Thinking Anglicans

Business school style training proposed for some clergy

The Church Times today carries several articles about the recommendations made in a report which is titled Talent Management for Future Leaders and Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A New Approach.

Paul Handley has written a news report: Plan to groom ‘talent’ for high office in C of E Report of the Lord Green Steering Group.

Martyn Percy has written a highly critical review of the report: Are these the leaders that we really want? Here are two extracts:

…In terms of process, there is a problem about the composition of the group who produced the report. Not one ordained woman was on the review group – and at a time when the Church is about to welcome women bishops. This is breathtaking. Nor was there a recognised theologian, or an academic specialising in continuing professional or vocational education. And, despite the fact that the report raises secular “MBA-style” programmes to a level of apotheosis, no recognised scholar with expertise in management or leadership from the academic world formed part of the core working party.

In the actual text of the Green report, there are a couple of serious issues to wrestle with. First, it has no point of origination in theological or spiritual wisdom. Instead, on offer is a dish of basic contemporary approaches to executive management, with a little theological garnish. A total absence of ecclesiology flows from this. The report has little depth or immersion in educational literature.

A more notable absence is any self-awareness in the report: unaware of critiques of management, executive authority, and leadership which abound in academic literature, it is steeped in its own uncritical use of executive management-speak…

And this:

…Ultimately, the report is coy about the problem it is actually trying to solve: ecclesiastical preferment. No definition of leadership is ever advanced in the text. The report shows no evidence of having solicited the views of the led. Or of former church leaders. The executive managers already know what they are looking for in preferment – folk like themselves.

There is no critique offered of the expectations placed on church leaders. The text focuses on training people for management tasks that the review group take as givens. No different models of leadership are discussed, such as servanthood, collaborative ministry, or pastoral care.

Although executive managers are patently not the leaders of the Church, they none the less aspire to be in charge. If this report is put into practice, they will be. A few administrative offices either side of the Thames, based in Church House, Westminster, or at the Wash House at Lambeth Palace – secretariats that once served the Church – will become sovereign.

THIS work on leadership in the Church really needs to begin in a different place with different people, starting with deep spiritual, intellectual, and theological interlocutors. They would produce something less presumptuous, with a clearer methodology and a cogent argument rather than a set of assertions…

And there is a Church Times leader column: A pooling of talents.

…there are other models of management and leadership: ones that require a humility that is unlikely to be engendered by an invitation to join an elite leadership pool. Had Lord Green’s steering group looked at the Church’s systems rather than its individuals, they might have concluded that a pool of talent exists already in the Church, and that it is not necessary to train individual leaders to hold every skill. When diocesan bishops, say, function as part of a diocesan team, they will draw on any expertise that they lack: finance, human resources, and so on. In such a system, the concept of leadership runs counter to the alpha-male model depicted in the Green report. Here the bishop is an enabler, challenger, or encourager. It is probably notable that, while the word “leader” occurs 171 times in the report, the word “pastor” or “pastoral” does not appear once.

There is clear value in a checklist for ministerial training. It is wise stewardship to ensure that the right skills are nurtured, and that people are encouraged to apply for the right posts. The present ad hoc system, which relies too heavily on being noticed or finding favour, is inadequate. It is wise, too, to borrow best practice from secular institutions; but it needs to be applicable to an institution that, uniquely, follows a founder whose evidence-based record of leadership involved abandonment and death.

The report itself is already in quite wide circulation, although it is not yet on the CofE website, and there seems to be no page there dealing with the Development and Appointments Group, which appears to be a subcommittee of the House of Bishops.

Thinking Anglicans was shown it several weeks ago. Readers may judge the full report for themselves here.

Curiously, another document has also just appeared, which though closely related in subject matter is of a quite different character. It is from the CofE Faith and Order Commission, and entitled Senior Church Leadership A Resource for Reflection. Sadly very little of its thinking seems to have permeated the Green report. It is available here.

