State of the congregations
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STATE OF THE CONGREGATIONS. Our Future. State of the Congregations of the Diocese of Rhode Island. Purpose: To review the financial condition of the parishes in order to understand our need to find a way to vitality. Healthy Congregations are the Foundation of a Healthy Diocese.

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State of the congregations


Our Future

State of the congregations of the diocese of rhode island

State of the Congregations of the Diocese of Rhode Island


To review the financial condition of the parishes in order to understand our need to find a way to vitality

Healthy congregations are the foundation of a healthy diocese

Healthy Congregations are the Foundation of a Healthy Diocese

  • Churches provide 62% of Diocesan income

  • Therefore, the trends that affect individual churches will affect the Diocese

Trends to watch

Trends to Watch

  • Average Sunday Attendance (ASA)

  • Pledge & Plate

  • Draws on Endowment

Asa 2003 2009

ASA 2003-2009

  • Percentage decline 2003-2009 = 28.2%

  • Percentage decline 1999-2009 = 29.9%

Total pledge plate for all churches in the diocese

Total Pledge & Plate for All Churches in the Diocese

Keeping up with inflation no

Keeping up with inflation? No

Running faster to stay in place

Running Faster to Stay in Place

  • By 2009 the Average Episcopal Parish in Rhode Island needed to cut 20% of its budgeted expenses just to stay even to pay the same set of bills it had in 2003.

Ten largest percentage draws

Ten largest percentage draws

  • Ascension, Cranston39%$ 39,5772.6 yrs

  • Cathedral, Providence28%$250,0003.6 yrs

  • Trinity, Cranston24%$ 85,6154.1 yrs

  • St. Mary’s, E. Prov.17%$ 23,6405.7 yrs

  • Transfiguration, Cran.13%$134,2967.5 yrs

  • St. John’s, Barrington12%$211,7668.5 yrs

  • St. David’s, Cranston12%$ 40,8888.2 yrs

  • St. Paul’s, Pawtucket12%$397,4568.0 yrs

  • St. George’s, C.F.11%$ 14,5349.1 yrs

  • All Saints, Providence10%$ 140,9109.9 yrs

    Total Revenue of Endowed Funds$1,338,682 X 17% = $227,575

    Apportionment Revenue at Risk when restricted funds are reached

Churches with draws on endowment 20 of operating revenue

Churches with draws on endowment > 20% of operating revenue

  • St. Paul’s, Pawtucket72.8%

  • St. Stephen’s, Providence67.8%

  • St. Michael’s, Bristol65.9%

  • All Saints, Providence64.1%

  • Cathedral of St. John64.0%

  • St. James, Woonsocket62.8%

  • Transfiguration, Cranston57.6%

  • Grace, Providence49.2%

  • Redeemer, Providence43.5%

  • St. Mary’s, East Providence40.1%

  • Trinity, Cranston39.1%

  • St Mary’s, Portsmouth38.1%

  • St. Mark’s, Riverside34.4%

  • St. John’s, Barrington32.1%

  • St. Martin’s, Providence29.4%

  • Ascension, Cranston25.4%

  • St. Francis, Coventry24.6%

  • St. David’s, Cranston20.3%

Are we covering our costs

Are we covering our costs?

ChurchExpense/AttendeeAverage PledgeDifference

St Paul’s, Pawtucket$5,407$1,046-$4,361

All Saints, Providence $4,782 $1,610 -$3,172

Grace, Providence $4,091 $1,443 -$2,648

St. Michael’s, Bristol $3,934 $1,176 -$2,758

Trinity, Newport $3,869 $1,523 -$2,346

St. Stephen’s, Providence $3,631 $1,471 -$2,184

Emmanuel, Newport $3,568 $1,615 -$1,953

St. James, Woonsocket $3,435 $ 826 -$2,609

St. John’s, Barrington$3,233$1,699-$1,534

All Saint’s, Providence$3,201$1,610-$1,591

Plus many more…

No Church in the Diocese that has a full time priest covers it’s budget with pledge and plate.

