Church rates delay fails

DEPUTIES will today decide whether to press ahead with church funding reforms and with it continue a rift with the local Deanery.

DEPUTIES will today decide whether to press ahead with church funding reforms and with it continue a rift with the local Deanery.

They yesterday decided by just one vote to debate proposals by the Parochial and Ecclesiastical Rates Review Committee that have been seven years in the making, which crucially would give the parishes power to sell the rectories.

Also being proposed are boards with parish and church representation to oversee the management of the churches and glebe land.

The Dean has reserved the option of petitioning the Queen should the proposals go through unamended.

Chief Minister Lyndon Trott placed the unsuccessful sursis.

Comments for: "Church rates delay fails"

Jay

Seven years and they dare consider not debating it and making a decision!

Oh sorry, forgot we are talking about politicians. Mostly talk and bluster, unless its a pet project they are interested in. An unfair comment I know for the few genuine politicians. But you can't respect people elected to make decisions and take responsibility, who then don't.

Shame on you Trott. Show some leadership.

Len

Of course the debate should have gone ahead, the sursis was quite rightly defeated, it was an attempt to stifle democratic debate and misguided.

Most States members appeared to misread the alleged seriousness of the possible constitutional crisis that may come from it and Deputy Trott played up to that.

Thank goodness common sense prevailed, just.

Neil

Shabby attempt by the Church to threaten our democratic process and silly of the CM to have even blinked.

Paul Le Page

Of course it should be debated - that's what we elect and pay our Deputies to do. Debate the issues and make decisions - even the ones that are sensitive and potentially constitutionally complex.

If it opens a can of worms so be it. These things are better out in the open so we all know where we stand.

Dave Jones

The question I asked yesterday in the States is “Which takes primacy in this Island, the Church or the State?”

Of course the only answer it can be, is that it has to be the democratically elected government of Guernsey not the Clergy or the Church of England.

I am not trying to wreck the funding arrangements for the churches in any way because I happen to love the Vale Church. It is a thousand years old and as a piece of historical Guernsey architecture it should be protected because of its historical value to the Parish and to the island as a whole.

For that reason, I really don’t mind putting my hand in my pocket to support its upkeep.

I also have no personal axe to grind with the Dean of Guernsey or his role as head of the CofE on Guernsey, he is an honourable man presiding over an ancient office.

I am not a religious man and I respect those who have a different belief but we are not talking about religion we are talking about the fairness of a compulsory funding mechanism that was abolished in other places 150 years ago.

My job as a Deputy is to represent all sections of this community and many parishioners want the issue of the funding of church buildings looked at.

Their parish rates form a significant part of their household expenditure and the Church of England is not a poor institution it is significantly better off than many Guernsey families.

In my view the church should be looking at what it can do to ease the financial burden on parishioners at this time of shrinking incomes and growing expenses.

The Ecclesiastical Court must also be included in any over all review of church funding and no money on my view should go out of this island to the Winchester diocese while parishioners are picking up the ever increasing bills for the Church and the rectories.

If we own the rectories we should maintain the buildings but we should also charge a rent for the occupancy of the rectories to help with the maintenance costs, I see nothing unreasonable in that.

If the Church owns the rectories then they should pay the lion’s share of there maintenance. Which ever is applicable in the Parish concerned?

The Sursis from Lyndon was wrong, not because he didn’t have a duty to bring it as Chief Minister because in that regard he had a right under the mandate of his role as chairman of the Policy Council (ERG) to ask the assembly to take a view on constitutional grounds.

It was wrong in my view because it gave the Clergy, by the threat of a petition to the Crown the effective power to stop legitimate debate through the Sursis.

hobbesvlocke

Yes, agree with all the above.

Note to prospective deputies and invisible current politicians:-

Why not sometimes use this forum as DJ does to get your views across to the electorate on live issues.

Occasionally, you will undoubtedly wish you hadn't. But if you hold sensible views, over time, you will gain more supporters than detractors. And it's good practice for when you might (shock, horror) have to communicate with the public face to face.

In April, I might be faced with a choice of a dozen candidates and I'm a bit hard of thinking - So please help me choose you.

rocquaine

I think this site needs more publicity - when I mention it to people many don't know it is here.

