Saturday, 7 January 2017
Peterborough Cathedral: Bishop issues Visitation Charge
Updated Monday 9 January and Wednesday 11 January
Peterborough Cathedral has issued a press statement: Bishop of Peterborough issues Visitation Charge to the Cathedral. The full text of the statement is copied below the fold.
The full text of the Visitation Charge is available here. It is only three pages long, and is worth reading in full.
A statement from the Church Commissioners is also published over here.
The retired Dean of Durham, Michael Sadgrove, has published Peterborough Cathedral: thoughts on the visitation report and in particular he discusses the last six paragraphs of the report in which the Bishop of Peterborough argues that the current legal framework for cathedrals is inadequate.
The Peterborough Telegraph reports that there have been 12 redundancies and some property sales: “About half of the redundancies have been achieved by not recruiting to jobs as people have left for other career moves or retirement. The cuts have been made in several areas including administration, hospitality, vergers and welcomers.”
Text of press statement:Bishop of Peterborough issues Visitation Charge to the Cathedral
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Saturday, 7 January 2017 at 10:38am GMT
“Let’s work together to put things right.” That was the clear message from the Bishop of Peterborough, the Rt Revd Donald Allister, as he published his Visitation Charge to Peterborough Cathedral today.
The Bishop launched the Visitation – an inquiry into why the Cathedral had got into financial difficulties – back in the autumn. “This wasn’t about attributing blame, he says. “It was to help the Cathedral get things onto a better footing for the future.”
He has heard evidence from accountancy and other experts, and has now moved the Visitation process on to its final stage by issuing his “Charge.” This is a legal document, instructing the Chapter – the Cathedral’s governing body – what steps it must take.
“I am confident we can get this right,” Bishop Donald says. “The Cathedral has received financial and management support, and under the Acting Dean, Canon Jonathan Baker, the Chapter is moving in the right direction.”
“Sadly, some redundancies have been necessary, and some property sales, but debts are now being paid more quickly. There is still hard work ahead, and more tough decisions, but the Cathedral will be able to carry on with its vital work. We are now beginning the process of appointing a new Dean – a senior clergyperson who will chair the Chapter – and I am confident that Peterborough Cathedral has a good future and can look forward to its 900th anniversary in 2018.”
The Bishop’s Charge can be read here: Bishop’s Visitation Charge
Canon Jonathan Baker, the Acting Dean, said:
“We welcome Bishop Donald’s Charge and the Chapter has already begun to implement a number of the Directions he has made. We are grateful for the continuing support of the Church Commissioners as we work towards a sustainable financial future. Whilst the Cathedral faces many challenges, there are also some exciting opportunities for us to seize as we move into a new phase of serving the Diocese and City of Peterborough.”
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Actually the Guardian piece suggests too that he is probably a fairly competent middle manager.
ExRevd Your comment and link have no relevance at all to the subject of this thread.
David, I think the Guardian link is very relevant.
The Visitation Charge makes it apparent that cathedral management has been inadequate so the Bishop has had to step in. The Bishop says he suspects it is a national, structural problem.
If bishops are needing to be managers they can't be theologians too (apart from the most exceptional of individuals). ExRevd posted a link which showed Bishop Donald struggling to give theological explanations.. In the context of the accusations Martyn Percy has made about present bishops collectively, I thought the link was both relevant and useful.
Not quite the same tone as that of the Bishop of Exeter's charge where criticisms and directions related closely to passages of the Rule of Saint Benedict.
8.'The Cathedral is the Bishop's Church'
9.'The Cathedral is the Mother Church of the Diocese'
I have always understood the latter to be the case, though I don't suppose it has any such function in law; but I have never heard the former. Do Bishops still knock on the door at their installation? I have always understood that was indicative of the Cathedral not being the Bishop's Church in any proprietorial sense.
And maybe that is why Deans are now being demoted -'use of the outdated phrase "Dean and Chapter" shall be stopped' directs the Bishop. I didn't realise this, but Google 'Dean and Chapter and the only ones that still seem to use the term are Westminster Abbey (which is certainly not any 'Bishop's Church') and Norwich. Watch out, Jane Hedges!
Peter Kettle: the Cathedrals Measure 1999 http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/1999/1 states (clause 1) "the fact that the cathedral is the seat of the bishop"
And clause 2 provides that there shall be "a body called 'the Chapter'". So there is no legal basis for a "dean and chapter"
Clause 9(1)a provides that the Council, the Chapter and the College of Canons shall form the body corporate of the cathedral.
The Bishop's Charge seems to be an exemplary case of proper fiduciary management of any cathedral of the Church of England. This displays, par excellence, the duties and responsibilities of the various clergy and laity involved in the day to day administration of the Mother Church of a Diocese - in a way that even the least qualified lay person in the Church should be able to discern as a necessary function of cathedral management.
