Parish Share

Parish Share is the common pot of money used to support ministry and mission in each parish across the Diocese of Bristol.

By giving through Parish Share, every church is sharing in providing vital ministry in every community, even those that might not otherwise be able to afford it.

Why is Parish Share so important?

Each year, your gift helps volunteers to run youth groups, visit lonely people and provide food banks, amongst other amazing work. This is what your faithful giving - and the generosity of your parishioners - makes possible. We understand that finances remain a struggle for some, but it has been heartening to see the desire of all parishes to support each other. Parish Share provides a real opportunity to put our faith into practice, and to be encouraged by working together. We have faith that God will provide all we need for His mission through the generosity of his people.



Resources for you

This year, where possible, we have made the decision to go paperless with our Parish communications. The decision comes as part of our communication strategy, which is designed to align to our ‘Transforming Church. Together.’ strategy’s vision, mission and values. Our transformative programme of work seeks to ensure that the diocese and its parishes become environmentally and financially sustainable. We believe that responding to the climate crisis is an essential part of our responsibility to safeguard God's creation and achieve a just world, which makes our Net Zero targets very important to us.  With this in mind, all resources have now moved online. 

Download the 2024 Parish Share booklet Download the 2023 Parish Share poster

Download the 2023 Parish Share webinar

Our calculations for 2024 are based on the same model as our 2023 requests, which aimed to make the calculations simpler and more transparent. It has been based on income adjusted stipendary costs and income adjusted shared costs. We are asking parishes whose calculation has dropped to remain generous, as their support is greatly needed. We are also providing transitional support for parishes whose calculation has increased, to give them time to reach the level of the new request. Please do make use of the support and the resources that the stewardship team can provide. 

Last year, we held a webinar to answer your Parish Share calculation queries (20 minute presentation followed by 20 minute Q&A), which may still be of use to you. 

Watch the webinar Download the slides

What can you do?

Your Parish Share request holds more information about the context and expectation of your individual parish.

  • Prayerfully discuss your Parish Share request as a PCC, considering what it means for you to give generously to our shared ministry. We ask every parish to also send a short message of encouragement with their response, that can be shared with other parishes. 
  • Contact Harrison Leonard, Director of External Relations, if you'd like to discuss stewardship or Parish Share issues in your parish's context.
  • Tell your story: We want to celebrate God's goodness to us, whether it is a story of generosity given, or generosity received. Generosity is one of our core values - so let's hear your stories!


Ministry costs from 2018
A visual representation of the cost of ministry. N.B. Data is from 2018 but breakdown of costs remains similar.

How is the Diocese funded?

The Bristol Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF) stewards a major proportion of the overall resources generated and spent on mission and ministry through our churches, schools and partners. DBF funds clergy, support and training for parishes, ministers and schools and our responsibilities to the national Church of England.

Download a guide on church funding sources   

Diocesan budgets and accounts


Frequently Asked Questions

The calculation is designed to be fair and affordable. Each parish is asked to give enough to cover their stipendiary costs, plus a small proportion of their income towards shared costs. The costs are adjusted according to average local household income, any low income community funding, and - where appropriate - diocesan transitional funding (see pp5-6 for more detail). If the Parish Share amount is unaffordable, even after the parish has done all it can to increase income, then it may be that the level of stipendiary support needs to be looked at. Where building costs are an issue, then the stewardship advisers can provide help on applying for grants. If the costs of maintaining a church building are unsustainable, then this is a matter for discussion with the archdeacons.
Small churches are usually part of a multi-parish benefice, and we'd encourage parishes across the benefice to work out what they can all contribute, and support the smaller parishes. Having listened to your feedback, we are not sending out benefice-wide requests this year.
The largest churches (with income at 1.5x average or above) are given information that enables them to see their calculated costs, plus an extra 10% suggested contribution, but many give far more than that. The new transparent calculation allows them to be much clearer with their congregation about the level of support that they are providing to less well-off parishes, and so we can say thank you more directly. In one or two cases, there are larger churches who are not giving at the same level. The new calculation gives them a figure that is commensurate with what other large churches are giving, so that the request is fair and transparent. Note that a few churches have an income larger than average but less than 1.5 x the average. They get a tapered request for an extra suggested contribution, so that they don’t suddenly receive a larger request when they hit 1.5 x average income.
Giving more is a natural expression of thankfulness for God’s blessing. We follow Paul’s instructions in 2 Cor 8:13,14: Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality. We are thankful that our parishes who give out of their abundance do so joyfully, and we hope that making the calculations clearer will enable us to celebrate their generosity much more directly.
Some parishes will struggle to reach their calculated amount of parish share. The new approach helps them to realise what a realistic and fair Parish Share should be. These figures help the parish and the Archdeacons to make better appraisals about the future sustainability of the parish, and what adjustments need to be made. All parishes are expected to move towards their new amount, so there shouldn’t be parishes that are kept going without intervention.
Church income is based on unrestricted income averaged over the previous four years, as reported in Parish Returns. It does NOT include grants or legacies, and also takes off the cost of trading. Therefore, it is important that the costs of running a pre-school, for example, are included in costs of when completing your Parish Returns. Where there is a very significant LEP cost, we also take this off the income amount for the purposes of working out the calculation for shared costs/large churches. We do realise that all parishes are different, and that using church income as the basis for calculating shared costs isn’t perfect. However, it is the fairest and simplest method. Most of a Parish Share request is the cost of stipendiary ministry, so variations in income will make relatively little difference to most calculations anyway.
The poorest communities are supported in three ways: 1. The stipendiary cost is adjusted according to local household income, so those in richer areas contribute more and those in poorer areas less. But this only adjusts a maximum of about a third (up or down). 2. Low Income Community Funds are allocated according to need by the Archdeacons to the poorest 20% of our communities. 3. Many parishes are giving over and above their calculated amount, and this goes into ministry support for poorer parishes via transitional funding. We hope that over the years this transitional funding will reduce so that more parishes will be able to reach their Parish Share request (which will still be adjusted by local household income).
To keep the calculation simple and transparent, we do not take SSMs and LLMs into account in the costs of stipendiary ministry but acknowledge that some parishes are very blessed by having an SSM or LLM. In some parishes this may mean that their costs for stipendiary ministry are lower than they might otherwise be. In this case, the parish may be able to contribute more than they are asked for – for which we are incredibly grateful.
Curates are still in training and so are not expected to fulfil the whole role of a minister. Once they are trained, they are available to any parish in need of a vicar, and so the whole church does benefit. Saying that, several of our curates are in larger churches and make a significant contribution to ministry there, and so we encourage our larger churches to make an extra contribution where they are able.
There was broad support from parishes and clergy for taking reserves into account, but this is a complex area and so it does not currently affect the calculation. However, if a parish not meeting Parish Share (so is subsidised by others), also has large reserves, we will now draw attention to this.
You can read the reserves policy in the Diocesan annual accounts. The Diocese holds six months of running reserves, as generally recommended for an organisation of its size. Some reserves are held in trust on behalf of others and cannot be spent. The main bulk of diocesan reserves are invested to produce income that significantly reduces the amount that parishes are required to give in Parish Share. So all parishes benefit directly from diocesan reserves.
The calculation is based on the costs when a post is filled, so we don’t reduce Parish Share during a vacancy. A parish’s recent and current Parish Share commitments are shared with potential incumbents, so dropping Parish Share could make it harder to fill the post. All parishes go through a vacancy at some point, so any savings will even out over time. If a parish has difficulty paying Parish Share during a vacancy, then please speak to the Archdeacons, who are there to help and provide support.
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