Structural privilege, finance and efforts to ensure sustainability while making new disciples were just some of the subjects discussed at a recent meeting of Diocesan Synod, which was held on Zoom on Saturday, 18th July 2020.

Bishop’s Address by the Bishop of Grantham

‘I think we’re experiencing one massive wake-up moment’ was one of the statements made by Bishop Nicholas as part of an Address that considered the challenges of recent months, and which also made reference to human sexuality, relationships and gender identity, and black and minority ethnic people. Bishop Nicholas (pictured above) told Synod that ‘This is not a time for despondency; rather it’s a time for hope’, and ‘Now is the time for holding up the head, reaching out the hand and enacting the Sermon on the Mount’.

A filmed recording of the Address may be viewed here.


Matters relating to the Annual General Meeting

Financial Statements, Audit Findings Report & Reappointment of the Auditors

Mr Chris Clarke (Chair of the Lincoln Diocesan Trust and Board of Finance) reminded Synod that in July 2019 it had agreed to a level of expenditure of £12,787,675. Of this amount, the amount that was spent was £12,414,000, which was £373,675 better than that authorised.

In terms of income in 2019, Parish Share accounted for 37% of the income, with the next highest figure (25%) coming from investments and assets. In terms of expenditure, clergy stipends, pensions and national insurance was the greatest expense (46%), with the next highest expense being support for parish ministry (21%).

The next item on the agenda would further address the financial situation in the diocese.

To download a copy of the 2019 Summarised Annual Report, the 2019 Full Annual Report and Accounts, and also a 2020 Diocesan Budget Brochure, please see here.

Resourcing Sustainable Church

Bishop David (pictured above) provided a presentation on the work of the five Resourcing Sustainable Church lever groups, which have been considering the areas of assets, costs, raising parish share, deployment and how to grow the church.

Bishop David said that it will not be possible to fulfil the previously stated aspiration of 153 stipendiary equivalent posts in the diocese. The aim will now be for a minimum of 100 stipendiary equivalent posts, with an emphasis of shared ministry teams of clergy and laity, working not over single parishes or benefices but across areas that match those of our Local Authorities.

With regard to Parish Share, Bishop David reported on a proposal to move from the current formula-based approach, used to calculate a Parish Share request, to an approach that will be based on ‘covenanted conversations’, with those conversations exploring the reality of what parishes can afford to give, and what the diocese can afford to provide in response.

In the autumn, there will be a series of public meetings held across the diocese (at which participation will also be possible by electronic means), and these meetings will offer opportunities for the sharing of more information and also suggestions on the way forward and implementation. On 21st November, Diocesan Synod will take decisions about implementation so that preparation may be made to put plans into action during 2021.


Safeguarding Update

The Ven. Gavin Kirk, Archdeacon of Lincoln, began by stating that Debbie Johnson had recently taken up a new role with another organisation, and that Penny Turner is now serving as the Acting Diocesan Safeguarding Adviser.

The Archdeacon thanked parishes for their recent work in relation to Past Cases Review 2 (background information on PCR2 is available here).

It was also said that Penny Turner and Lucy Russell (Safeguarding Training Co-ordinator) are working to update clergy and lay ministers on how they might undertake safeguarding training via electronic means, as it remains difficult to meet in person at this time.

In addition, it was reported that the Safeguarding Dashboards, which were discussed at the November 2019 meeting of Diocesan Synod, have now been successfully launched to two-thirds of parishes in the diocese. More details are available in the Synod Digest for the November meeting – see here.


The DAC Annual Report and Legislative Update

The Revd Elaine Turner (Chair of the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches) provided details on the work of the DAC, including an explanation of the faculty process. As Elaine explained, ‘The Church of England’s mechanism for regulating changes to its buildings, contents and churchyards is in the form of the Faculty Jurisdiction. It applies to all Anglican parish churches, listed and unlisted, and is in effect an equivalent to ‘planning permission’, and serves as a licence to carry out work.

There are two categories of work that (since April 2016) do not required a faculty. These lists were revised recently (April 2020) and are as follows:

  • List A – this covers much routine maintenance which does not affect fabric or historic material
  • List B – this covers works that can be carried out upon the receipt of written consent from the Archdeacon.

Any work not identified under List A or B must have a faculty.

It was advised that at the outset it is wise to first contact  the DAC (via Steven Sleight, DAC Secretary; [email protected]) for some initial advice.

The DAC has a range of experts that may be called upon to offer advice, and their areas of expertise include architecture, fabric conservation, heating and lighting, bells, organs and stained glass.

From April 2020, applicants will be advised as to whether further reports (e.g. from English Heritage and/or the Church Buildings Council) are to be included within a faculty application, meaning that the application may be considered with all of the relevant information in place.

The DAC will cover the faculty application fee, and it can provide details of available grants and offer site visits. During the presentation it was stressed that the DAC wishes to help parishes and to help them to realise their intended project if at all possible.

It is important to note that the Church of England has published guidance on permissions for temporary works in churches and cathedrals. This guidance summarises the options for gaining permission for temporary changes needed to reopen church and cathedral buildings following the COVID-19 pandemic, and is listed under ‘Guidance’ in the ‘Documents’ section here

If deanery synods and chapters would welcome a presentation on the work of the DAC, please contact Steven Sleight ([email protected]).


The DBE Annual Report

Jackie Waters-Dewhurst (Director of Education) spoke on the Trustees Report to Diocesan Synod from the Board of Education, which is a summary of the work of the Lincoln Diocesan Board of Education from 1st January 2019 to 31st December 2019.

As part of this, Jackie highlighted that the strategic plan had been signed off and said that a new way of working had been introduced. As a result, officers have developed seven separate development plans, of which they have ownership. These are monitored termly by the whole team and at each of the directors’ meetings. The seven plans are as follows:

  • Governance, Leadership and School Improvement
  • Religious Education
  • Service Level Agreement and Festivals
  • Diocese, Church and Clergy
  • Climate Change/Environment
  • Finance, Trusts and Administration
  • Academy Strategy.

In terms of achievements and performance in 2019, 124 schools (88%) of all Church of England schools chose to subscribe to the Diocesan Service Level Agreement, and 1066 delegates attended a total of 49 training events.

The diocesan vision for education is ‘Church Schools serving their communities through excellence, exploration and encouragement within the love of God’. For more information, please see here.


Bishop David drew the meeting of Synod to a close with a prayer and blessing.

A printable version of the above digest is available here.