Rev Jon Hartley gave a video presentation on the work of the Board of Trustees in the last year. He described how the Diocesan Council appoints the Board, and how one of the Council’s responsibilities is the alignment of its work, the work of the Board, and the mission of the Church.
The Board’s role is to manage invested funds on behalf of the diocese and other bodies within the diocese, and to be trustee of the majority of diocesan property. Jon highlighted that there is a significant chunk of liquid assets and property within the diocese that is not managed by the Board.
In the last year, the Board moved management of its funds to an external fund manager. This has allowed the Board to reduce compliance and governance risk and increase transparency of the funds under management.
Jon discussed some challenges faced by the Board. Of the money managed by the Board, there is a minority that actually belongs to the diocese – as opposed to parties such as parishes and other trusts. This amount is currently sitting below the ideal level that the Board has been asked to hold for the diocesan budget.
On the property front, Jon explained that across the large property portfolio managed by the Board, there is little to no economic return across the portfolio. Given also the poor state of the property due to deferred maintenance and seismic risks, the Board does not consider this an adequate scenario.
Jon challenged Synod members to consider how they might manage this portfolio if it were their own house or property. He also asked how this property portfolio and asset base might help us to realise the vision and mission of the diocese – to be a transformative movement of joyful and loving local faith communities. He suggested that if it doesn’t, then we should consider what we might do to begin realising that vision and mission.
He acknowledged the challenges we face in the future, including the pressure on the diocesan budget, and the question of what it means to be good stewards of the resources we have been entrusted with. He suggested we should be willing to take a few risks and learn some lessons, to challenge some sacred cows, and to consider how our assets can advance the mission of the church.