Guided Pledge

What is Parish Share?

Parish Share is the income given by all parishes towards resourcing the mission and ministry of the Church of England in the Diocese of Durham. It’s a commitment from every congregation to ensure that the work of the Church, of which we are all a part, reaches into every community, helping us to reflect God’s own abundant generosity as every parish gives, and every parish receives.

What is Guided Pledge?

Historically the cost of ministry and diocesan support was invoiced to parishes based on an allocation by the diocese. When the then Bishop Justin became Bishop of Durham in 2011, he introduced a pledge-based parish share system whereby no invoices were issued but every parish was asked to make a generous pledge based on not only what it considered to be an appropriate amount but also a commitment to deliver this. In the years that followed parishes were asked to increase their parish share pledges thoughtfully and generously and by at least 5%. However, the value of parish share has declined by 37% in real terms over the last 20 years, and Bishop’s Council recognised that a long-term solution was required. In 2021 the Guided Pledge System (GPS) was introduced.

The GPS remains pledge based, meaning each parish is still free to decide what it chooses to contribute. However, PCCs are guided by a figure calculated using the data associated with each parish. The data used is:

  • The Indices of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) score of the parish – this is based on data collected through the National Census, mapped to parishes by the Church Urban Fund
  • The stipendiary ministry allocated to each parish in their latest Deanery Plan
  • The people in the parish (usual Sunday attendance, electoral roll, population) – like the IMD data, parish population comes from the Census. The electoral roll and usual Sunday attendance figures come from data entered into the Statistics for Mission (SFM) return completed by each parish
  • The financial resources of the parish (annual income and reserves averaged over recent years) – this comes from the Return of Parish Finance (RPF) completed by each parish.

These figures are always based on the most recent available, that is the IMD and population comes from the latest reports released by the Church of England Statistics Unit and the Church Urban Fund, while the SFM and RPF data are based on the latest data provided by the parish. For example, the Guided Pledge calculated for 2024, which parishes will consider during October 2023, will be based on their SFM and RPF for 2022.

These numbers are loaded into the formula each year, the calculation is then run and an Unadjusted Guided Pledge (UGP) is created for each parish. The calculation is such that the sum of these UGPs is what the diocesan budget requires to fund ministry over the forthcoming year.

However, three safeguards are applied to produce the final Guided Pledge:

  • if the UGP is higher than 65% of the parish’s annual income, and the parish has less than 12 months' income in Unrestricted Reserves, the GP is capped at 65% of the parish’s income.
  • If the UGP is less than the parish’s actual contribution in the previous year, the GP is adjusted to last year’s contribution plus an inflationary increase so that the pledge remains the same in real terms. This reflects the ‘mutuality’ by which parishes that are able to give more than the pledge would require are able to help contribute to the share of those who are unable to meet the guided pledge.
  • If the UGP is more than 200% of the ministry cost (see appendix 2 of the 2023 Guided Pledge Review) of a parish, the pledge is capped at this level. This reflects that whilst mutuality is encouraged, there is a limit to how much can be expected of parishes which also need to invest in their own work.
  • Otherwise, the GP is the calculated UGP.

A Working Group, appointed by the Bishop’s Council, has considered the operation of the GPS since its introduction. You can read the 2023 Guided Pledge Review, which considers the first three years of the GPS and has made a number of recommendations about its future use.

The Working Group would greatly appreciate it if churches could share this information regarding the Guided Pledge with their congregations. Please click here for an example parish newsletter article, should you wish to include something similar in your own newsletter.

The Revd Richard Briggs (St. Nics Durham) and the Revd Tim Wall (Hetton Lyons with Eppleton) describe why they believe parish share is vital to mission and ministry across the Diocese.



An Excel spreadsheet containing the Guided Pledge calculation can be download here

You can view the Diocesan Income vs Expenditure for 2022 here

Powered by Church Edit