The Diocese of Carlisle has operated a ‘Parish Offer’ system since 2009. This is the mechanism whereby the local church makes a voluntary contribution to the Diocese to fund local mission and ministry across the county, i.e. our clergy, curates, chaplains, pioneers and youth workers.
Our Parish Offer system is based on two principles: generosity (recognising God’s generosity to us and the Christian call to live generously in response) and realism (in terms of making an Offer that is related to the true costs of providing mission and ministry and is also realistic in terms of being affordable for the parish).
The Diocese of Carlisle is committed to maintaining these principles; however, we are in the process of developing the Parish Offer system to better support Mission Communities and respond to the financial context being experienced collectively by the local Church in Cumbria.
Parish Offer - Moving Forward
We are introducing two key changes to the way we operate Parish Offer:
Setting a Mission Community level offer
Parishes are being asked to set an offer at Mission Community level. This will be done in the context of a conversation facilitated through your Mission Community leaders and including the other Anglican churches within your Mission Community (if ecumenical relationships are very strong in your Mission Community you may wish to do this as part of a wider ecumenical conversation about resourcing mission and ministry in your locality). The aim of setting a Mission Community Offer is to increase the sense of partnership and accountability between constituent churches in the Mission Community and help develop the Mission Community’s strategic role in that locality.
Agreeing a three year ‘covenant’ with the Diocese
A covenant will represent a three-year commitment between a Mission Community and the Diocese to work together in a spirit partnership, to commit to a certain level of finance (in terms of levels of Parish Offer from the Mission Community and level of investment from the Diocese) and to deploy local ministry on the basis of the Mission Community’s mission and ministry plans. This is intended to give more ownership and decision making at the local Mission Community level. It doesn’t mean that every Mission Community must meet the full costs of its ministry, but it does mean Offers need to be related to costs of ministry, with many Mission Communities meeting or exceeding their costs thereby supporting ministry in areas that cannot do so.
Hear from a Mission Community who have benefited from operating this ‘covenant’ model
When will my parish be expected to operate this new system?
It is expected that most parishes and Mission Communities will enter a Mission Community level covenant by 2025. We will provide you with more information regarding how to do this at the point your Mission Community is asked to embark on this process, but in the meantime if you have any questions, you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Why are we introducing Mission Community level Offers and ‘covenants’?
Whilst the Diocese of Carlisle remains committed to the principles underlying the Parish Offer system (namely generosity and realism) we are aware that the system as it stands is not well placed to support churches in the current financial context.
In the 10 years proceeding the introduction of the Parish Offer system in 2009, Parish Offer fell in real terms by 40% - meaning collectively by 2019 the Diocese could afford 40% less ministry than before 2009. 2019 – 2021 the impact of COVID lockdowns was felt across the board as Parish Offer fell in real terms by a further 12%.
These challenges are significant, but they are not the only picture. Across the county we are seeing churches responding to amazing opportunities in mission through engaging in thriving families and youth work, schools work, chaplaincies, social action and much more.
A parish offer covenant will enable your Mission Community to work in partnership with the Diocese to make decisions around the type of mission and ministry you want to prioritise and is sustainable for your Mission Community. Resourcing and deployment decisions can be owned much more locally and be responsive to the Vision of your Mission Community.
If you have any questions or would like more information on Parish Offer, please email email@example.com