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A conference in tight financial times

One or two people have questioned whether a diocesan conference should be held at a time when finances in the diocese are straitened. It’s a good question, and one that the planning group took seriously. At the point when it became clear that diocesan level activity would have to be looked at carefully, arrangements for the conference were already well in hand, which would have meant making a financial sacrifice if the conference was cancelled. We had already booked Yarnfield conference centre, which is actually less expensive than the conference centre used on previous occasions.

More importantly though, was the question of what the benefit of the conference is. At a time when we are being asked to make sacrifices, the conference is an opportunity to show the ministers of the diocese, lay and ordained, that they are valued. Valued enough to be worth investing in – investing in a chance to relax and gain refreshment together, to learn together, to form vision together. Our message for the ministers is: you matter, and so you are very much worth spending some money on.

Having said that, we have made cuts to the budget in the same way as other diocesan budget holders. There are things that we are not paying for that you’ve had on previous occasions. So when you are given a gift and a glass of something nice on your way in, or a glass of wine at any other point in the conference, join us in thanking the organisations who have generously sponsored the conference, because the diocese has not paid for any of those special treats. And we’re sorry that this year there is no exciting after dinner speaker or entertainment – we felt that too was a cost that we couldn’t justify, and so we encourage you to enjoy each other’s company and to relax with the cost-free entertainments that will be arranged for you. We hope that being without these things won’t spoil your enjoyment of what we confidently expect to be a very worthwhile four days.

I’m writing this message in ‘thank your vicar week’. If you like, see the conference as a kind of thank you week for all of you who come. We hope that you have a great time.

 

Beverley Hollins, Conference Chaplain

on behalf of all the conference planning group

October 2017