Bravo to Bishop Donald for taking a leadership role and responsibility for unearthing problems of an archaic administrative nightmare that has led to the current situation at Peterborough.
Michael Sadgrove, formerly Dean of Durham, comments on the Peterborough situation here http://northernwoolgatherer.blogspot.co.uk/2017/01/the-bishop-of-peterborough-has-recently.html
He reminds us that actually the bishop already has the right to attend Cathedral Council meetings, and that the bishop appoints the chair of the Cathedral Council, and therefore the bishop is already in a good position to ensure that there is proper oversight of the Chapter and of the Cathedral finances.
"the bishop is already in a god position ... " [sic] Some of them do, indeed, believe this.
Thanks Andy -- typo fixed!
+Peterborough has handled this well, but there will always be questions about whether action could have been taken sooner. He has acted with more apparent sensitivity than +Exeter earlier in 2016. Dean Emeritus Sadgrove has some wise words on governance and the Cathedrals Measure, but the reality is that good governance is more a function of behaviours than law and regulation, although the latter of course help. One wonders what situation these cathedrals would be in without the Church Commissioners acting as lender of last resort. They seem to have made one emergency loan to the Peterborough Chapter and later in 2016 it was increased. There is moral hazard here. It will be interesting to know what the terms are and whether the Church Commissioners ever expect the money to be repaid. It was probably largely in connection with the salary bill, including for residentiary canons not already on the Commissioners payroll. Maybe I have missed it, but I would expect to see redundancies, both of clergy and laity.
Wise words from the former Dean of Durham. Just as there is much anxiety about the recent appointment of so many managerial-style bishops - so too should we not be anxious to ensure that we have a decent supply of sage and scholarly deans to lead our cathedral communities? We are often told that in the midst of general decline in the Church of England as a whole - cathedrals are bucking the trend and are shewing great signs of growth. How much therefore we need top quality deans to see that this growth and renewal continues.
My respect for Bishop Donald has gone. He remains but ordinary workers have been made redundant. That is not the sort of conduct I would expect from a Christian - he should have accepted personal accountability before making redundancies.
Reading the full charge does rather come across as a little heavy-handed. There's an alarming adherence to Business World which isn't entirely appropriate for something which is a Church not a Business.
And, while I am generally anti-hierarchy, the edict against "Dean and Chapter" could easily be seen as deliberate attempt to undermine the role of cathedral deans anywhere, who, as the retiring dean expounded in his excellent parting sermon, have traditionally — and still, for now, do — held a prophetic role due to their independence of the bishops. Not a happy development.
I am sorry this has happened at Exeter and Peterborough. There is something about the rock-pool nature of cathedrals that lends them to dissension and controversy, and which I am afraid makes me recall Henry Kissinger’s acid aphorism about why it is that academic politics are so bitter.
Many years ago I recall a wonderful clergyman and friend, Derek Ingram Hill (often described as ‘Mr Canterbury’), saying that one of the things that made English cathedrals so interesting is that they retained their corporate identity, unlike their French counterparts where the chapters of yore had invariably been reduced to a single archpriest.
The rationale for the retention of chapters following the Reformation is that they would supply a stock of scholarly clergy who would be an example to their parochial colleagues. That ideal was followed only intermittently and, indeed, even after the Dean and Chapter Act 1840 (which reduced the size of almost all capitular bodies) many ‘residentiary’ clergy did not live up to their designation, and certainly did not engage in scholarly activity.
Given that many dioceses now have increasingly small numbers of stipendiary clergy I do not think it is plausible for many cathedrals to retain chapters of five or so clergy, especially since the Cathedrals Measure 1999 increased lay involvement in administration. Peterborough has a chapter of five (including one vacancy) with one minor canon (who also assists the bishop). I admit that one of the canons is incumbent of St John’s, but the diocese as a whole aims to maintain about 160 stipendiary clergy – for Northamptonshire, the Soke and Rutland. I am not certain a paid clerical establishment of that size is proportionate or appropriate (though it might have been until the 1980s) – especially since many stipendiaries are having to care for benefices of ten or more churches, many of which are of considerable architectural significance/cost.
Why not revert to pre-1840 practice with larger capitular bodies where canons/prebendaries live-in for a few weeks and then return to their parishes? The difference would be that they would live on their parochial stipends, with cover for board/lodging and travel. The only salaried priest would be the dean (like a French archpriest) and s/he would perhaps be the only permanent resident. It might bring the cathedral out to the diocese and the diocese into the cathedral. It might even make a bit of a saving.
Also, having attended services at most English/Welsh cathedrals (and some Irish/Scots ones), and a great number of services at a few of them, I cannot help but note that the attendance statistics – which are so often trumpeted – might tend to flatter to deceive.