One politician I spoke to said he stopped posting because someone else posted with a user name purporting to be him. That should not happen and is something that should be dealt with by the moderator.

It would also be good if the moderation could be faster to help with the conversation flow. Retrospective moderation would be better, but I guess they are too scared of getting their backside sued.

I too wish more politicians would get on board with it. I would guarantee the engagement Dave Jones has on here will only help his re-election chances imo.

Frankie

Yes must agree with this as well. Spot on comment!

Phil

Dave is of course right with what he says, it is ridiculous to try and stifle democratic debate because of a threat by a priest. Personally I don't want to support the church, and quite frankly I couldn't give a monkeys if all the buildings ended up as apartments. They're only used by a tiny minority of the population on a regular basis, and most of the weddings, christenings and funerals that take place are pretty hypocritical, the vast majority of people in attendance only ever see the inside of a church at these social gatherings.

I find it quite absurd that cash-strapped individuals are forced to contribute to one of the wealthiest organisations in the land, when they don't even believe what that very organisation stands for.

It's crackers, although I guess we oughtn't to be too surprised by that bearing in mind the subject matter.

Martino

I agree with most of your post Dave but I'd go further than you re the rectories, which unlike the churches are NOT ancient buildings with a high heritage value. For me the C of E should be paying the going market rate for renting these buildings from the parishes or they should be offered to the Anglican Church for purchase at the going market rate. If the Church is unhappy with this then those buildings should be put on the market and sold for the benefit of parish (not Church) funds or rented out by the parish. As the existing (non paying) tenants simply give the C of E first refusal.

Also, what was Lyndon on, caving in to those threats by the Dean? Another good argument for total separation of Church and State(s).

Dave Jones

Martino

I hear what you say, Ref the rectories, the problem with the rectories is not so much keeping the buildings wind and water tight, it is the fact that the compulsory funding stretches to things like insulation and central heating, some of the things that the people who are forced to pay cannot afford for their own properties.

The Church ought to be paying for these items, for and on behalf of their clergymen and women.

My other fear is that if the Dean and the synod try and opposes the modest changes needed to ease the burden on parishioners, through threats of Royal petition, then it will trigger a real and sustained backlash from parishioners that could lead to a much more robust set of proposals and more localised action to impede the rise in church expenditure. Their motive will be a lower Parish rate and less expenditure on their houshold budget.

Some parishioners who are openly apposed to compulsory funding are already talking in terms of bussing in many of their supporters to throw out the remede at the annual parish meetings.

It has been mentioned to me that the meetings are often heavily populated by church supporters in order to force the church funding through on the night via the parish vote after which these people leave the meeting not interested in the other Parish bussiness. However these people could very soon find themselves heavily outnumbered by those in the parish who do not want thousands of pounds of ratepayers money spent on the rectory.

This in turn will lead to chaos if the remede is refused by the majority of parishioners and as a result the Church could end up with nothing.

So people are not happy about the current position and the Dean needs to quickly recognise this as a fact and all the appeals to the Crown in the world could not prevent local action if it starts.

Martino

Again, I agree with your analysis Dave, the Dean and Rev Northover and the rest must wake up and smell the coffee or sleepwalk into one helluva backlash from parishioners whose patience is wearing thin.

One thing still troubles me. The rent, or the lack of it they're paying to live in those big rectory buildings. The really should be paying the market rate from now on. I know a group of Open market ressies who between them are paying £60,000 a year to live in a big property in Town. Do you know if the rectories are on the open or local market register?

Elis Bebb

I'm a little surprised at this comment, as you know, the funding of the church will continue, but what is currently being done by one person for free (me in the case of St Peter Port) will now be a committee of seven that have the right to raise funds to pay themselves. In what way does that give better value to the parish?

I also stagger at your comment on the church presence in the parish meeting, I can tell you that the number of people that attend the St Peter Port parish meeting are heavily (and I do mean exceptionally so) outnumbering the regular Sunday congregation.

PERCC will mean more costs to the parish, not less, so you're comment on not funding the church is correct, you'll line the pockets of a number of other people instead.

