Diocese of Leicester responds to press reports about Minster Communities

There has been inaccurate reporting in some parts of the national media about how the Diocese of Leicester's Minster Communities will work. The following should help clarify. 


1. Parishes will retain their own PCCs with all the power they previously had, parishes remain in control, will still make decisions about what they want to happen. There will not be any mega parishes or merged parishes. Parishes will choose whether or not they want to work in cooperation with others within a minster community and their assets will not be sold off. 

2. Whilst each Minster Community team is expected to be made up of a minimum of four stipended posts, each one will also have many more other ministers including lay leaders and self-supporting ministers. It is not true that one clergy person will represent all the congregations. Each church will have a named minister. 

3. There is no fixed number for the number of stipendiary clergy within a Minster Community or fixed number for the number of parishes included. Minster Communities will vary in the number of parishes in each, based on a range of factors relating to geography, population size, finance, and ministry needs being among them. The eventual composition of each Minster Community is decided by a programme of facilitated local conversations between the parishes involved. The number of stipended clergy posts is largely decided by the level of giving within the Minster Community, and so can be increased with a sustained increase in giving. 

4. The Minster Community framework came out of an extensive research exercise and 400 Local Conversations which produced over 85,000 words of feedback, and the framework was approved by our Diocesan synod in October 2021, with 72% of members in favour. It is implemented through a local facilitation process, meaning parishes decide what the model will look like in their context, the nature of the leadership team, and the focus of their mission. 

5. It is inaccurate to say that “Leicester Diocese has one of the worst ratios of diocesan staff to parish clergy”. There are currently 38.3 FTE staff in Diocesan support roles (a reduction from 43.3 in 2021) and 134 clergy employed across the Diocese. An additional 27.0 FTE staff are employed in the commercial operations of the Diocese (such as the St Martin’s Lodge hotel and St Martin’s Conference Centre) but they are in income-generating posts which means they are paid from the revenue of those commercial operations (not from the DBF budget) and the profit from those enterprises goes back into the wider Diocese. These commercial operations provide important income for the Diocese, including funding for clergy posts. 

6. The diocese isn't ‘looking to parish share’ or ‘parish assets’ to solve our deficit, as stated in a Church Times article. Like any diocese, a significant proportion of our income comes from parish contributions and unfortunately very few parishes currently cover the costs of their own ministry. Part of our planned approach to tackle the shortfall has involved both a reduction in the number of central staff and the sale of diocesan assets (land, houses and investments). However, this is not a long-term solution to achieving financial stability and so we are working with parishes to become self-sustaining. 

7. There are no plans to make clergy redundant or to leave churches in permanent vacancies.

8. The Diocese of Leicester is not as stated in the Church Times article “insensitive to theological difference.” Theological diversity in the Church of England is not a new thing, and we already have benefices where individual churches within the benefice are drawn from different traditions, churches work together across traditions in Deaneries, and diocesan committees and central staff teams also span the range of Anglican traditions. 

9. We do not recognise Ms Tilby’s reference to ‘evidence that the scheme is unlikely to work’ - church attendance and giving are influenced by many factors and we are committed to supporting parishes to flourish. 

More information about the Shaped by God Together journey and Minster Communities can be found here.

First published on: 20th May 2023
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