As the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to be felt around the world, the Anglican Diocese of The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos is taking further steps to reduce spending, including mandating that all members of the clergy take a 50 percent pay cut until further notice.
The measures were outlined in a memorandum signed by Anglican Bishop Laish Boyd and dated May 15 – just one month after the diocese laid off a total of 66 staff members as COVID-19’s impact began to take its toll.
“[T]he Diocesan Council directs…that each clergyperson take a sacrificial 50 percent pay cut in his/her stipend, beginning at the May payday, until further notice,” Boyd said in the letter.
“This will assist with the financial operation of the parish, it will set a leadership-role example and it is a positive way of identifying with our people, as well as a help in conserving available funds. This measure does not affect the benefits of the clergy.
“I think it is important for the leadership of our church to take a stand, to share in our people’s sacrifice by relating to where many of them are, to help our people to get closer to God and to show our faith and trust in God.
“As the bishop, I took a pay cut at the April payday, and the members of the advisory council have indicated that they also will do so moving forward.”
Boyd said the council directs “that parish leadership invites church staff members to join in the sacrifice of 50 percent of their monthly income” based on a “one-on-one, pastoral basis”.
He noted, however, that parishes should “refrain from laying off any staff member and reduce hours or days first”.
He also directed that parishes only pay essential bills and reduce all other spending to the bare minimum, and that they submit financial income and expenditure reports by the 10th of every month “so that an ongoing analysis can be made”.
Additionally, ever parish is now required to give “no less than five percent from non-designated funds to create a COVID-19 emergency fund”.
“It is estimated that this should give the fund at least $150,000 to start with,” Boyd said.
“This money will be used to help parishes that need help to pay their clergy and other key expenses over the next three months (May, June and July).”
He also requested that church “members who could assist with large donations to the COVID-19 emergency fund” be identified.
Boyd said, “I sought basic information from all parishes. Please bear in mind that before COVID-19, the parishes owed the diocese $1 million in assessments and $650,000 in recharge amounts.
“The parish returns indicate that parishes hold $2.5 million in designated funds; $3 million in general funds and have a total of $700,000 plus in monthly expenses.
“As you would expect, some parishes have funds to sustain themselves for a few months, some struggled to meet April’s expenses, and some cannot meet May’s expenses. Remember, there have been no church services for eight Sundays.”
Boyd encouraged all parishes, that can, to pay off arrears; make regular payments; and pay up to three months in advance if possible.
“The council requires a review of the whole situation after two months, i.e., by the end of June, 2020, and will keep all stakeholders updated regularly,” he said.