Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Millions wiped out by church gambles

THE world's richest and largest Anglican diocese has lost more than $100 million on the stockmarket and is investigating ways to cut programs and ministries across Sydney.

Two years ago the Anglican diocese of Sydney was able to allocate $30 million to educate new ministers, spread the Gospel and reach out to young people. But returns from investments have plummeted so steeply that the funds available next year have been slashed to $5.6 million.

The cuts will probably jeopardise funding for places at the ministry training institution, Moore College - causing either lower student numbers or higher fees - and Youthworks, which recruits young people for mission work.

They will also eat into allocations for clergy, including the archbishop, bishops and regional offices, and some resources have already been restructured.

The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, has written to clergy warning that the global financial crisis has caused significant losses. He said the diocese had borrowed money to invest and used the profits to build churches in 2007.

"In the extraordinary conditions at the end of 2008, as the whole market fell, this strategy also accentuated our losses," Dr Jensen said.

"As a result, our investments have fallen by more than half and distribution of money from our investments has been cut by 50 per cent."

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