Andrew Kitchingman: Stewardship at Ripon Cathedral

May 29, 2017
May 29, 2017 Joe

Good morning/afternoon everyone. For those who may not know me, my name is Andrew Kitchingman and I have been Canon Treasurer of Ripon Cathedral since my installation this January. I am a chartered accountant by profession with a 30-year career in the City of London now behind me. It is a huge honour to represent the Cathedral as a member of Chapter and equally a great responsibility to manage and improve the finances here during what is a difficult time for English cathedrals.

But first, I would like to pay tribute to my immediate predecessor, Philip Arundel. Philip served for 6 years as Canon Treasurer and achieved many things. Most importantly, he inherited a cathedral severely in deficit and had to take strong control of costs. Over his period of office and under his leadership, Chapter succeeded in reducing our annual deficit from approaching £0.25m to, last year, less than £50k on unrestricted funds, for which we owe him a huge debt of thanks.

You will note however that I said we are still in deficit, so I thought I would explain to you what the income and expenditure of the cathedral was in 2016 and how they are made up. Slides showing this pictorially are on display for you to review over coffee afterwards and there are plentiful copies of the report and accounts to take away.

The total income and expenditure of the Cathedral are now almost in balance at approximately £1.2m per annum.

Almost 40% of our income came from donations and legacies, for which we have much to thank you for. A further 32% came from grants from the Church centrally and other awarding bodies. Investment income generated 12%, 10% came from trading and events and the balance was from fees paid to use the Cathedral.

On expenditure almost half our costs, nearly £600k per annum, are spent on repairing, maintaining and operating the cathedral and surrounding precincts and 40% represents the total cost of ministry here.

But the key number to take away here is that the deficit on unrestricted funds in 2016 was £43k. This was better than the budgeted £60k, but still represented a further reduction in our reserves. The Church of England is very concerned about the financial health of its cathedrals and has most recently established a working group to address the challenges faced. Its leader, the Right Reverend Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, said on his appointment that, and I quote, “cathedrals are facing a new scale and depth of challenge in their bid to stay afloat”. There have already been well-publicised financial crises at Durham, Peterborough and Guildford and this is most definitely not going to happen at Ripon.

I say all of this not to generate gloom or panic but to provide a context in which we at Ripon must balance our books and ensure that sufficient resources are in place for the short, medium and long term wellbeing of this cathedral that we love so much. We look forward from a much better starting position than many but we have no shortage of challenges to finance.

Firstly, we need to crack this short-term issue of balancing the books. A budget was set for this year, predicting a deficit of just under £20k, so better again than 2016 but still reducing our reserves. In the first quarter, the loss was £4k, so we are on track but must not be complacent. Why can we not work a bit harder and get us into a financial surplus? On the expenditure side of the equation, I am confident that costs are now close to being as low as possible and our auditors, Euraudit have also given us a good bill of health on financial controls and procedures. We are very careful in how we invest your money. If we are to beat the brackets then, so to speak, we must increase our income wherever possible.

So how do we go about this? Currently just 9 of the 42 cathedrals charge for entry, though Bishop Newman expects that to rise. Some are free to enter but charge instead for special exhibitions, Durham is an example of this.

Chapter has no present intention to implement either of these charging initiatives but if we are to live without such income and within our means, then we need to persuade those entering the cathedral for services or as tourists to give more. You may be surprised to hear that in 2016, over 98,000 visitors entered the cathedral and gave on average 78p each. They would spend 3 times that on a coffee at Starbucks! 50p more each and we would have been in surplus last year.

We host, through RCDC, a significant number of events each year in and around the Cathedral, including a wedding and spring fair, the Dean’s banquet and, most recently the beer festival. In 2016 the team did a tremendous job, running 17 events and generating gross revenues of over £250k, a record result. We are always looking for ways to generate more revenue from events but my sense is that we are operating at close to event capacity already.

You, the members and worshippers are, quite naturally, our first port of call in generating income for this, your cathedral. In 2016, worshippers present and past were generous and gave collectively £467k in donations and legacies. Some of this came from one-off donations (including legacies), some from the pew slips at services and the balance of £97k from the planned giving scheme, led for us by Liz Thomas. This latter scheme is one that I am keen to promote more strongly to one and all here; it’s an efficient way to give, it allows the cathedral to have greater clarity in its budgeting and thirdly, it allows us to claim as much as possible back from the Chancellor through Gift Aid. That can only be a good thing!

We currently have 136 members of the congregation, about 40% of the total worshippers across all services, in the planned giving scheme and Liz Thomas and I would be delighted to speak to those others of you not currently giving in this way. Please also, if you are already on planned giving, give some thought to the level of your giving, perhaps you have not increased the sum for some time? By the way, there is no minimum amount to join the planned giving scheme, every pound counts.

In this regard, I was deeply struck and affected by Archbishop Welby’s book for Lent this year, ‘De-throning Mammon’. When I say deeply struck, what I mean by that is that I read it through at one sitting and then read it twice again by Easter Sunday. What I realised on reflection, is that I was living my own life pretty much in the way he described, budgeting for all of the financial priorities in my family life and then giving a proportion of the balance to the church. Welby made a strong case for a thorough review of my priorities for, as it is quite clear to me, my faith and this place are indeed a major priority in my life. I have begun that re-balancing.

It is for us all as individuals to set our own priorities and to give what we can. I am convinced, however, that Ripon Cathedral will not thrive as it should unless we, its members, are willing to support it more than we are currently doing.

Turning to the medium and longer term, we have a number of programmes in place which seek to make this place a better-endowed cathedral, able to do much more in delivering God’s kingdom on earth. Are you aware of the wonderful initiatives run by RCDC, our development campaign? You could sponsor a chorister, join the Patrons or Custodians and enjoy special events to thank you for your support.  Our music trust, RCMT and the Dean’s excellent initiative, Ripon Cathedral Revealed both seek to re-set the agenda here in Ripon. Please look to support one or all of these so that, in time, we will have a more strongly endowed cathedral, better able to support you and all who come here to enjoy the great treasures accumulated over 1,300 years.

Thank you very much for your support and your attention. With your help, we can consign the deficits and the brackets to the history books and look forward to a sustained period of operating surpluses with all the attendant benefits that such financial health will deliver.

Please do what you can.  The Dean and I look forward to talking to you after this service.  We have all the details!

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