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Church 'needs to be run like business'

A FUNDING shortfall could lead to fewer clergy and paid staff in churches. The Rev Anthony Oehring, of Faversham Parish Church, wants regular donors or stewards to give an extra £2 to £3 a week.

And he warned that costs for baptism, funerals or weddings might have to rise. The church had to run itself in some ways as a business, he said.

He told parishioners in The Spire magazine that if they continued to want two clergy at Faversham and Graveney Churches then an increasing commitment was required. "It's an issue that both here and at Graveney we've got to tackle," said Mr Oehring.

The issue has not yet reached crisis proportions, but he wanted a debate now on what parishioners wanted.

Part of the problem was that people who gave regularly to the church, either as grant aid or through stewardship, did not fully appreciate what they were supporting.

The largest slice goes towards supporting clergy.

"I think we are still educating people on how budgets are made up and why it is that money is paid to the diocese. Basically churches are having to become more and more self-sufficient in paying the clergy. They have to decide whether they want a stipendiary or non-stipendiary vicar. "Alongside that is a long-standing tradition here of a vicar, curate and director of music," he said.

"Those are long-standing costs. In the long run do we continue with that? Are there other ways of providing the ministry? Can we pay for it? Church growth is the major contributor to that."

He assured churchgoers change was not imminent but in the long run a different way of running the ministry might be necessary. Already it was moving towards a team ministry style.

Mr Oehring said people turned to the church in times of great crisis or change in their lives. They might need to be realistic in the future as to how much that cost.

"It's a question of taking a fresh look," he said. "Once people accept and understand what we are talking about then we will agree a strategy. I am not threatening anything."

For details of how to help the church Mr Oehring is on 01795 532592.

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