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Pete Broadbent
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Pete Broadbent

1. It’s always both/and, never either/or. 2. Most of the negative stuff about these proposals comes from the training and CME industry, who have a vested interest in keeping the existing system going. 3. Of course the ordinal and spirituality underpins all this stuff. But people may have noticed that the church is full of priests and bishops who find conflict difficult, who aren’t strategic, who find it hard to tell hard facts to people who aren’t doing their priestly task, and whose understanding of the seriousness of the task facing the CofE is not there, because they’re in denial.… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

Business school style training – yet more management speak when what is required is a Spiritual school style training. We don’t so much need managers and manageresses in purple shirts but Spiritual Directors.
Good Lord, deliver us!

Fr William
Guest

Nothing has quite spoiled my Friday morning – not even the prospect of a politically correct Christingle for a non-church and significantly Muslim school at 11 am – as this has done. It is lamentable. In one form or another it has always been going on – I know from attending selection conferences when I was assistant DDO that people, even at that stage, are labelled as potential high fliers (a doubtful enough practice) – but to institutionalize it like this is woeful. The problem about wearing the coats of other creatures is that one inherits their parasites, and in… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“The old wet liberal ethos has no traction any more.” Is incompetence really a “liberal ethos?” We don’t find that here in the US. Some liberals have spines, some don’t. I admit that it’s irritating when they don’t, but I don’t ascribe it to liberalism/conservatism/etc. It is a bit harsh to say incompetence, because everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. The clergy with difficulty in some of the corporate areas are likely excellent pastors. We all need training in the areas where we’re weaker. And these corporate skills are teachable and learnable, whilst compassion and engagement with the Living God… Read more »

Philip
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Philip

Thank goodness for Martyn Percy because he has taken the trouble to say what is wrong with this report in a way that is both measured and wise. I’m afraid I don’t have the patience.

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

Pete For someone who claims your point 1 you are very cavalier in your points 2 and 3. I for one have not spent the last 15 years of my ministry working in a CME ‘industry’. I totally accept that ministry needs to draw widely for its insights and think you would find this in programmes I have been proud to be part of. ‘Of course the ordinal and spirituality underpins all this stuff’. I am far from convinced it does actually. That’s a core part of the problem. And my concern is that business theory needs to be located… Read more »

Fr Rob Hall
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Fr Rob Hall

Thank you both to the Church Times Leader writer and to Martyn Percy for so eloquently drawing attention to the disturbing, really disturbing, deficiencies of this Report. Re Pete Broadbent. 1) In what conceivable sense are Christian ‘leadership and backbone’ separable from the call to be ‘servants, shepherds and prophets’? I can think of no great leader of the Church who wasn’t such because of ‘backbone’ – ‘profound faith in Christ’ might be better – in their call to be one or more of those three, though by all means train them in conflict management and strategic thinking. 2)If we… Read more »

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

Re Martyn Percy,

“The Green report represents a straightforward bid for power from a small group of elite executive managers … the proponents need reminding that their ministry is serving and supporting the Church, not leading and controlling it.’

In other words, these are not the Druids you are looking for.

Father David
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Father David

In an age dominated by individualism and Commercialisation – shewn at its worst excesses recently by “Black Friday” – the last thing the Established church needs is to be dominated by some managerial business model. People’s souls are crying out to be fed by a vibrant spirituality and true religion. If ever the National Church needed to hear and heed the Baptist’s cry it is now. Repent ye, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?

Paul Richardson
Guest
Paul Richardson

O dear! The Green report actually seems to me to be a scathing attack of the whole approach of the Faith and Order Commission’s approach to senior leadership. There is no doubt that we do need a new way of identifying and providing the necessary support and training for potential future leaders and senior pastors than we have at present. Our current system seems still to be cloaked and secretive and those who are nominated for preferment may need to have training in specific skills and aspects of quality leadership. But how are these new 150 “illuminati” to be chosen?… Read more »

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

Speaking as a parish priest I think that there are some teachable and learnable skills which we need, mainly to do with running a parish – marriage law, faculties, graveyard admin, website and social media skills (so that we can communicate effectively), musical skills or at least basic knowledge, organising baptisms, weddings and funerals in ways that genuinely welcome people (the weddings, funerals and christenings projects are really helping with this), and of course, boiler maintenance… These things, which are so crucial when you actually get out into a parish, can shipwreck a ministry far more easily than an inadequate… Read more »

