Church of England celebrates its wealth - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
March 31, 2005

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Church of England celebrates its wealth


The Church Commissioners, who manage assets worth more than £4 billion on behalf of the Church of England, are celebrating their wealth, after reporting a return of 13.6 per cent on their investments last year - placing them in the top three per cent of more than 700 similar funds.

The Church of England has now made £100 million a year from property sales in the past ten years.

Over the past ten years, the Commissionersí total return on their investments has averaged 11.1 per cent per year, compared with 7.9 per cent per year for the industry benchmark.

This places the Commissioners in the top one per cent of funds in the benchmark group for the decade, and compares with average earnings increasing by an average of 4.1 per cent a year and an annual increase in the retail price index of 2.7 per cent.

As a result of this above-average performance over the last ten years, the Commissionersí asset value is £1.3 billion higher at £4.3 billion.

Andrew Brown, Secretary of the Church Commissioners, told the Times newspaper: ìThe portfolioís sound long-term performance reflects both our well-balanced portfolio with its mix of assets and the strength of the Commissionersí stock selection."

The performance in 2004 results from returns in UK equities (13.1 per cent); global equities (5.2 per cent); bonds (6.6 per cent); commercial property (18.8 per cent); rural property (21.1 per cent); residential property (21.9 per cent) and residential value-linked loans (16.5 per cent).

The Commissioners' total expenditure in 2004 was £163.8 million (£164.0 million in 2003).

The main items were (with 2003 figures in brackets):

? £100.2 million (£98.3 million) for clergy pensions based on service before 1998

? £1.5 million (£3.7 million) transitional help for dioceses and parishes with the cost of clergy pension contributions

? £27.1 million (£26.4 million) for parish ministry, mainly payments to dioceses for clergy stipends

? £18.5 million (£17.8 million) for bishops' stipends, office and working costs, and housing

? £6.1 million (£6.1 million) for stipends of cathedral clergy and grants to cathedrals, mainly for staff salaries

? £8.0 million (£8.4 million) for administration and restructuring costs, support for other Church bodies and church buildings

In the previous year, 2003, the Church Commissioners achieved their best investment results since 1999, reflecting the sharp recovery in stock markets during much of that year and 'a good year' for property.

The Church Commissioners invest the wealth accrued since King Henry VIII broke with Roman Catholicism in the 16th century. The commissioners are some of the biggest landowners in England, with 125,000 acres, and invest almost 30 percent of the fund's assets in property.

The Church Commissioners who are accountable to the General Synod of the Church of England and to Parliament were formed in 1948 by joining together two bodies - Queen Anne's Bounty and the Ecclesiastical Commissioners.

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