Is the Church of England Rich? Maybe not as “rich in faith” (Jam. 2:5), as she might be, certainly not as rich in grace and mercy as God is (Eph. 1:7; 2:4, 7; 3:16; cf. Rom. 2:4; 9:23; 12:10) who “richly” provides us with all things for our enjoyment” (1 Tim. 6:17) and “richly provides” entrance into Christ’s kingdom (2 Pet. 1:11; cf. Tit. 3:6).
The church seeks to let the word of Christ dwell “richly” among us (Col. 3:16), to be “rich towards God” (Lk. 12:21), having become “rich” herself because her Lord who “though he was rich” became poor for her sake (2 Cor. 8:9) and now has “unfathomable” wealth (Eph. 3:8; cf. Phil. 4:19), preparing a truly rich inheritance for us (Eph. 1:18). This is possible because God has such a wealth of wisdom (Rom. 11:33; cf. Col. 1:27) that he can bring riches out of losses (cf. Rom. 11:12).
The Church of England is arguably “rich in good works” (1 Tim. 6:18), to have the wealth that comes with an assured understanding (Col. 2:2). She sometimes displays a “wealth of generosity” (2 Cor. 8:2), at her best considering abuse suffered for Christ greater wealth and “the treasures of Egypt” (Heb. 11:26). All in all she is maybe not as rich as the church in Smyrna (Rev. 2:5).
There are a fair number of positive uses of the word group “rich/wealth” in the New Testament. But it is hard to find a single one among them which refers to material wealth. The wealth received by the Lamb in Rev. 5:12 may be the only one.
Yet sadly many people are only interested in the question whether the CofE has material riches. When reference is made in the NT to material wealth, passages like the following are more typical:
"But woe to you who are rich, for you have already received your comfort.” (Lk. 6:24)
“Come now, you rich people, weep and wail for the miseries that are coming to you.” (Jam. 5:1)
So when we ask whether the CofE is materially rich, the answer better be "No."
The question whether the Church of England has material wealth is actually more difficult to answer than many realise, especially many of those who have little first-hand experience of the church and a good amount of bad feeling towards her.
In my opening paragraphs “Church of England” refers to the people that make up the CofE. If we ask whether the CofE in this sense is “rich,” the answer is surely “yes”. As the old saying goes, said to the congregation just before the collection plates are sent around, “the church has lots of money – it’s in your pockets!” England is a rich country. There are many poor people in England, but there are also lots of people who are “rich” compared with most other people in the world.
Things get more complicated when we ask the question about “the Church of England” as an organisation. Most of the investments that are thought to belong to “the Church of England” actually belong to an organisation called the Church Commissioners. A lot of their “wealth” is in fact the pension fund of thousands of people who work for the church.
Then there are the 42 Church of England dioceses; they are all independent charities in law. Some have historical income (e.g., from properties), others have virtually none. Then there are over 10,000 independent Parochial Church Councils who have freedom (under the supervision of the Charity Commissioners) to manage their funds quite independently. A good number of them own land – much of which is called “graveyard” in case you’re wondering about the value of that land plus the land on which the church building is standing, often a historic church which is expensive to maintain and rarely brings in any money.
It probably does not make much sense to ask whether “the Church of England” is materially rich. We need to ask the question about the Church Commissioners, the Dioceses, and individual parishes. Very few of them, if any at all, could be called rich in terms of easily accessible money. If you were to close down these charities and sell their holdings, you could of course release a huge number of assets but some of the land holdings would not bring in muich money at all (think churchyards again) and the remaining liabilities, especially for pensions, would likely take care of much of the income that would be generated by selling off the family silver.
PS: A friend pointed out that there area number of other assets that need to be considered here such as voluntary aided church schools. Again these are assest that do not create financial wealth. In fact, as far as finances are concerned they are on the "expenses" rather than "income" side of the ledger for the church, I should think. Money could be released by selling these off, especially if sold to property developers that are not interested in schools.But the cost to society would be immense and I suspect that only the most ardent anti-church campaigners would advocate that the CofE withdraws from the education sector.
 The references mentioned in the opening paragraphs relate to words from related roots beginning “πλου-“ and are probably comprehensive as far as truly positive references in the NT are concerned. Other references, namely those to material wealth, are either neutral, e.g. referring to “both rich and poor,” or, more often, negative.