Launched in Advent 2021, Generous Hope will continue as a diocesan focus in 2022. We are celebrating the generosity of God who inspires us to live generously – as individuals and churches in our communities.
Read this letter sent from Bishop Michael in November 2021 about Generous Hope.
Generous Hope saw generous churches and invididuals raise over £5,000 in Advent 2021 for the Church in Matlosane, our companion diocese in South Africa which has been hard hit by COVID.
Common Fund is at the heart of Generous Hope.
Common Fund, which replaces the old Parish Share system, was introduced in January 2022 after receiving overwhelming support from Diocesan Synod.
- is a new way of doing things which is better suited to the current financial situation.
- is a fairer way of sharing the load
- expresses our shared commitment to working together in mission and ministry
- is about encouraging individual giving AND collective generosity to each other.
More about Common Fund
Common Fund is a facilitator of our deanery-focused Shaping for Mission programme. Shaping for Mission is strengthening our life of discipleship, vocation and as we work together to make our mission financially sustainable and fulfil our diocesan vision.
Responding to the financial challenges brought on by Covid-19 (and those that existed beforehand), Common Fund asks for over £1m less from parishes overall than the previous Parish Share system.
One PCC was surprised and generous when it learned its new Minimum Contribution was significantly lower - and that it was now in a position to partner with another parish just across the railway tracks that was poorer but with a vital ministry going on.
This means a significant majority of parishes will see a reduction in requested contributions, with their reductions starting in 2022. Meanwhile, those facing an increase will have up to five years to transition to their new levels through a common fund agreement.
Common Fund levels are now based on a parish’s IMD (indices of multiple deprivation) category which determines whether a parish receives mutual support from the national Church of England (via its Low Income Communities Allocation). The overall reduction in ‘share’ has been achieved through using diocesan reserves, investment income and fees income, to subsidise the annual net Cost of Deployment (also known as Cost of Ministry) for each full-time member of clergy from £62,187 to £56,490.
Diocesan central sector costs have been cut by around £400,000 a year which has also contributed to the reduction in the Cost of Deployment for parishes.
Common Fund is set at a minimum contribution level. Those parishes who can give beyond this are strongly encouraged to make agreed additional support contributions to other parishes – either locally or elsewhere in the diocese, arranged with our Finance Department. Mutual adjustment within a parish or deanery allows churches to receive or give financial support to each other as needed.
Churches can also opt to re-set previous special assessment agreements which were introduced to manage arrears.
Bishop Michael says:
“Common Fund is built on the twin principles of fairness in asking and generosity in giving. We can and we should devise systems to maximise the former, to be as equitable as we reasonably can in determining what we expect from each other as a minimum contribution to costs…But the latter, generosity in giving, has to spring from the heart that is touched by the Spirit. It can be guaranteed by no system but is always and only a loving response to the God whose love for us is without limit. And our generous love for God finds expression also in the mutual support that we owe to one another as fellow members of the Body of Christ.”
Common Fund makes it easier and more transparent for parishes work flexibly in their giving together through the concept of a benefice, deanery or team ‘share’ (or joint assessment) based on mutual support.
Watch an example of neighbouring parishes sharing clergy, resources and ministries.
Find out more – including some FAQs - about Common Fund in this report to Diocesan Synod.
There are many different tools parishes can use to help people give to their local church. These include parish JustGiving pages, contactless giving in churches and Giving Direct. Get in touch with our finance team to find out more about this or anything else concerning Common Fund.
The Church of England website's Generous Church webpages have a range of resources and ideas to create a generous church culture including encouraging giving in a local context. These included new resources for this year's Generosity Week which starts on Sunday 25 September 2022, including a weekly newsletter.
The Parish Giving Scheme is an independent charity which works to ease the administrative burden on churches while empowering people to give.
Several dioceses have good resources which could be adapted locally. These include the Diocese of York, preaching resources from the Diocese of Oxford, and Southwark Diocese who have produced bible study resources on stewardship for use in small groups in churches focusing on 'God's generosity: our response.'