David Runcorn
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David Runcorn

I reflect that the central era of Israel’s history, recorded in 1&2 Samuel, began with a society anxious about its leadership – which was widely felt to be failing. The response was to try and buy in a new model from outside. ‘Give us a king like they have got’. Half a glance at what this leadership was like in practice over the borders would have made clear this was not a rational request. It was also a non-theological request. So we should hardly be surprised that it struggled unevenly to have a theological outcome. The final redaction of that… Read more »

Jane Charman
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Jane Charman

It’s alarming to hear a bishop refer to the servant leadership modelled by Christ the Good Shepherd as ‘the old wet liberal ethos’. And the bishops are kidding themselves if they think the proposals in the Lord Green report are cutting edge. The ‘heroic’ model of individual leadership which was current in Lord Green’s heyday is no longer secular best practice even in the context of big business where latest thinking is far more engaged with ideas of trust based and distributed leadership. The sadness is that there is a really big rich conversation which the Church and the business… Read more »

Simon R
Guest
Simon R

Quelle Surprise! It was only a matter of time before this report was unleashed. Yet another example of Justin Welby’s ‘Cultural Revolution’ where everything is swept clean, where those with sustained experience are done away with, and a ‘new way of being church’ (fashioned in the image and likeness of the corporate culture of the PLCs) is imposed on us. How on earth did we reach this point where the nature of vocation and leadership strategy has come adrift from its theological moorings? It comes in a week when yet another priest has been given a P45 (from the Ministry… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

I didn’t describe servant leadership as wet liberal. As I said, it’s both/and. But the expression of leadership in the Church has not exactly been great over the past years. There has always been a list of people who were suggested for appointment to senior posts – what this proposal does is to abolish the old preferment list (which was unfocussed and delivered just a list of names) and make it clear that we will put resources into training and developing people for senior leadership. And what everyone seems to be missing is that there is a parallel proposal in… Read more »

David Runcorn
Guest
David Runcorn

Very well put Jane. Thank you. And deserves a thoughtful response.

Pam Smith
Guest

Pete Broadbent:

“… the rest of the clergy”

says it all really.

Pete, you are the second bishop I’ve seen railing against those who don’t like this proposal and branding them as not worth listening to for some reason.

Those of us who have worked in organisations where ‘management training’ has been the path to the top do have something valuable to say about how the no doubt excellent principles propounded in training courses manifest on the ground in situations where real people are involved rather than case studies.

Anne2
Guest
Anne2

“When the Resourcing Ministerial Education Report is out and placed alongside this proposal, then people will be able to see that there is a comprehensive approach to the development of the priestly skills of all our clergy. But meanwhile, why not just carry on putting the boot in without an informed understanding of the big picture? “ Perhaps it would have been more helpful for the Resourcing Ministerial Education Report to have been released at the same time. I hadn’t heard of its existence (nor had I heard of these proposals until they came out in CT yesterday). If we… Read more »

Brett Gray
Guest
Brett Gray

Principled disagreement is not ‘putting the boot in’, and being told not to criticise because you don’t know what is going on is not the most reassuring thing to hear from a bishop. Ten years of ordained ministry, in parish (I grew it!), chaplaincy, and even as a part-time member of the ‘training industry’ might entitle one to have an opinion. It may even give one a bit of the ‘big picture’. Instead of ad hominem dismissals, it would be refreshing to hear supporters of this report addressing the substantive objections raised by the likes of Martyn Percy, or relating… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

That’s because none of the reports are out yet! This one’s only being discussed because it’s been leaked. And doesn’t require Synodical debate (though no doubt there will be some of that…)

The reports have only just been to House of Bishops, Archbishops’ Council and Church Commissioners Board of Governors. They are timetabled for February Synod.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I thought that Bishops were supposed to be chief pastors, not chief executives? Why on earth don’t we employ managers to manage and priests and bishops to minister? And who asked me if my part of the £2million should be spent on this folly?