Finally, the Sursis was raise as the rectors of the ancient parish churches are crown appointments, as such there is a duty to house them, in the same way that the lieutenant governor is a crown appointment and there is a duty to house him in government house. By extension of the logic of asking rent, would you suggest that this be extended to HE?

That's the constitutional problem, the rectories are now subject to crown appointments and the PERCC report is at variance with the crown, constitutionally causing a headache, surely a good reason to ask that it be reviewed?

Paul Le Page

Elis Bebb - thanks for your comments.

You raise an interesting point in respect to rectors and crown appointments. The issue a lot of people have is that the position of the Church of England as a privileged state church is no longer tenable.

A lot of people (both Christians and non-Christians) want to see the historical link between church and state severed in Guernsey. They do not see why they should have to pay to house rectors of churches they have nothing to do with. I think that's a fair comment and one you haven't addressed in your post.

I've said it before, the quicker the church disentangles itself from the state the better. Far from a defeat, I think it's the best thing that could happen to the church as it would allow it to return to the independent apolitical body it was meant to be, rather than being lumbered with all this extra political baggage.

Elis Bebb

The Church of England here in Guernsey is the state church. PERRC doesn't deal with this in any way. It will simply make the established church more expensive for the parishoners.

The church was also never set up an independent church, it was the state church from it's foundation as was the previous state church of Roman Catholicism. Severing the link between church and state is not possible for as long as you have the queen as head of the church and head of state. At this point you open a constitutional challenge.

You state that I'm not dealing with the issue of the church not being a state church, but neither does PERRC and that's what I'm discussing, the proposal by the states to make the running costs more expensive on the parish and more bureaucratic.

Paul Le Page

Elis Bebb

When we talk about the church being independent, I prefer to go back to the origins of the church in the 1st century. If my history is correct I don't believe the link between church and state was ever an issue until the 4th century - and one could argue it's been a thorn in the side of Christianity ever since.

In terms of severing the link between church and state, it is possible. It would require the monarchy to abdicate the role of head of the church - a role in my opinion that should never have been held by a head of state anyway.

As you say though this is not the issue for the PERRC to decide upon. It is an issue for them though as it's because of this link that they've been tasked with cleaning up the mess from centuries of church / state entanglement.

We're now getting into serious constitutional and ecclesiastical debate here though which, although interesting, is probably best left for another time.

Martino

The dean's minion chooses to ignore the substantive issue, which is that the church has been creaming it off the ratepayer/taxpayer through the ecclesiastical court for as long as anyone can remember. And also that we ratepayers have been allowing the church to occupy OUR properties (the rectories) practically scot free. I want to withdraw my subsidy NOW Mr Bebb. Your dean should start paying the market rate or else make way for someone who is prepared to pay a fair market rate. He and the other rectors are taking the p*** and (almost) everyone can see quite clearly now that this is the case.

Elis Bebb

Martino, what would you like to do with the church? The building is there and can be used by anyone, that's one of the advantages of the current system, that the building is available to all. You also forget that it is used frequently by those in great distress at very little cost to the taxpayer. But given that it's a service where someone in a dog collar provides councilling to the most vulnerable in society, I take it that this doesn't count in your book, it's only worth keeping if it's supplied by civil servants?

As for creaming it off the taxpayer, please come and scrutinise the accounts and tell me, where have we creamed off the ratepayer? At what point did the ratepayer not receive the best value for money given that the historic buildings are being cared for at little if no cost? And please don't think that the congregation don't pay some of the costs of upkeep, they also pay the rates and they also pay for the running costs on their own.

Martino

Elis Bebb, please see my post in the other thread. As for creaming it off, you (the Church) are doing it in two ways: depriving the ratepayers/taxpayers of the true market rent for their properties and also through the racket that is the Ecclesiastical Court.

Paul Le Page

Some excellent, balanced reasoning Dave Jones. A dose of common sense.

Sam

Dave Jones

I agree with pretty well everything you say on this subject except.

'The Sursis from Lyndon was wrong, not because he didn’t have a duty to bring it as Chief Minister because in that regard he had a right under the mandate of his role as chairman of the Policy Council (ERG) to ask the assembly to take a view on constitutional grounds.

