels;

b) the creation of a new funding stream available for growth initiatives;

c) release of funds linked to clear plans for their use and clear eyed review of their impact, as judged and monitored by peer groups.

6) Simplification - the report identifies specific legislative changes to:

a) remove hindrances to mission in relation to pastoral reorganisation and clergy deployment;

b) streamline processes and to tackle redundant paperwork.

7) Funding - " We are, therefore, grateful to the Church Commissioners for being willing to produce a report that opens up the issues around whether, for a period, they might be prepared to modify the way in which they currently seek to ensure inter-generational equity when determining what level of funding to make available from their permanent endowment"   I think this means they want to borrow money from that deposited in the past to enable the future.

8) Next Steps:

a) further development is still needed on some of the proposals;

b) and consultation required on many of the detailed outworkings before the relevant bodies can reach conclusions;

c) a request to General Synod to debate the proposals proportionally "We hope Synod members might be prepared to resist the temptation to overload the motions with a large number of amendments on points of detail. In a few months’ time the life of this General Synod will come to an end and fresh elections will take place in readiness for the first meeting of the new Synod in November." 

Related CofE Posts

CofE Discerning & nurturing paper - with Green Report attached - from January 2015

Church Commissioners' funds and inter-generational equity - from January 2015

CofE Resourcing the Future - from January 2015

CofE Resourcing Ministerial Education - from January 2015

CofE Simplification paper - from January 2015

CofE Developing Discipleship paper - from January 2015

“In Each Generation” : A programme for reform and renewal - from January 2015

The Green Report - on CofE talent management - from December 2014

CofE typos in services - a compilation of a @OurCofE twitter hashtag - from December 2014

CofE 2013 mission stats - from November 2014

Household of faith conference - one of several posts summarising - from July 2014

CofE Strategies - one of several posts summarising - from June/July 2014

Role of church in society conference - from June 2014

CofE church growth research conference - from January 2014

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