What I mean is that there are a few cathedrals which are very well attended, but there are a number (Peterborough?) which are not. I have noticed that churches like Canterbury and Westminster are very much better attended than they were twenty or thirty years ago. However, if you go to Westminster (say) – and I am counting it as a honorary cathedral – a great many of the mostly foreign attendees are just going there to see the interior, with embarrassing numbers of them gazing about a bit and leaving after a few minutes (and they will not have had to pay for having ‘attended’ evensong). Twenty five years ago I could often get a set in the choir stalls at Westminster during the week; now I would be lucky to land up in the space between the sanctuary and the choir, or not be banished to one of the transepts, or stuck under the dome at St Paul’s with its terrible acoustic – not that I mind[!] Thirty years ago in Canterbury an average weekday evensong might boast the choir, several of the clergy and twenty (or less) attendees – yet it seems really quite different now. This is all year round.
The numbers attending services at these famous churches must, I think, distort the surveys. We should not therefore assume that all cathedrals are ‘doing well’, and some cathedrals – especially the parish church cathedrals – will probably have only a limited ‘pull’.
Also, as to the Commissioners acting as lender of last resort, I am doubtful that the funds committed are likely to be repaid. Moreover, I would query whether the Commissioners’ subventions are only just since (as far as I am aware) a good deal of the property held by cathedrals was transferred to central funds in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as part of the wider redistribution of clerical wealth following the abolition of the ‘old corruption’.
Unlike many I am afraid that I have derived decreasing satisfaction from cathedral worship (often essentially liturgical concerts), and am more likely to gain greater solace in the less showy parish churches where I find it easier to think/pray.
Froghole, you put into words my feelings about cathedrals and the statistics concerning them that until i read your contribution were ill-formed in my mind, awaiting mental effort to put them in order. Thank you. Cathedrals and cathedral music, as examples of divine beauty, did much to bring me to where I am. But now aged 66 I find I can hardly bear to set foot in them. The often intrusive and pushy lay guides. The obtrusive displays that say how relevant 'we' are. The clutter, The portraits of the current bigwigs that make it all seem to be about them. These are four examples. As an ex cathedral choral scholar and assisting organist I find myself now ironically hardly being able to tolerate choral evensong - what you, Froghole, descibe as 'liturgical concerts' put on by those that have much for those that have much. The thing that jars most is not the poor diction of the readings, not the almost total lack of regional accents, not the lack of a brief (3 minutes will do) homily. It is the hoods of the choir members. Look at me, look at me, look at me. If you take away the tourists, I wonder if cathedrals are doing any better than parish churches, They certainly ought to be, given the amount of money that is thrown at them.
Some very interesting comments.
I think Froghole's idea of rotating residency is a very good one. There will be pushback from married clergy for whom it will be inconvenient, but we need to get back to it being a clerical vacation rather than a job.
An enforced absence of a month or so from parish, would also be good at encouraging more lay activity at parish level - preferably lay celebration of the Eucharist.
I also agree with William's remarks about the self-importance of some cathedrals - but when surrounded by ostentatious burials of previous bishops it is hard not to be corrupted. I don't agree with William though that tourists do not count. Isn't that perfect mission?
Rotating residency was also the Biblical practice regarding attendance of priests in the temple.
Some of Fr Williams' comments I think are spot on. A few responses : (1) A very short homily or else a good, simple introduction to each Lesson (such as I have encountered at Westminster) would be welcome and I think should be the norm. (2) I value Choral Evensong (and Choral Matins even more) but if we must have the Apostles' Creed, for the sake of those who attend who are "on the fringe" or agnostic, I think it should always be sung - suggesting its poetic, metaphorical character. (3) Although there are many fine settings for the versicles and responses, (as a not very musical, former Precentor) I think the ferial responses in which the people are able to join should normally be used - and a congregational hymn always included. (4) Preludes and postludes should be generally be quiet, and related as far as possible to other parts of Divine Service - without the loud, noisy, sometimes quite discordant concert pieces of the kind that at my dearly loved Durham once drove me out even before Evensong began, and which are especially common as postludes. Finally, (5) the wearing of hoods by choir members should be banned unless perhaps when they are hoods for musical degrees - even then hardly justifiable, and indeed not worn by the clergy if the hoods are not theological. Donald Robinson, a wise, former Archbishop of Sydney with deep liturgical (as well as Scriptural) knowledge, sadly now quite infirm, argued that such hoods should always be worn by the clergy or lay readers as a sign of their qualification to preach (not, of course, hoods in degrees with no relevance to the ministry of the word). But enough for now !
In re John Bunyan's dislike of the Apostles' Creed, he would have enjoyed the criticism I heard Lord Altrincham (aka John Grigg) express in a sermon at Gt St Mary's, Cambridge, 60 years ago: "It should just be 'I believe in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit'. You can leave out that medical report in the middle."