It was wrong in my view because it gave the Clergy, by the threat of a petition to the Crown the effective power to stop legitimate debate through the Sursis.'

Yes the sursis was wrong!

I listened to the debate and the recorded voting and some of the questions that lyndon was asked and avoided.

I had the impression that this was another Lyndon crusade. Having spoken to the Dean himself (Like the firemen) he went ahead with his own agenda no matter what and now we find , without the mandates of the external relations group or the Policy Council, just as Lyndon Trott Deputy, on behalf of the Church, but he didn't make that plain or answer questions on it properly.

I made a note of the voting on his sursis.

The majority of the external relations group voted against it,so he didn't have their mandate, if I have my counting right.

The Policy Council members were split five for and five against.So he didn't have their mandate.

He deliberately tried to mislead the members by lack of information and scare tactics on constitutional issues.

Many were fooled, luckily by a majority of one common sense prevailed.

Need i say more.

Ray

Sam

No you need not say more

Other people should have the next say in this and other matters,such as the under the counter payments to UK fishermen,gagging orders on sacked teachers,secrecy in Electric Co share sales and a rather unsatisfactory enquiry into the alleged extra private business on the side during away days .. all under his watch

Those people will be the voters in the St Sampsons mini district.Make sure you are on the electoral roll

Dave Jones

Sam

Groups cannot bring a Sursis, it can only come from an individual states member. Secondly he never said it had the backing of the ERG or the PC, he said the ERG had agreed he had a duty as CM and chairman of the ERG to notify the states that the Dean’s threat could spark a constitutional debate at the Privy Council. Don’t get the two things confused.

Which is why I agreed with him, together as did other ERG members on that narrow point but having agreed he had a duty to notify the States of the Procuruer’s advice to the ERG on this matter, several of us did not agree that the debate should be delayed for further consultation with the Church which is basically what the Sursis said.

Martino

I think they are all local market but I will check.

Sam

Ray

don't worry I am and i know who i will not be voting for.

Dave Jones,

The individual may bring the sursis, but as it is the Chief Minister bringing it in this case and it appears that it is not backed either by the external relations group, who i thought were responsible for external affairs, or the policy Council and the procurer's advice if you read between the lines was not that the subject could not be debated,in fact he remaind very neutral on the subject.

The sursis was to stop democratic debate, in my opinion that was irresponsible to say the least.

But as i said it was lost and common sense only just prevailed. No thanks to the Chief Minister.

hobbesvlocke

Sam, I agree with you.

I don't know why the CM used up so much political capital on this matter ahead of the Election. IMHO and I stand to be corrected, Church funding is important to some of the electorate but not to the majority. Yet the sursis made it a huge issue.

And it's perhaps a bit odd to call for a sursis and then support the proposals anyway.

hobbesvlocke

And yet, in a way, it might prove politically astute.

The States has called the Dean's bluff. It is more difficult for the Dean to pursue his petitioning threat, given that it would now be against the demonstrated wishes of a democratic assembly.

Sam

Dave Jones

Oh just one more thing, why was a sursis necessary? The Procurer's advice could be conveyed direct to States members at the beginning of the debate, which of course is what happened and that advice did not say the matter could not be debated.

There was a hidden agenda here.

Dave Jones

Sam,

That is true but you need a proposition that states members can vote on to defer debate.

HMP just standing up and giving his advice cannot stop debate.

The Sursis agenda was to send PERRC back for more talks almost half the States agreed with that and the Sursis was lost by two votes.

Once that had been lost members then voted to press on with the report and voted it through.

Sam

Of course you would need a proposition, but I take it that if the procurer suggested that there was a serious problem with the States continuing debate at that stage, a proposition would be forthcoming.

He didn't , he took a fairly benign stance.

Dave Jones

Sam

Again I repeat, the ERG members were quite happy that the CM informed the States of the percieved constitutional risks, it was in fact his duty to do so but it was up to him personaly if he felt that the sursis would be supported enough to send the two sides back for further talks. The Sursis had nobody elses name on it other than his and his seconder Dep Stephens so he wasn't pretending it was from anyone else.