Breakeven analysis for episcopal parishes with full time pastoral care

Breakeven Analysis for Episcopal Parishes with full-time Pastoral Care


  • $80,000-$100,000 Pastoral Care (full time Priest)

  • $20,000-$30,000 Heat, Light, Water, Minor Repairs, Sexton

  • $15,000Part-time office person

  • $10,000Music

  • $5,000Miscellaneous Expenses

  • $20,000Diocesan Apportionment

  • $160,000TOTAL


  • Average Pledge: $1,600 X 100 Pledge Units = $160,000

Back of the envelope

Back of the Envelope

  • Breakeven budget to support full time pastoral care and a simple church building is $160,000

  • Requires 100 Pledge units @ $1,600 average pledge

  • Note: this bare bones budget does not include funding for Mission & Outreach, Growth or ministry beyond the basics

  • Does not include insurance or any reserves for Capital Costs (ie vulnerable to the expected but unpredictable needs of 100 year old buildings*)

    *95% of Diocesan Buildings are 100+ years old, with no parking.

What happens to a break even parish

What happens to a Break Even Parish?

  • If there is no investment in growth then the Parish is vulnerable to attrition and decline

  • Need to have investment in growth - just to stay in place

  • So Breakeven = No Growth


Survival mode signals


  • A few people do all the work

  • Same people doing all the work

  • Burnout of Parishioners

  • Doing the same ministries and events with less participation while creating less energy

  • Clergy often feel responsible, burdened, and depressed

  • Parishioners feel hopeless and angry

Diocese of rhode island

Diocese of Rhode Island

  • 54 Church Communities

  • 54 Churches to house ASA 5,601 = average of 104 per church

  • Distribution is not even:

    • 8 Parishes > 150 ASA

    • 17 Parishes < 60 ASA

  • 33 Parishes have less than 90 pledge units

  • Diocesan average pledge = $1,292

  • 29 Parishes do not meet the diocesan average pledge

Diocesan income 2011 budget

Diocesan Income 2011 Budget

  • Church Apportionment = 62%


  • Diocesan Endowment and other sources = 38%


  • Total Income = $3,245,177

State of the congregations

Total Church ApportionmentIncomeAnticipated 2012Broken out to reflect the percentage that comes from congregations pledge & plate versus draws on their endowments

  • Pledge and Plate = 71%


  • Church Endowments = 29%


  • Total = $2,130,875



  • Parishes are struggling to care for aging buildings

  • Aging congregations

  • Making up for lost real income in pledge & plate by drawing down on endowments

  • Hitting ‘restricted funds’ at some key parishes

  • Churches were built for an era when people walked to church - we have too many buildings too close together

  • Reducing mission and outreach, evangelism and formation ministries

Implications for the diocese of rhode island

Implications for the Diocese of Rhode Island

  • ASA is declining, 30% over the past decade

  • Pledge & Plate is not keeping up with inflation

  • Churches are drawing down on their endowments to make up the difference - at an alarming rate

    Financial health and spiritual presence of the Diocese is in jeopardy

Check your survival breakeven

Check YOUR Survival Breakeven

  • Is your Operating Revenue > $160,000

    (Operating Revenue = Total Operating Costs)

  • Calculate your Average pledge needed to cover Total Operating Costs

    Average Pledge Needed = Operating Revenue/Number of Pledge Units

  • Calculate Number of Pledge Units Needed

    Number of Pledge Units Needed = Operating Revenue/Average Pledge

How does your church measure up

How Does Your Church Measure Up?

Breakeven ActualGap

  • Operating Revenue$160,000????

  • Average Pledges NeededCalculated ????

  • Pledge Units NeededCalculated????

What are your options

What are YOUR Options

  • Reduce costs

  • Increase income

  • Reduce costs AND increase income

    So HOW do you do that?

    List three concrete examples of actions that you could take within the next year that would increase income and/or reduce costs equal to 1/4 of the gap

What are the options for the diocese of rhode island

What are the options for the Diocese of Rhode Island

  • Stay where we are and try to keep as many parishes open as possible (currently 54 parishes) - data tells us that this is choosing decline

  • Look for ways to share ministries and costs between parishes - unclear how this could produce significant enough savings

  • Support mergers & reallocation of resources:

    • Diocesan wide ASA is 5,601

    • Suggests 40 parishes - at breakeven no growth mode

    • Would suggest no more than 30 parishes if we choose moving forward

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