Wednesday, 22 January 2014

Bishop of Dover to assume interim episcopal oversight in Channel Islands

Updated again Wednesday evening

Press release from the Archbishop of Canterbury

Bishop of Dover to assume interim episcopal oversight in Channel Islands

Wednesday 22nd January 2014

The Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, is to assume interim episcopal oversight of the work of the Church of England in the Channel Islands on behalf of the Archbishop of Canterbury, to whom the Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, delegated the oversight of the Islands.

The interim arrangement, which has the fullest support of the Bishop of Winchester, will be in place within a matter of weeks. The reports commissioned by the Bishop of Winchester, being conducted by Dame Heather Steel and Bishop John Gladwin in relation to safeguarding issues, will be completed in due course.

The Bishop of Dover is a former Bishop of Basingstoke in the Diocese of Winchester, and therefore has significant knowledge of the Islands. He and the Bishop at Lambeth, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, undertook a pastoral visit to the Channel Islands in December, during which they met local church leaders and Island authorities from both Deaneries.

The interim arrangement is also entirely separate from issues to do with the Islands’ formal relationship with the Church of England. The Archbishop intends to appoint a Commission to look at the relationship between the Islands, the Diocese of Winchester and the wider Church of England.

The news was broken by Peter Ould on his blog yesterday: Jersey to Canterbury (and Dover). He has further covered the story today here and, in an interview with BBC Jersey, here.

Channel Television has this report: Jersey church splits from Winchester.

Update

The following pastoral letter from the Bishop of Winchester has been published, though as yet not on the Winchester diocesan website. Via Anglican Ink.

Winchester Pastoral Letter Jan 2014

I wanted to contact you all following Lambeth Palace’s announcement today that the Bishop of Dover is to take temporary responsibility for episcopal oversight of the Channel Islands. This follows a proposal I took to the Archbishop of Canterbury last year, which has now been supported and implemented by Archbishop Justin and his colleagues and which also has the backing of representatives from the Islands.

It will be evident to a number of you that, what began as an important and ongoing safeguarding matter in Jersey last year has steadily become complicated by a range of political and legal issues. The safeguarding investigations will, of course, continue and I hope in time we will benefit from improvements to our policies to help vulnerable people in the Islands and across the Diocese. Nevertheless, I am all too conscious of the additional, fundamental issues that have been raised and I believe they also warrant urgent and full attention. Equally I believe that the best way of achieving the reconciliation that we all want is for me to step back for now from the tensions that have arisen and allow for fresh, external input. I am very grateful therefore that Bishop Trevor is able to devote the time to take on this role, on a temporary basis, bringing with him knowledge of the Channel Islands as a former Bishop of Basingstoke.

The Islands have a centuries-old, cherished relationship with the rest of the Diocese to which I remain fully committed. From a practical perspective, the Archbishop and I have agreed it is necessary for the Islands to continue to pay their parish share during this period, so that normal ministry and mission remain unaffected.

Archbishop Justin has also announced that he will put in place a Commission to examine fully the legal and political challenges that have arisen. I feel that, in time, this process will play an important part in healing and reaffirming relations going forward.

Finally, I ask you all to hold Bishop Trevor in your prayers as he undertakes this work and want to thank you for your devotion to the mission and ministry of the Church in this Diocese.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 2:24pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

As I posted a while ago - this one will run and run. It's become a 'cause célèbre' and frankly has been mishandled again and again. Suppressing the last report definitely didn't help even if it was supposedly 'on legal advice'.

Anyone seen Derek Jacobi in the Channel 4 adaption of Mervyn Peake's allegorical fantasy 'Mr Pye'? That's set in Sark but reminds me exactly of the strange and different world that exists in the Channel Islands.

My advice to Winchester diocese - proceed with exceptional care.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 3:52pm GMT

Just as we are about to create the largest diocese in the Church of England - Leeds - it has now been mooted as a possibility that we may well be about to create the smallest diocese in the Church of England - The Channel Islands.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 22 January 2014 at 4:26pm GMT

What a sad shambles!

The simple facts seem to be that the Channel Islands do need sorting out and never really have been in terms of relationship, accountability and law. There has for too long been too high a doctrine of "it's different in the channel islands" or "this doesn't affect us".

There were without a doubt some serious shortcomings over the HG case relating to safeguarding. Where vulnerable adults are involved, you can't hide behind "it's different", you just need to do what is right for the person and learn from any mistakes which might have been made.

However, there also needs to be tact, care, diplomacy and understanding on managing all of this.

At the risk of sounding too Anglican and sitting on the fence, there have been serious shortcomings on both sides here. I hope that a measure of reconciliation and understanding will grow out of this for the sake of the Diocese of Winchester, and for the sake of the kingdom.

Posted by: Tim S on Thursday, 23 January 2014 at 9:54am GMT

As a Priest and Church Army Officer who grew up in the Channel Islands, there has always been some element of tension between the diocese and the Church in the Islands, particularly due to the system of Island government and the diocese's failure to realise this isa great part of Island life. Jersey appears to be wrong in the way it handled the safeguarding issue (according to press reports) and appropriate policies and procedures should have been in place, as they certainly were when I was living there, albeit prior to the CRB/DBS era. The Church in the Channel Islands was a safe place to be nurtured as a Christian and provided a firm foundation for my subsequent ministry. However, the Islands are different and they should be valued by the wider Church of England, of which it is a part. It is a tolerant element of the Church and happily lives with the sense of difference which characterises the Church which is present in that context. I continue to pray for my beloved home church, to also give thanks for its love nurture and welcome the new arrangements for episcopal oversight, which I am sure will bring a sense of renewed hope for the way forward.

Posted by: Fr. Jon CA on Friday, 24 January 2014 at 10:53pm GMT

When marriages after divorce were generally permitted in the 1980s there was a ruling made by the bishops that all such marriages should be by banns, and it was agreed that common licences would not be issued. At the time I held a commission as a surrogate and was surprised to be asked by my archdeacon to take the necessary sworn statements for a licence where one of the parties had been divorced. It transpired that one party lived in the Channel Islands and the relevant Dean had ruled that banns for divorced people could not be read there, possibly with the intention of preventing second marriages taking place in the churches of the Islands. As both my bishop and archdeacon agreed that the wedding (which was planned to take place in our mainland diocese) should not be stymied in this way, the policy of the bishops was broken within weeks of it being set out. Just a sidelight on the Channel Islands sometimes being a law to themselves!

Posted by: cryptogram on Saturday, 25 January 2014 at 2:51pm GMT

In the light of the breakdown of relationships between Winchester and the Channel Islands one might ask the question whether the Channel Islands should be linked to the Diocese of Salisbury, as was the case briefly at the time of the Reformation.

Posted by: Richard Palmer on Sunday, 26 January 2014 at 8:48am GMT
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