I and other ERG members did not support that view but half of the States did support the CM so he was not wrong to take the Sursis but as I said, I and other could not support it.

Sam

Dave Jones,

By some of the attempts to question the Chief Minister, it was obvious that many members, early on, did not realize that this was just a Deputy Trott sursis,and felt that it had the backing of ERG and the Policy Council. That was obvious to anyone listening in.

It was not until later in debate and after various questions that one started to realize that this sursis in fact was one individuals idea, not even seconded by a member of the policy Council or ERG, but Deputy Stephens from the floor. Why ? Did no one on Policy Council or ERG have any faith in the Sursis?

I don't wish to prolong this debate,I have aired my views as I see it having listened to the debate and you have yours.

Dave Jones

Sam

The law officers would be extremely reluctant to put forward a proposition on what was purely a political matter; they have to stay out of the politics of it all and only advise on any legal aspects, which is why the Sursis could only come from a Deputy.

As for the PC, when the PERRC report came to PC it was discussed just like any other report and it was agreed by PC members that it should go forward for debate. During those discussions there were varying degrees of opinion around the table and it was clear that members of the PC would be making their individual views clear on the day.

The PC is NOT a Cabinet and does not behave like one, it is up to individual members what stance they take on a particular matter and vote accordingly.

The confusion came from the fact that the CM told the states that in his role as Chairman of the ERG which has responsibility for constitutional matters, the ERG had been advised by HMP that the issue of the Deans threat of petitioning HMQ had to be pointed out to States members, together with any possible ramifications of that threat.

HMP also advised the ERG and subsequently the States that the sensible way forward given his advice was to pull the report for further discussion, on the day and on balance, some members of the PC and the ERG disagreed and voted as they did.

Lyndon thought that the will of the States ought to be tested on the matter and laid the Sursis and you can’t argue that it was not well supported, although it lost by a narrow margin.

In doing so he had fulfilled his obligation as Chairman of the ERG to try and defer the report, however the States took a different view and that, as they say is democracy.

Sam

Dave Jones,

Firstly my suggestion was not that the Procurer should place a proposal, I don't believe that would be in the rules. A member of the States could have placed a proposal after hearing the Procurer's advice, I think you misunderstood. There was no need for a sursis

I never heard the procurer tell the States that the report should be pulled. I found his advice leaned towards, that there was no real problem having a debate on the subject. The Constitutional issue wasn't as bad as was being portrayed. (my words not his)

Len

I think Peter Roffey had it weighed up in his comment column.

'I wonder what has spooked Deputy Trott so much. Why didn’t he raise his concerns earlier? Why does the last-minute proposal to delay the long overdue PERRC report seemingly come from him personally rather than the Policy Council? His ludicrous suggestion that asking the Queen-in-Council to approve the proposed changes could mar jubilee year is so utterly risible that it’s deeply worrying that such tosh could come from our top politician.'

Dave Jones

Sam ?

I am sorry you have lost me, a member of the states DID lay a proposal and that proposal was to defer debate. It was laid by way of a Sursis, which is designed to do just that.

HMP was quite clear in his advice and that was that to avoid the Privy Council failing to ratify any new law, it would be better to revisit the proposals and enter into further dialogue with the Church.

I also detect from your posts that you are a States member (I have an idea which one) and you were there on the day so you know full well what HMP’s advice was.

Sam

Dave jones,

No, not a states member, or ever have been, but i did listen to the debate carefully and I think we just took different interpretations on HMP's advice. Actually there was so much of it, it really depended on which scenario you wanted to chose. Yours above was one, although I think if he had given it as clear as you have written it, the Chief Minister's sursis may have won.

It was because of his rather neutral stance (which is exactly what I would expect from him) and that debate was not necessarily going to plung Guernsey into a constitutional crisis, that allowed common sense to prevail.

I heard the Dean on the radio this morning and it sounded very much as though he never intended his comments to be taken in the manner that the Chief Minister's sursis intimated.

Sean McManus

Like Sam, I took note of Canon Mellor's carefully calibrated comments in his interview with Radio Guernsey.

Having heard his entirely reasonable remarks, I am left feeling that the Sursis was quite unnecessary. This becomes even more pertinent in light of today's GP editorial.

