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Show me the money

Jerry Maguire

I do wonder sometimes about the wisdom of the Church of England in its various guises. Before we got here to college, we had a meeting with the person in charge of finances at the diocese. We were encouraged to apply for grants from a number of bodies to supplement the money that we would be given by both the diocese (the lion’s share) and the central church bodies (a little bit extra).

I dutifully did so and applied to several different bodies. I even found a few that were not recommended on the official “list” of possible grant-making bodies. I spent a fair amount of time in the summer filling in forms, organizing references and completing the various bodies’ requirements.

This weekend just gone I heard back from two of those bodies. They had both decided to give us a grant… not huge, but not insignificant either. As I had been instructed in the summer, I told the diocese of the results. It turns out that because the grants were not ‘specified’ for particular things, the diocese reduces what they give us by the same amount that we received from these other bodies. In other words, we are no better off. All my efforts have achieved is to save the diocese a few quid.

When I told the diocese, the person responsible there was really pleased. She commented ‘Congratulations – I can’t remember the last time I had an ordinand receive grants!’ To be perfectly honest, I am not surprised if whenever someone gets a grant, the diocese takes it straight back off them again!

Now I know I do okay in what I get as an ordinand. It’s not a kings ransom – in fact it’s a bit basic and with my wife a full-time mum and not earning, it can get tight at times. However, it also is reasonable and they don’t leave us bereft on the streets or starving or something. Those grants could have made such a difference and it’s gutting (to be honest) to have my efforts actually get us no better off.

Talking to others around college, some try to get each grant “specified” for something like books to try and prevent the diocese nabbing it. Some simply don’t tell their diocese if they do get a grant from elsewhere. I can understand why they might do that (much easier) but, at the same time, I don’t particularly want to do anything that might put financial integrity into question.

Looking at the bigger picture, there are some plusses. I appreciate that my training isn’t cheap and the Church of England is investing a serious amount of money in me. Being able to put something back is a good thing… but surely they’d find ordinands far more ready to look for other sources of funding if there was something… some kind of small incentive to actually make it worth our while? Even getting 10% of the total would have been a blessing.

Now…  I need to get in touch with those other bodies I applied to and see if they can “specify” any grants they might be thinking of sending me before the diocese snaffle those as well.


Christopher Robinson

Perhaps telling them how you felt might make a difference? I am not looking for grants at the moment because of all this stuff (I had a suspicion) but I can imagine that I might do at times when things are getting tighter, and I will let the diocese know but I will also let them know that either they let us keep some of it or we have to sleep with our landlord (who is in fact Cambridge University, so might take a while)

Sounds silly but they might have a heart.

The picture is brilliant, where do you find them?

Colette Thornborough

Hate to break it to you, but it’s all just part of the preparation for the realities of post-ordination life! It ain’t easy – worth it, but not financially always easy. Your blog on the Archbishop and Jeremy Begbie’s lecture, made me long for the days of listening to Jeremy. Grace and peace!

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