Corona Virus Update – Diocese of Newcastle Engagement with Clergy, Churchwardens and Parish Council Treasurers

Corona Virus Update – 24 March – Number 2

Dear colleagues,

The Diocesan Office has been contacted by a number of parishes about the financial pressure they are facing. Let me assure you that your worries are not far from our minds at any time.

The financial impact of the coronavirus is significant. Interest rates have dropped, investment capital has dropped, and many sources of income have dried up.

We are not able to undertake ministry/business as usual and will not be able to do so for some time.

We are working to understand the financial situation facing every part of the Diocese. We are looking at government support initiatives. We are seeking a safety-net for dicoesan and parish staff.

As part of a shared response, we need Clergy, Churchwardens and Parish Council Treasurers to –

  1. Defer all non-essential expenditure. This means deferring maintenance and other projects. If you haven’t started a project – defer it. If you can stop part way through – defer it.
  2. Make sure your parishioners know how to give electronically to the parish ministry. If you don’t have access to your parish banking details, you can contact our CFO, Glen Cousins. Any invitation needs sympathetically to recognise that parishioners are feeling economic uncertainty as well.
  3. Let people know how they can give support to other parishes can contribute directly to a Parish Support Trust, The Account name is Stipend Support, the account number: 00041245 and the BSB is 705 077
  4. Honour financial commitments to the Diocese as fully, as best as you can and promptly.
  5. Don’t store up funds locally.
  6. Inform the Diocese promptly of variations or issues facing tenants contact the executive team
  7. Inform the Diocese of your local surprises!

Shortly Parish Council Treasurers will be asked to provide some critical information to assist the diocesan analysis, planning and support. We will try to make this in as simple and easy to complete format as we can. Treasurers will recognise that we are looking at cash coming in, cash that needs to go out and the shortfall. We will only ask what we need immediately and hope for a quick turnaround of information.

I anticipate that across the Diocese we are going to need to draw further on reserves but we must do this at the right time and in the right day. I will be discussing this with the Diocesan Council and the NACC Board over the 10 days, The NACC was established to bring increased professional skill to this work. I am grateful for them all.

I advise that at diocesan level we will not be filling any vacant position in the Diocesan Office. I am also putting a freeze on any new ministerial appointments at this time.

I undertake to keep you informed about financial planning as we can, when we can, as soon as we can. We will need patience as the landscape is volatile and the options are fluid. There are some tough decisions to make over the next few weeks.

I am seeking to find the mind of Christ expressed in Matthew chapter 6, verses 25 – 33 where Jesus encouraged people not to be anxious about their daily needs.This scriptural invitation to trust in God has taken on a different shape in these troubling times. Please be assured of prayers for you all.

Please feel free to be in touch with significant news or insights from your setting.

Grace and peace

+Peter