Churchgoers cash boost to diocese
WORSHIPPERS in Suffolk gave a record amount to the Church of England last year, and almost £1 million more than they gave three years ago.The St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, which incorporates most of Suffolk, has just revealed that worshippers gave a record amount during 2003.
WORSHIPPERS in Suffolk gave a record amount to the Church of England last year, and almost £1 million more than they gave three years ago.
The St Edmundsbury and Ipswich Diocese, which incorporates most of Suffolk, has just revealed that worshippers gave a record amount during 2003.
The annual accounts, to be presented to the annual general meeting of the Diocesan Board of Finance next month, reveal that 2002's total was bettered by more than £361,000.
There are around 23,300 regular worshippers in the diocese, 19,900 of them adults and overall the parishes contributed £4,576,060 to the Church's budget, 97% of the total requested and almost £1m more than just three years ago.
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Michael Wilde, chairman of the Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF), said: "These contributions are truly magnificent, yet there is much to be done to ensure that we can continue to fund the Church in Suffolk in the years ahead."
The diocese recorded an operating deficit of £445,000 during 2003, caused by factors including extra spending on clergy salaries and lack of support for a parish post
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support fund, which supports the work of six members of clergy in poorer parts of the county.
The books were balanced through the generous bequest of farmer Jock Causton, chairman of the DBF between 1958 and 1976.
Mr Causton left a share of his £8 million legacy to the Church in Suffolk, thought to be one of the largest ever bequests to the diocese. Mr Causton, who held a CBE, left £800,000 to the board after making his money through an investment portfolio and his farming estate.
Mr Causton's portfolio was valued at about £3.8m and his Brightwell estate sold for £4.3m.
Mr Wilde said: "All the money gifted to us will be invested. The income will help to reduce the amount requested from parishes to meet the agreed budget of the Church, and therefore every parish in the diocese will benefit directly from Jock's will."
The latest giving figures come after the Church Commissioners revealed yesterdaythat they have had the best investment results for four years.
The Church Commissioners' annual report and accounts for 2003 has just been released, and during last year they capitalised on the recovery in stock markets since last spring.
There were positive returns on all assets, which were worth several billion pounds at the end of the year. But the Suffolk diocese is regarded as affluent and money from the commissioners, currently standing at about £293,000, will decrease to nothing within three years.