(Church Times) Strategic Development Fund opens a route to faith, says study

It is now seven years since a task group led by the finance chair of the Archbishops’ Council, John Spence, published Resourcing the Future (News, 16 January 2015), a report that proposed a “fundamental shift” in the ways money from the Church Commissioners was distributed to dioceses, warning that those currently deployed had “only a superficial link to growth and have failed the poorest communities” and that “a large amount of money is subsidising decline.”

Under the existing approach at the time, most central funds had been provided under the Darlow formula, which calculated the needs of parishes on the basis of financial need and attendance. This was replaced with the two new funding streams (News, 21 October 2016). Half of the total (£24 million per year at the outset) would be earmarked for the dioceses with the greatest concentration of low-income communities through LInC. The other half, SDF, would be made available to dioceses through grants for which they would have to bid, demonstrating that their project would result in “a significant difference to their mission and financial health”.

The new approach was introduced in 2017, to run until 2026.

The Archbishops’ Council has been challenged to conduct and publish an independent review of SDF. While some dioceses have published evaluations of their projects, including Leicester (News, 3 October 2019) and Portsmouth, many others have not. Mr Spence, who also chairs the SIB, told General Synod in 2019 that by the following year there would be enough evidence for an “objective, thor­ough, and independent review” (Features, 15 November 2019).

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Evangelism and Church Growth, Parish Ministry, Stewardship