At the diocesan synod held in November, the elected members from both the houses of lay and clergy approved the budget with just four voting against.

The overall call for next year will reduce by 1.6% with the individual parish calls being set through the new deanery led MMF allocation method.

Prior to the full budget presentation and debate, members had heard from diocesan secretary Esther Pollard who gave a presentation on the feedback gathered at the September synod. In September, members considered a number of questions relating to the finances of the diocese and its parishes. Further feedback from in-parish discussions after September’s synod were also included.

The session encouraged comments and lead into a presentation by the chairman of the Truro Diocesan Board of Finance Ltd, Mike Sturgess, on the proposed budget for 2020, of which members had been able to review in the weeks before synod.

During the debate that followed the main points centred on ministry, deprivation and poverty.

In response to concerns raised relating to the number of proposed stipendiary priests in Pydar deanery, Mike said: “Clergy are not the only ‘sales force’. The idea that someone can only be effective if they have a dog collar is not a good one. It ignores all the other types of ministry, lay ministry, youth workers, family and children’s workers.”

General Synod member and diocesan social responsibility officer Andrew Yates spoke in relation to earlier comments made by Mike regarding changes to how national funding from the Church Commissioners was allocated. The diocese is required to report on where and how the money is spent in relation to work on deprivation and poverty. Andrew said: “The diocese has resources when it comes to understanding deprivation in our diocese through many channels including Transformation Cornwall. To say that the diocese needs to justify how this money is spent is the wrong way of putting it. It is a bottom up process. It is called the Low Income Communities Fund. It’s about going to those low income communities and asking them ‘what can we do for you?’”.

Hope

After noting her appreciation for the way the budget report is now provided in greater detail Revd Sian Yates said: “I am so pleased that we started with the bishop’s opening address on hope. We can have hope and be radical but by doing things differently. We are given money by the Church Commissioners to work among the poor. I understand what a hole it would make if we were to use that money to really help the poor.”

Many spoke of their concerns in relation to setting any deficit budget without a plan in place to balance the budget going forward. Bishop Philip addressed these concerns saying: “I would share your anxiety if that were the case. There are a number of things going on. We are not solely relying on an MMF receipts increase.”

Taking up the theme of being radical to grow the church, Revd Elly Sheard, synod member and chaplain to Truro College, said: “One of the ways in which we need to think more radically is in terms of how we structure the Church with respect to communities. We hear about parishes but most of the world doesn’t operate like that. The communities they belong to aren’t geographically based. Communities could be schools, people’s work places, hospitals. The Church needs to look at how we engage with the whole of our communities including online rather than being expected to do it all from our parishes, which are only our geographical units.”

“If God is leading us into something new, then let it be.”

Ending the debate before the vote, Bishop Philip said: “If God is leading us into something new, then let it be.”

The budget was approved following a vote, which saw four members vote against it.