I do not complain about the right of the two St Sampson's Deputies to bring a Sursis. Rather, the overblown presentation seemed calculated to engender a level of concern among members of the Assembly which does not appear to have been warranted by the stance of the Deanery.

All credit to Deputy Tom Le Pelley for his calm and considerate handling of the matter in the States and to Deputy Shane Langlois for his detailed refutation of each component of the Trott Sursis.

The Craft

Does anyone know if Canon Mellor is a Freemason? Surely that couldn't have anything to do with Lyndon's stance on this issue?

markB

Or could it be Reverend Trott in the future

gsyman

Don't think Canon Mellor is a member of the Funny Handshake Club.

Maybe Trotsky was worried a petition to The Queen would scupper his chances of an OBE?

Elis Bebb

I honestly could weep at some of the comments here. I have devoted the last six years to the maintenance of the town church to have people suggest that it would be better converted into appartments. Do none of you care for the island's heritage? The endless attack against church and yet complaining about the breakdown in society (I only have to walk through town on a Friday or Saturday night to note how bad it's become).

I've done all of my work for the past six years with no recompense, but PERRC will allow a committee of seven people to raise funds to pay for their own costs? Since when does that sound like a cost saving initiative? I also feel that this committe of seven, with their remit to increase the use of the buildings have no responsibility to ensure that the usage is proper and takes into account the other activities within the building. So we could end up with the building being allowed for use on a Saturday night, but no responsiblility to ensure that it is cleaned and put back to good order in time for the Sunday services.

It is ill conceived and does not look at the additional costs that the parish will incur as a result of the proposals.

By the way, this committee of seven, I've yet to find enough people to assist me in running the building, who do we honestly believe will be willing to volunteer their time now? where are these wonderful people that are evidently so interested in the buildings that they will devote their time to the maintenance and usage of it? If they're out there I'd like to know where?

What a mess. Thank you Dave Jones, I don't think that you realise what you've voted in.

Also can I correct your assertion that this is a system abolished in other places 150 years ago, incorrect, I think that you'll find the funding of church buildings in France to be through the central tax system,the same applies in Germany, and I'd also ask you to note that both of them are devoted secular states with complete seperation of church and state.

Phil

That is one of the problems Elis, in Guernsey the church and state are not separated, if the church want to give us back the tens of millions that they've taken in ecclesiastical court fees, then maybe we could chuck them a few crumbs back.

Elis Bebb

I think that you'll note that there's a lot less money spent on the churches in Guernsey than there is on the churches in France and the reason for this being that Guernsey has (or rather soon to be had) a far more cost effective means of maintaining the churches.

As for Ecclesiastical court fees, do you think that there's another body that would do this work for less money? The truth is that the states would be far more inefficient in their work. Finally, please remember that the church provides a service to a number of people without being paid, would you like to start putting rector's time for counselling non church members and dealing with very serious social issues of domestic problems on the states payroll? Just think how much more money that would cost the island. It's not a one way street, it's a service that you've chosen not to make use of, in the same way that I chose not to make use of education (I have no children) or health (I have my own private medical insurance). I don't complain about paying for those, why do you complain about something that is of value to society but you chose not to use?

Paul Le Page

Ellis - I think I've pretty much exhausted this debate now but may I leave you with this thought.

I totally agree that the Christian church provides a valuable service to the community. However, when writing to the Corinthians about giving financial support to the church, St Paul said:

"Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

No matter how eloquent the arguments it seems abundantly clear to me that a significant number of islanders are being compelled to financially support the church and do so extremely reluctantly.

How do we as the church justify the current situation in light of this teaching? I simply do not see how we can.

Phil

Elis

You really don't get it do you?

If this archaic situation still exists when I come to inherit anything (which is hopefully a very long way away) I will refuse to pay the money to the ecclesiastical court and will happily take the case to the European courts in order to protest about being forced to pay money to a church that I have no belief whatsoever in. How would you feel if you had to pay the local mosque for such a "service"?

It has absolutely nothing to do with efficiency and everything to do with being given no choice but to pay fees to a disgustingly rich organisation that seems completely at odds with the principles that it professes to preach. Cash seems to be their king.

