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The parish church ‘is beneath actual risk’, says Bishop of Truro

The Bishop of Truro, Philip Mounstephen, is worried about the way forward for the parish church.(Picture: Diocese of Truro)

The Bishop of Truro in Cornwall has admitted that “the parish church immediately is beneath actual risk”.

Talking on Saturday to members of Truro Diocesan Synod, Bishop Philip Mounstephen stated the important thing threats had been “an ageing demographic, declining congregations, the burden of sustaining buildings, the wrestle to have interaction with lacking generations, and declining revenue”.

“These are actual and severe threats which require actual and severe responses,” he stated.

However he additionally careworn he was “definitely not blaming anybody for this state of affairs”.

“That is actually nobody’s fault. The forces which have led to this state of affairs have been in play for no less than 150 years,” he stated. 

The bishop spoke in regards to the Save the Parish campaign launched in London in August forward of elections to the CofE’s parliament, the Normal Synod.

“It was launched to counter what its organisers understand to be a centralised plan to put off the parish system,” Bishop Mounstephen stated.

He advised synod members that he and the world bishop of St Germans, Hugh Nelson, wrote to clergy when Save the Parish launched, saying: “We need to guarantee you that there isn’t any central plan to undermine the parish system or to side-line the ministry of clergy. (And even when there have been nationally, there wouldn’t be on this diocese!) And neither is there any such plan.

However, he added in his presidential handle to the synod that his “concern with the ‘Save the Parish’ motion isn’t principally that it’s reacting to what I consider to be a non-existing risk”.

“I am rather more involved that it would distract us from these very actual threats that I discussed simply now,” he stated.

Truro Diocese, which incorporates round 300 church buildings in 200 parishes, lots of them rural, has the oldest congregations of any diocese within the CofE, he stated.

The diocese additionally skilled a sharper fall in revenue through the Covid pandemic than some other CofE diocese.

Almost all frontline parish clergy in Cornwall are serving a number of church buildings. Bishop Mounstephen reported that the prices of clergy housing and stipends – or salaries – “outstripped by a way” the monetary contributions that the majority native clusters of parish church buildings in deaneries had been making.

“In some instances by very massive sums certainly,” he stated. 

“Once more I do not need to attribute blame, however equally we should recognise that that’s merely not a sustainable scenario.

“None of us would think about that such an enormous shortfall between revenue and expenditure could be acceptable in a enterprise or in a household’s funds.

“None of us would see that as acceptable within the funds of a parish. Neither is it an appropriate scenario within the lifetime of our diocese.

“And I might be failing in my obligation if I didn’t guarantee we addressed it.”

Previously head of Church Mission Society, Philip Mounstephen grew to become Bishop of Truro in 2018. 

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