Diocesan cash flow unable to meet expenses bishop reports
The Diocese of Rochester is insolvent, the Rt. Rev. James Langstaff announced this week and will cut all non-essential works projects, freeze clergy stipends and postpone new hires in order to balance its budget. In a 7 July 2016 letter to clergy and parochial church councils Bishop Langstaff said in 2015 the diocese ran a deficit of £604,000 and was expected to have a shortfall of £557,000 this year. “This means that our present position is worse than expected because, while this has also been funded from reserves, those general reserves are now almost exhausted.” However, at this stage “the remaining reserves are not sufficient to fund this deficit.” In order to make ends meet the bishop said all clergy stipends would be frozen, all “discretionary” spending halted, repairs postponed on churches and vicarages, training programs cut back, and vacant vicarages let to renters. “The longer term solutions lie in, we prayerfully hope, an increase in income from parishes together with a reduction in the overall number of clergy,” the bishop said.The Rochester diocese serves a population of 1.3 million and has 239 churches in 216 parishes. Resourcing this ministry requires skill, expertise, safeguarding provision, legal and other services. “These are challenging times ahead for the diocese,” which comprises 239 churches in 216 parishes serving 1.3 million people, and “all of us, both lay and ordained, have a shared responsibility to respond to the challenges that are now before us if we are to continue to grow God’s Kingdom in this place,” the bishop said.