Thursday, 29 March 2012

Dissolving the Court of Lambeth Palace

George Pitcher wrote an article for last week’s edition of the New Statesman which is now available to the public.

See How Rowan took on the establishment - and lost. Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, longed to take risks but was thwarted by Church courtiers and cronies more concerned with their own survival.

The article should be read in full, but here is a sample:

…There is now an opportunity for renewal. Rowan has announced his departure at the end of the year. The chiefs of staff at Lambeth Palace and Church House, too, will soon be on their way. The new Archbishop of Canterbury has a golden opportunity to streamline and to make the support structures of the Church of England and, by extension, the Anglican Communion, more effective for and better suited to the 21st century. Something similar has already been achieved in the civil service; it’s high time that the administration of the English Church underwent another reformation.

Here are my suggestions, born of bitter experience but offered without rancour. The new archbishop should sweep away the top-heavy management of Lambeth Palace, discarding the courtly structures in favour of a small personal staff. He probably needs no more than a diary secretary, a chaplain and a junior press officer. All other executive functions would move to Church House in Westminster, where the Archbishop has an administrative office. There would be a single chief of staff, with oversight over both the Archbishop’s and the Church of England’s staff. The next most senior position is another single post that could merge all functions - call her or him, say, director of strategy and communications - to which all public affairs and media functions would report…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 12:27pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Those who have ears to hear, let them hear.

Posted by: Mojwnun on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 1:21pm BST

Sounds right, and from the inside: but the next Archbishop might do well to do nothing except to see how the land lies and also support any diocesan bishop that finds GAFCON and its formations doing any circumventing. But after this last 'strong' and misdirected leadership, less would be a relief. Perhaps that is then the opportunity to concentrate on unhelpful structures and do as George Pitcher says, ready for the one after.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 3:02pm BST

I have always thought the "handlers" who had daily close contact with Rowan Williams might be a big part of the problem. This post is quite interesting and it certainly offers a better way forward.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 4:19pm BST

I second the recommendation to read the entire article. Well written, so, while long, was not hard reading. And worth the read, IMHO.

Posted by: Lois Keen on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 10:33pm BST

A great deal of international, Anglican Communion and ecumenical work is done both at (physically) and under the auspices of Lambeth Palace. The National Church Institutions successfully ensure that the staff on both sides of the river work together. A systematic dismantling of Lambeth Palace staff and transfer of their functions to Church House would merely leave offices in Lambeth empty. Such plans (even coming from Fr Pitcher) misunderstand the role of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

However, in the current climate everyone has to look at their staffing levels and make appropriate savings and Lambeth is no exception.

Posted by: Wilf on Thursday, 29 March 2012 at 10:39pm BST

The next Archbishop of Canterbury might be well advised to hire George Pitcher as Chief of Staff and give him full remit to restructure operations.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Friday, 30 March 2012 at 5:05am BST
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