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

What Anne2 said – there are some basic things which are frequently done poorly in the CofE because people are never trained for it. One example is chairing meetings. Considering how long we spend in PCCs, Synods and various committees, you’d think the clergy might get some training in it, but no. I also agree with your point on talent spotting – this a key role of the ordained leadership of the CofE, all the more so as clergy numbers dwindle but parish units are maintained, vicars cannot be the focal leader in the churches they oversee. Again, there is… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Holy talent pool Batman, what a great reality TV series this could be. Just think of the royalty ( money not crown) potential. Given just the usual level of intrigue, gossip, and manipulation in the church, this could make Survivor look like amateur hour. Who gets fired from the talent pool this week?Each episode could end with ” You are out of the pool” like for instance, ” Durham, you are OUT of the pool”. Needs a catchy title though like “Exit Cathedra” or ‘Parable of the Talent-less” or “Pawn Your Bishop”. Where is C.S. Lewis when you need him?

Commentator
Guest
Commentator

Excuse me, but is this the same Bishop Broadbent who comments on other cleric’s radio contributions without having heard them or read the text? If it is, he’s got a nerve to berate those who are now commenting on the ‘Talent Management’ report. At least they’ve read it!

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Then, Pete, if there’s been a leak, why don’t you encourage the rapid publication of the other reports so we can see “the big picture”?

The criticisms of the make up of the group who put this report together, however, remain. As do Martyn Percy’s animadversions regarding the lack of theological basis to their work and their reliance on disputed management and leadership theory.

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

I completely agree with +Pete that people need an informed understanding of these proposals in order to discuss them well. I have put some time and effort into trying to achieve that. The bishops received the Lord Green report at the end of July. By September the proposals were beginning to be rolled out. I was given the report by my bishop early in October and was immediately struck by the wide ranging and controversial nature of the contents. At General Synod in early November I asked how Synod members could access the report and to whom they should address… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

Given the leak, it would certainly be strategic (pace, my Lord of Willesden) to facilitate a discussion of the other reports which, allegedly, don’t encourage one to despair of this one. That way, one could, allegedly, see that this wasn’t a pile of secularist, out-dated nonsense but, rather, the Kingdom-focused, spiritual gift to which the Bishop alludes.

Doug Chaplin
Guest
Doug Chaplin

Two questions for Bishop Pete:
1) If we want a moral, ethical and prophetic vision of leadership, do we really want to ask a banker?
2) If the report is a leak that hasn’t been to Synod yet, how come it’s also being reported that £2,000,000 of the Synod budget has been re-allocated to train the 150.

And one observation. I can’t help thinking the 150 is a cut price version of the macho 300. Can we have Gerard Butler playing Cantuar, please?

julie mintern
Guest
julie mintern

Thank you Martyn Percy – you have spoken out as a sentinel watching … full of wisdom and willing to speak out.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

Wow, that’s hit a nerve! Anyone would think this is rocket science. Tiresome theologians and no doubt turbulent priests are on the warpath galvanising the troops to pull up the drawbridge and repel all morally decayed secular influences. That is precisely the problem the report is trying to address. It was not a Royal Commission, although given the severity of the CofE’s problems a fully-fledged Royal Commission style report might have been in order. The problem that it is trying to solve is the inexorable decline of the Church of England. Given that there is no bidder to rescue the… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
Guest
Daniel Lamont

This proposal is dreadful. I have little to add to Martyn Piercy’s and Jane Charman’s excellent critique and other critical comments already made.In particular, Martyn Piercy is right that the proposed process will concentrate power in a few unaccountable hands. Anthony Archer is right about the need for change and better training but this is not the way to go about it. Importing an out-dated and discredited managerialism is not the way to solve the problems of the CofE. Moreover,these proposal disempower the laity. I assume that he is being ironic when he says ‘Tiresome theologians and no doubt turbulent… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

