The Wardens


From the Wardens Window


April is upon us and that brings with it the annual headcount of church attendees for the purpose of establishing our fairer share contribution to diocese.

I am often asked why do we send so much money every year to diocese? Is it just to keep the Bishop in luxury and the cathedral in good order? Well, perhaps not.

The contributions raised are required to spread evenly the cost of all the parish priests throughout the diocese and cover stipends, housing, and pension contributions. This does not include the cathedral staff.

Prior to 2004 contributions to were based on what was known as “clergy unit”. There was however at that time a general dissatisfaction with this method and a working party came up with a new scheme known as “Fairer Share”.

Since then every April for 5 successive weeks starting after Low Sunday everyone coming through the doors of all churches throughout the dioceses is individually counted, as all are no doubt well aware of by now.

Once the count has been made, the wardens meet with the Rector and make a list of all the people at all the services during that period. A return is then made to the Rural Dean of everyone who has attended at least once, plus those who would have done if they had not been sick or on holiday, and minus those who were only visiting.

In addition they have to decide which of 5 categories, which are based on the relative affluence of the many church communities, they should elect to be in. We always put forward our choice of Category C but diocese overrules this and puts us in the higher paying Category B. There is a 7.5% difference in share allocation per member between each category.  This is because the categories are based on the perceived wealth level of the parish rather than the congregation.

There is also an adjustment made in relation to these categories. The average congregation is set at between 131 and 170 members. If a congregation falls below the minimum it will be raised to a higher paying category. Our count last year was 134.

As a completely personal comment, I have never understood the logic which considers this to be fairer. Nor have I ever understood why no allowance is made for the different financial constraints between parishes with some for instance having the responsibility for maintenance of a listed ancient building.

All the deaneries then make their collective returns to diocese where the diocesan treasurer produces the budget for the coming year. Part of this is the cost of the clergy throughout the whole diocese and a diocesan-wide calculation is made to divide that particular figure by the number of regular attenders at all the churches in the diocese. This in turn is adjusted to their category.

In 2018 the figure required has been assessed at £1,012,683 for the Wimborne Deanery alone. The deanery membership is 2562 and the share per head for a category B parish is £441.46.

For us this means a total of £63,416  which we pay at the beginning of the year in one sum in order to benefit from a discount given. The net figure still however represents almost 77 per cent of our budgeted running costs for this year.

Garnet Lambert








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The Wardens - March 2018
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The Wardens - February 2018
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The Wardens - December 2017 & January 2018
The Wardens