Elis Bebb

Paul,

Please don't quote Paul too much, we as anglicans take a three pronged approach to religion basing our belief on scripture, reason and tradition. Hence the reason that you'll see varying views on the funding of the church. Paul also states that for a woman to pray without covering her head is an abomination, we don't follow scripture to the letter as we're Christians, not Muslims.

Phil,

If I lived in a muslim country I'm sure that I wouldn't have much choice but to pay for these services in whatever manner has evolved over the centuries there. Equally here, we have a state church as we live in a Christian country. Before you complain about that, just remember that your freedoms are only derived from being in a Christian country, I doubt that the same freedoms would be available to you in an atheist state such as China or a muslim state such as Saudi. By the way, if the church were so rich, why do you think that we're reducing the number of rectors on the island, why do you think we'd be constantly battling to pay our running costs, why do you think that we're constantly fund raising? It's just not true, there is no real great wealth there, I know as I see the church accounts on a regular basis. I'm also unsure as to what variance there is with preaching and practice, we preach giving, but not just to the church, to the wider community and abroad.

You must also recognise that I pay taxes to an organisation that I disagree with it's means of doing business and it's ethos. It's a tax, no one likes paying any tax, but it's how we pay for the services that are made available to the whole of society.

Paul Le Page

Elis - for "too much" read once. As you say though, we're Christians, not Muslims and yet the compulsory paying of rates to the Ecclesiastical Court and parish church rates are no better than the jizya imposed by Islamic states on non-Muslims.

If by "reason and tradition" you mean you are content to hold on to an archaic system that forces unbelievers like Phil and Martino to fund the church (through rates and the Ecclesiastical Court) then I for one am hugely grateful I'm not an Anglican on Guernsey - I would be ashamed to look them in the face and claim to represent Christ, knowing that I was using ancient and outdated laws as leverage, forcing them to fund my worship.

Anyway, that argument doesn't hold water as you cannot use "reason and tradition" to justify the local system. Despite being the "state church" in England, compulsory state funding for parish churches was ditched in the 19th century and yet they still manage to raise the £1,000 million it requires to keep the 16,000 odd churches running every year.

As for tradition, these remain alive and kicking in England. The Bishops still have seats in the Lords, 85% of the UK population visit an Anglican church once a year, the royal wedding was held in an Anglican cathedral, the Queen is still head of the CofE. Church of England schools educate over 1 million pupils.

If the spiritual home of the Anglican church doesn't get compulsory state funding reason says surely it's high time Guernsey followed suit? I simply can't see any downsides to scrapping the system - in fact I see a church with far greater spiritual integrity. A church that offers it's services to the community and asks nothing in return except the freedom to practice and preach it's faith. Yes a few smaller parish churches may close and amalgamate into larger congregations, but that would just bring it in line with the rest of the UK anyway. The only reason we still have so many parish churches on Guernsey is because they're still being artificially funded.

Your arguments, although eloquent, are paper thin and sound more like the desperate bleating of a spoiled child who has just realised Mummy isn't giving them pocket money to play any more and they have to fend for themselves. I apologise if my words sound a bit "un-Christian" to some however this embarrassment has gone on long enough. It's time we thought more about the kind of message we as Christians are sending to unbelievers and less about our own self-interest.

Paul

I'm sorry Elis, with respect, the only valid comparison for the Church of England should be , what are the arrangements in England? For you to compare what France or Germany ( really!) is totally wrong. You have to acknowledge that the vast majority of Guernsey feel hard done by. The fabric of the buildings themselves is a good argument as they clearly are historic monuments and as such should be the responsibility of us all. However what most of us are really upset about is providing the rectories and all the running costs. I do appreciate what you and the other hundreds or even thousands of Guernsey folk do voluntarily in all sorts of areas.

Elis Bebb

Paul,

The comparison with France is valid since that's the basis for Guernsey law, it is derived from Norman law and let's face it, we don't use the UK norm in a number of our legislation, indeed we don't consider it appropriate, so I'd question why the comparison only with the UK. I'd also ask you to consider how much money is paid for the upkeep of the UK churches, they do receive a large amount of subsidies and payments from the heritage departments, but of course, this is hidden in the whole income tax and other form of taxation that they pay, it isn't a clear system such as that which we have in Guernsey.