This Report, we are told, was written in response to the decline in attendance across the Church of England. We are told that without this investment the imminent death of the Church of England is unavoidable. How do those proposing this approach see the newly qualified, strategic bishops reversing this decline? What can a bishop do to encourage the local youth to attend church? How will their MBAs enable them to provide an incarnational presence in every community? Change in the Church has to come from the bottom. Giving more training to those who are rarely seen in parish will… Read more »

Pam Smith
Guest

Anthony Archer: “Tiresome theologians and no doubt turbulent priests are on the warpath galvanising the troops to pull up the drawbridge and repel all morally decayed secular influences. That is precisely the problem the report is trying to address. “ Wow, that’s certainly put anyone who thinks they have anything to add to the debate in their place. Is this the kind of ‘change management’ that will be advocated on the management courses the elite clergy will be sent on? They do realise that not only the laity but a significant number of the clergy they will be managing are… Read more »

Brett Gray
Guest
Brett Gray

As both a tiresome theologian, and even a turbulent priest, I do not dispute the seriousness of the church’s situation. It’s the proposed solution – borrowing the tired clothes of a discredited form of capitalism – that I don’t find credible.

And whenever someone tells me that the emergency is such that discussion is not possible, every alarm bell goes off. The language of senior leadership having to push through the ‘turbulence’ of objection? Well I thought they weren’t supposed to lord it over us, like the Gentiles do…

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

Let’s try to reiterate and clarify. 1. This is about the process for those possibly called to be bishops, deans, leaders of mission agencies and large churches (personally I’d add archdeacons, but that’s a quibble). This process has never been subject to Synodical procedures (perhaps there is an argument for saying it might, and that’s open to debate) – it’s entirely about what is called the senior appointments procedure (I wish we could find better terminology). People may remember the Perry Report and other material on senior appointments. So the argument from folk involved in CMD that they have a… Read more »

paul richardson
Guest
paul richardson

“The CofE needs a radical shake up” +Pete you are right. And I would agree with your views of the Hind report. I do hope that there will be some radical and well resourced suggestions for clergy training and CMD. The parish/benefice level is where the most impact could be made. Also in University Chaplaincies (where my vocation was nurtured). And it not just BIG churches that matter. My first inkling of a vocation to priesthood began in our small daughter church in a North East mining village. Our bishops and other senior leaders do need to be properly trained… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
Guest
Laurence Cunnington

“so that we can select and equip priests who can engage with verve and prayerful collaborative missional enterprise in the task of re-evangelisation and catechesis in the context of C21 England” Pete Broadbent

Which reads just like one of those leaden mission statements produced by a group Area Sales Managers in an off-site meeting at the Ramada Ruislip. At least it avoided the words ‘world-class’ and ‘solutions’.

Liam Beadle
Guest
Liam Beadle

A lot has been said about the need for the Church of England to grow. But what sort of growth do we want? Churches full of angry consumers demanding to be managed rather than served are unlikely to be used by the Lord for the conversion of England. Would it not be better to resource Bible teachers and pastors rather than managers? It might lead to a smaller Church, but a smaller Church might be better equipped to witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ because it might be able to be more authentically itself.

Martyn Percy
Guest
Martyn Percy

The outstanding Leader in the Church Times is clinical in its diagnosis: ‘171 mentions of leader(ship), no mentions of pastoral’ says it all. The executive-managers who have shaped the Report need to face some questions and some issues that flow from these. There are three questions and three key issues – The questions are: Q 1: How does a group of non-academics obtain a £2 million Church of England budget for the education and training of senior clergy, when the authors are simply not adequately qualified to shape and design any curriculum? Q 2: It is surely a conflict of… Read more »

Fr Paul
Guest
Fr Paul

At several recent CME presentations we have been presented with the demographic timebomb that confronts many of our churches. Many of us struggle with getting across the idea of change when as ministers we are the youngest on our PCCs. I can talk about mission till I’m blue in the face but it’s maintainence that gets the people excited! I for one would wish for a highly trained and motivated senior leadership capable of motivating for mission those of us on the front line – something that has hitherto been sadly lacking. And I agree with +Pete that this should… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Many thanks to Martyn Percy for an incisive and thorough critique of these proposals. They represent a tragic failure of vision for the church, but given the composition of the task group appointed to provide them, it is no surprise. Their expertise is not gained in building up the kingdom of God. The “system” will only begin to work when our bishops come from the very large existing pool of priests, pastors and prophets – and when they are elected, not appointed in secret by an unaccountable commission. Get rid of the managers now, and put the resources into the… Read more »

