Parishes will have to fund clergy's pensions

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The Church of England yesterday acknowledged that its members will have to find more than pounds 50m a year towards clergy pensions by 2008, but some Synod members doubted that they would.

Harry Jeffery, an accountant from Worcester, said when parishes learnt of the details: "I believe that they certainly won't shut up, and the great danger is that they won't pay up."

Alan McClintock, chairman of the Central Board of Finance, warned: "We are dealing with a voluntary process ... We are dependent on the goodwill of people who, for the love of God, are prepared to meet from their limited resources the cost of their local church and its minister."

The Church Commissioners will have to set aside up to half their assets to pay existing pension liabilities. Future liabilities are to be met from the parishes. The Synod approved a report which set out five principles for the transition from a pension system funded by the Church Commissioners to one funded by the parishes. The commissioners will transfer between pounds 750m and pounds 1.3bn to a new pension fund to meet existing liabilities.