29 November 2018, The Tablet

Scottish diocese turns to parishioners for help with ‘dire’ finances

The Bishop of Argyll and the Isles has called on parishes to help resolve the diocese’s “dire and perilous” financial situation, writes Brian Morton.

In a letter and leaflet distributed last week, Bishop Brian McGee said that the diocese had been obliged to draw on capital to address a deficit of £90,000 in the accounts.

While individual parishes were doing well, the cost of running a very scattered diocese was very high. Income across the diocese was audited as £207,883, while projected costs for the year were estimated as £296,118, leaving a substantial shortfall for 2019.

Bishop McGee said: “We have more churches per head of population than any other diocese, which are often battered by the inclement weather, and our priests have more ground to cover.”

Additional costs specific to Argyll and the Isles include ferry journeys and flights, but the diocese is also supporting sick or retired priests, two student priests, as well as making a contribution to the Scottish Bishops’ Conference.

From 1 December, the diocesan levy for each parish was set to increase, but the situation could be rectified if each family were able to contribute an additional £1 per week.

“We felt it was essential that our parishioners were made aware of the financial situation we find ourselves in,” said Bishop McGee. “It’s their money that goes into the collection each week and these documents will clearly outline where the money is spent.”

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