Robert Cotton
Guest
Robert Cotton

I am so pleased that +Pete has clarified the issues in this way. It just shows even more clearly how misguided the approach of the Green report is. To respond to his points: 1. The choosing and training of Bishops does not belong to the archbishops. That approach merely buys into an inappropriate hierarchical model. For most of Church history, bishops have been elected, indicating that the people of God as a whole have an interest in who offers them oversight. Green made a crass error in omitting reference to archdeacons, who are so often the pivotal people between local… Read more »

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

Pete, I’ve seen the Resourcing Ministerial Education report to which you’ve been referring. It’s a mixed bag with some proposals that people will like and others that they may find controversial but the important thing is that all stakeholders were consulted and the report will come to General Synod for scrutiny so whatever is decided will be properly owned by all. Assuming it is agreed, it looks as though there will be some money from the same source as the Lord Green money for a number of strands of work but my concern is not really about whether there will… Read more »

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Bishop Pete Broadbent says that he has no wish to lead in mission in a declining church and that ‘we’ have to turn it round. The trouble is that there is no evidence that providing mini MBAs for a handful of middle-aged conservative white men is going to be any more effective that the various ill fated ‘missions’ of the past half century. The much heralded ‘decade of evangelism’ sank without trace. The current visioning in Chichester will go the same way. ‘Growth’ is not dependent on the possession of half baked qualifications, mixed with a handful of dubious and… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

We need to keep this in proportion. This is not seismic. ++Ebor said this to his fellow bishops in the College before the Green Report was discussed at the September residential: “The changes to talent management and leadership development are undergirded by our conviction that we have a particular opportunity in this moment in our common life to equip current and future strategic leaders. We look forward to this important discussion through which we hope to enrich the framework that has been developed and to explore our various roles in its implementation.” And let’s not get carried away by spending… Read more »

Martin Gorick
Guest
Martin Gorick

£2m for training bishops and deans, but still £zero for archdeacons? Mind you our totally home grown training and support networks seem to work very well, so maybe not all bad..

J Drever
Guest
J Drever

Though history does not repeat itself, it rhymes from time to time. We have had several waves of managerialism since the war – the autocratic managerialism of Fisher; the crypto-Thatcherite managerialism of Carey, and now this. Each wave was destined to crash against a wall of hostility and indifference. However, this new wave is different – whereas Fisher wished to whip the Church into some semblance of order or Carey wished to goad it into growth, what this latest wave is about is the ‘orderly management of decline’. In short, bishops need training in the husbanding of increasingly scarce resources.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Will the most desired outcome of this training programme for ‘hot-shots’ in the Church of England be a clutch of MBA’s (Theol.Com) for the Winners. God perish the thought. Surely we have enough competent Lay People with the required business acumen?

Father David
Guest
Father David

The recent Chichester Clergy Conference at Canterbury (how’s that for alliteration) has done much to boost the morale of the Chichester Diocesan clergy. It was by all accounts an outstanding success and has done much to encourage the clergy to go for growth and make an even greater reality the conference theme – “Thy kingdom come”.

Neil Patterson
Guest
Neil Patterson

Whilst sympathising with Martyn Percy’s critique, this does all look rather less dramatic than made out (particularly given the likely practical outworking in the deep sands of the CofE), and I do feel +Pete deserves some sympathy for single-handed defence! But two perhaps minor points to add: 1. Most critics seem to be saying ‘the bishops are dreadful, and oh no, now they have found themselves a way to become worse’. Might it not be that a very few senior people are thinking ‘the bishops are dreadful; how on earth can we make them less so?’ 2. The idea of… Read more »