Anglicans urged to fund bishop

The Anglican Church in Dunedin is asking its parishioners to donate the cost of a cup of coffee each week towards retaining a bishop in the city.

The church faces a problem, in part historic, after a 19th-century split with the Christchurch diocese meant a trust fund was never fully established to maintain payment for the role.

In May, the Rt Rev Dr Kelvin Wright announced his intention to retire at Easter next year, and raised questions about whether the Dunedin diocese should replace him.

He said at the time there needed to be "some very careful thought'' about how to pay for episcopal ministry in the future.

The issue was financial.

It was questionable whether the diocese could afford a fulltime bishop in Dunedin.

The church this week called on parishioners to give a weekly contribution for five years "equivalent to a cup of coffee'', which it suggested was about $3.

That would mean the diocese could appoint a bishop knowing the salary would be assured.

Vicar-general Alec Clark said fundraising to keep the bishop in a salary was not new.

"We're always raising funds.''

But the diocese had to be able to say with confidence before it employed someone it could "employ them beyond next week''.

"Our diocese has the misfortune that it was spun off from the Christchurch diocese in its early days.''

It separated from Christchurch in 1869.

Usually, a diocese would have sufficient trust funds to be able to fund a bishop.

"When the separation between Christchurch and Dunedin came about I suspect that our forebears were keener on having the separation than they were on following all the details.''

The funds were not forthcoming from Christchurch for a full endowment for a bishop.

"Throughout the life of the diocese, we have consistently been having to make appeals for extra funding to make sure the position of the bishop is secure,'' the Rev Canon Clark said.

He said the diocese was looking for a short-term injection while the longer term was considered.

The Dunedin church, like other main-line churches in New Zealand and the Western world, was "in a very different place from where we were 50 years ago''.

He said that was exciting, as there was a possibility to explore what "God is inviting us in to'' and a challenge to understand God and the life of the church.

"The whole point of church is to help us do the stuff that God asks us to do, which is to love and serve the communities in which we live.''

david.loughrey@odt.co.nz

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