Islanders Being Asked To Dig Deep For Cash Strapped Diocese

St Mary's Parish Church

St Mary’s Parish Church

Islanders and visitors are being asked to help the cash-strapped Diocese of Truro.

Each Church of England parish in the region is being asked to contribute 28% more into the central diocesan fund.

In 2014, Scilly’s share was £57,000 but this year islanders will be asked for £73,000. That means that churchgoers on island will be asked to create new fundraising events and activities.

Scilly’s Anglicans have consistently paid their bill but not all mainland parishes have. The Diocese is now offering to wipe any outstanding parish payments if they pay 2015’s demand in full.

From Radio Scilly

Canon Paul Miller speaks to Radio Scilly about the financial crisis in the Diocese.

Canon Paul Miller says he won’t comment on whether that’s fair but he accepts that incomes are lower across the region and some parishioners have less money to give.

Paul says Scilly is lucky because we have a lot of generous visitors but not every parish in Cornwall can rely on this.

Traditionally the Church of England has benefited from legacies. People are now living longer and sometimes need their savings to fund their own care, so these existing sources of income can’t be relied upon.

Nobody left money to Scilly’s churches in their wills last year.

Paul is keen to explain that Scilly’s parish does benefit from the central fund because the islands receive extra services, such as upkeep of the chaplaincy, and support for the Five Islands School with foundation governors.

Despite the Diocese’s financial problems, Paul says he’s not heard any rumours that suggest that the role of Chaplain on the isles is under review.

He believes that our geographic isolation, which adds to our church costs, is an important consideration for maintaining the position.

Paul has asked the Diocese for an additional fund to support mainland and inter-island travel. As an example he says it cost £84 in special boat fares for Reverend Penny Prince to attend the St Martin’s Christmas carol service from her base on Tresco.

But he thinks that islanders who use and value the church should take the lead in raising extra money.

Each island will now be asked to devise fundraising ideas to help meet the increase in parish payments and Paul thinks the process could be beneficial.

It could have a knock on effect of energising people and bringing them together, says Paul.

And he’d like to introduce a “gift day” during which all locals could contribute to the church funds, whether they go to church or not.

Paul says many islanders realise the value of the church, particularly on special occasions like weddings and funerals, even if they don’t come on a regular basis.

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