Monday, 18 June 2007

Senior Church Appointments

The Church of England has released today a report Talent and Calling about how senior appointments (other than diocesan bishops) should be made. The first part of the official press release is below the fold; the full text, including the list of recommendations, is here. The report is scheduled to be debated at General Synod on the afternoon of Monday 9 July 2007.

One recommendation is that “that the right both to appoint to the 28 Crown deaneries and also to choose the person to be appointed should continue to rest with the Crown”, although with changes to the procedures. But Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph reports that there will be calls at Synod to remove the Crown from the process of appointing deans: Church ‘poised to cut ties to state’.

Official press release

Future senior office-holders in the Church of England could be identified and developed through a ‘talent pipeline’, a new report recommends. It also calls for greater diversity among such office-holders, welcoming the work to ensure that women are not discriminated against and calling for greater effort to ensure that the holders of senior appointments broadly reflect the diversity of the clergy from which they are drawn.

Talent and Calling, published today, is the report of a review group appointed in response to a General Synod motion which called for a review of the law and practice regarding appointments to the offices of suffragan bishop, dean, archdeacon and residentiary canon. (The method of diocesan bishops had been reviewed previously and therefore did not form part of the group’s remit.) The group was chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling.

The report, which will be debated by the General Synod in July, recommends a set of improved models for appointments made by bishops. These proposals both reflect current best practice in the Church and in wider society and also allow for an appropriate degree of flexibility.

The group concluded that the Church should not propose ending the active role of the Crown in making certain cathedral appointments. The report sets out for the first time in detail how these appointments are currently made. It also recommends significant improvements to that process.

The group recommends the ending of the Crown’s right to make appointments in two circumstances – when the diocesan bishopric is vacant and when the previous post-holder has become a diocesan bishop.

The report calls for the development of a ‘talent pipeline’ whereby those with potential for senior office in the Church can be identified and developed. It also calls for a greater diversity among senior office-holders, welcoming the work to ensure that women are not discriminated against in the appointment of deans, archdeacons and residentiary canons, while calling also for a greater effort to ensure that the holders of senior appointments broadly reflect the diversity of the clergy from which they are drawn.

The report records the group’s view that it would be more appropriate for the right to appoint the Deans of Bradford and Sheffield Cathedrals (currently vested in independent trustees) to be shared formally with the bishops of those dioceses.

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 18 June 2007 at 5:02pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
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Chapter 4 on Diversity has a lot to commend it:

"Concern has been expressed to us that four distinct categories of clergy are under-represented among senior office-holders: women clergy, minority ethnic clergy, conservative evangelicals and ‘traditional catholics’. We believe it to be desirable that the holders of senior appointments in the Church of England should broadly reflect the diversity of the clergy from among whom they are drawn – and indeed that of the Church of England as a whole. (Suffragan bishoprics will remain a partial exception to that unless or until legislation permitting the ordination of women to the episcopate is passed.) In this chapter we shall reflect on each of these categories in turn"

Gay clergy are not acknowledged as a category. This unfortunate airbrushing of a large minority of the clergy can perhaps be explained by the report's scope:

"The Synod’s resolution requested a review of the law and practice regarding appointments to the offices mention in general, not an inquiry into any particular recent appointments. Our report therefore does not address the appointment of the then Canon Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading in 2003, his withdrawal of acceptance of that appointment or his appointment as Dean of St Albans in 2004, even though some of the support for the Synod’s 2005 resolution might have been prompted by these events."

"Similarly, though we note that recent appointments in the Anglican Communion have raised issues as to the extent to which divorce and remarriage, homosexual relationships or questionable orthodoxy ought to be an impediment to appointment to senior office in the Church, it has not been our task to examine those issues."

Whose task is it to examine those issues? Perhaps I've missed something, or are we to expect such a study in the not too far distant near future?

Diversity has its limits, it seems.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Wednesday, 20 June 2007 at 12:40pm BST
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