Louise Oliver, a member of the Parish Share Steering Committe, reflects on her experience developing the new Parish Share system.
When the Parish Share Steering committee first convened I was the treasurer at All Saints’ New Haw. I stepped down to discern a calling to ministry and I am currently studying at Sarum College for Ordained Ministry.
The Diocese were purposeful in forming a committee that was representative of a range of people. I was conscious that I represented a number of groups, including small churches. The group were very open to hearing from the different perspectives and voices and mindful of the impact each decision would have on individual churches.
In all the meetings and events I have attended I have been stuck by the high regard the group have had to ensure that this work and the decisions made were underpinned by sound biblical principles. It has helped frame the decision making and then communicating this on many occasions. I have also been struck by the level of competence and depth of knowledge within the group and the diligence to consult, inform, collate information and project information each step of the process, even if this required more work than had been anticipated at times.
I know change will be afoot for many people with the new Parish share system and for some the changes may be painful. Having been through a painful period surrounding finances at All Saints’ I understand some of the pressures, but I also know we are stronger now and we have all grown in this experience. We had great support from the Diocese in this period and God has truly blessed our Church and our congregation have been faithful supporters in this time, so much so our financial situation is presently stable.
Through the consultation, Synod meetings and the committee discussions it was evident that change was necessary to ensure the Diocese had sustainable finances going forward with a focus on growth and strategic support. Once the changes had been agreed at the Bishop’s Council more time was built into the transition to enable the change to take place in a slower and measured way and further consultation followed. The Diocese continue to be committed to working with churches affected by this change to ensure this transition period is managed well with the same diligence they have undertaken throughout this review. God calls us into unity, into community and asks us to be good stewards of His provision and trust these values have underpinned the work of the committee.