Belfast Telegraph

Task force call as Church of Ireland funds drop £9.5m

By Victoria O'Hara

A new task force is needed within the Church of Ireland to produce “imaginative proposals” to generate more money after accounts revealed a drop in its central funds in excess of €12m (£9.5m), an internal document has said.

The report of the Representative Church Body to the General Synod in May highlighted the financial difficulties being faced.

The total value of General Funds fell from a restated value of €152.5m (£120.5m) in 2010 to €140.5m (£110m).

The drop was influenced by a fall of approximately 5.7% in the values of invested assets, and by withdrawals of €5.5m (£4.3m) to support the solvency of the Clergy Pensions Fund (€5m) and the Staff Pension Fund (€0.5m).

In the most recent editorial of the Church of Ireland Gazette, it states the huge financial dip revealed in the report “diminishes the capability of General Funds in future to support the activities of the wider Church”.

But the Gazette, which is editorially and financially independent of the Church, said that, apart from General Funds, the CoI’s Clergy Pensions Fund is also under “immense pressure”.

It adds that “radical proposals” to cope with the Pensions Fund difficulties are expected at the General Synod next year.

The magazine said that raising more funds cannot be achieved by further burdening the parishes.

The editorial said it was “clearly time” for the Church of Ireland centrally to try to find new and additional ways of raising funds.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, editor of the Church of Ireland Gazette Canon Ian Ellis said: “If the Church of Ireland centrally wants to sustain and develop its work in a range of areas it will have to find new money.

“It is not clear how it can be done, but it is clear that if the church does not address the question, demoralising cut backs and more pressure on central church staff will follow.”

Belfast Telegraph

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