I'm surprised about this feeling of being hard done by, at each parish meeting I receive comments from one person that isn't supportive of the church, but even he doesn't object to the remede (or rather hasn't to date).

The running costs aren't paid for by the parish, the Sunday congregation pay the running costs of water, electricity, heating, some items of maintenance. These running costs extend to maintenance of the building as I'm sure that it's evident that the heating of the building goes a long way to ensure the good standing of the building by avoiding damp problems. The parish also doesn't pay for any of the ecclesiastical items or replacements of those.

With regards to the rectories, please remember that the rectors are paid for from the congregation, but supply a service to the parish as a whole. If the states were to be charged for the amount of counslling work that they do I'm sure that we'd all be up in arms.

I don't use certain states departments, but I don't moan, why is it that this service, used by a large number of the parish, is suddenly under scrutiny because it doesn't fit a small secular view?

Paul Le Page

It's really quite simple Elis: the church is not a States department.

The Anglican church does a fine job in England without equivalent state funding, so kindly stop using thinly veiled threats that this service will stop if public funding dries up.

Elis Bebb

Paul,

Please have a look at the following website http://www.culture.gov.uk/what_we_do/historic_environment/3332.aspx as you'll note the department of culture had to move £23 Million forward to meet the demand on the Listed Place of Worship scheme that pays for a lot of the church buildings. As I said, the UK does pay for church buildings, it's just so poorly transparent that most people don't even know that tneir tax goes to pay for it. The Guernsey scheme allows complete transparency with no expensive bureaucracy.

Please also note that the church of england (as well as other denominations) frequently state that the government funding for places of worship is one of the worst in Europe, resulting in greater costs overall as they wait for the churches to fall into desperate states of disrepair before being addressed, in turn increasing the total bill.

Paul Le Page

Elis - I've taken a look as promised. The website makes it clear that the £23 million for claims was a one off measure due to the large number of claims resulting from the upcoming policy change.

The LPW budget is around £7million this year, in future years it will have a fixed budget of £12million. You will also note the comment: "The measures we have introduced this year will ensure that the scheme does not overspend in the future."

You will also notice rectories aren't covered by the scheme, it only covers listed church buildings. I also looked at this website from the CofE itself:

http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats/funding.aspx

I quote: "Maintenance of church buildings and new building work costing in the region of £160 million per year."

This is funded by the income received by the Church of England, not by public funds. So, given that the public funding scheme has been capped at £12m, public funds will amount to 7.5% of total building costs for the CofE.

So, it is abundantly clear that public funds do NOT fund English parish churches in the same way that we do here in Guernsey.

If we were to adopt a similar system here I'm sure most islanders would be happy for public funds to contribute towards keeping the island's historic buildings in good repair, including parish churces.

It seems pretty clear though that they don't want to front all the costs, neither do they want to fund the rectories.

Paul Le Page

Elis - in reference to the LPW scheme you will also notice this:

"The maximum grant payable in response to any application will be 20% of project costs (i.e. the maximum payable will be the full rate of VAT incurred on eligible expenditure) and the scope continues as it has been since 4 January"

So, any maintenance project for a listed church building will only receive a maximum of 20% project costs - meaning the CofE will need to find the extra 80%.

Again, this proves that the vast majority of parish church funding comes from the CofE and not the public.

Phil

Elis

I give up, it appears that your belief in the church being given cash is as strong as any other belief that you may have. I don't often quote the bible, but Jeremiah 5:21 seems quite appropriate in this instance......

Elis Bebb

I believe that it's as strong as your position. We're all entitled to them.

I see a lot of what is done by the churches and feel that it is little understood or valued. I simply note that a lot of the work (as you'd expect and is appropriate) is done in secret. As a result of the work being done in secret, the resultant opinion, as is evident on these pages, is that the church does little for society as a whole. I simply don't agree.

Paul Le Page

This really is an interesting debate!

Me agreeing with Peter Roffey and Phil quoting the Bible!

Elis - thanks for the link above, will take a look.