Latest finance and ministry statistics published on web
Parishioners' tax-efficient planned giving averaged more than £9 a week for the first time in 2007, while the total income of parishes increased by £70 million to £898 million, well above inflation, according to the latest statistics from the Church of England. Total voluntary income rose to £485 million or £8.02 per electoral roll member per week. At the same time, total parish expenditure rose to £838 million, with £50 million of this donated by parishes to external charities.
"Data for 2007 shows that giving to parishes by individuals continues to increase year on year, with the landmark figure of £500 million being reached for the first time. We have more than 630,000 people giving in a regular way, with nearly 90 per cent given through Gift Aid enabling parishes to reclaim £78 million from HMRC," said Dr John Preston, the Church's National Stewardship and Resources Officer.
"In a time of significant economic pressure, the Church is grateful for the committed support given by so many to their local church. Our givers on average donate more than three per cent of their incomes to the Church, and we estimate that a similar proportion is given away to other causes and charities. However, this remains short of the five per cent of disposable income recommended again by the General Synod in the summer of this year."
Another 490 candidates were accepted to train as future clergy in 2008, bringing the total in training at the end of the year to 1411. In total, 574 new clergy were ordained in 2008, 19 more than in 2007 and 87 more than in 2006. Of those, 321 were entering full-time paid ministry, compared with 267 in 2007 and 226 in 2006.
While clergy numbers across 2008 remained buoyant, the number of retirements remained high. Revd Preb Lynda Barley, Head of Research & Statistics for the Archbishops' Council comments: "The large number of clergy retirements reflects the changing age profile of our nation. Parishes continue financially to support clergy in active ministry and in retirement." Taking retirements and other losses into account, there was a net loss of 112 full-time paid clergy, compared with 192 in 2007 and 182 in 2006.
At the end of 2008, there were some 28,000 licensed and authorised ministers, ordained and lay, active in the Church of England.
Since 2000, the proportion of those under 30 years of age recommended for training has increased slightly to 17 per cent. Further to encourage young vocations to the priesthood, the Ministry Division of the Archbishops' Council has developed the Call Waiting campaign including the website, a glossy magazine with essential information for prospective clergy, and a series of eye-catching posters. Audio interviews with young trainee priests, curates and vicars on the Call Waiting website chronicle the journey from initial sense of calling through discernment to training and ministry.
The latest statistics have been added to the Church of England website, alongside attendance statistics published in February.