Thinking Anglicans

CofE National Register of Clergy

Church of England press release
National Register of Clergy launched
12/05/2021

The National Register of the Church’s clergy with a licence or Permission to Officiate (PTO) is now publicly available on the Church of England website.

The Register is an important development in strengthening safeguarding in the Church and was a recommendation in the 2017 Gibb Report which looked into the Church’s handling of allegations against the late Bishop Peter Ball.

Having a single, reliable, up to date register will enable clergy, churchwardens, and members of the public to check the bona fides of all clergy with licence or permission to officiate.

The National Register shows an individual’s title and name, how they are engaged with the Church of England (current post/licence) and the diocese, area or benefice to which they are licensed. The Register does not include contact, biographical or historical information.

At the time of launch, the National Register includes those who are ordained, expanding to include lay ministry in due course.

William Nye, Secretary General for the Archbishops’ Council, said:

“Before now, PTO and licence details were held in each diocese but not published nationally. From today, the public can search the register to verify whether someone has PTO or licence to hold office, in much the same way as you can search for a qualified medical professional on the national medical directory.

“The register will be updated on a daily basis and so we encourage all active clergy to check their details and contact their diocesan office if their details need updating.

“Establishing the National Register has been a large and complex undertaking and has only been made possible thanks to colleagues in each diocese and the National Church Institutions working together over the past two years to achieve this major step forward. I would like to offer my thanks to everyone involved for their hard work and collaboration, particularly given the challenges of Covid-19, and also to clergy for their cooperation in making the creation of the register possible.”

The National Register contains information about thousands of clergy. If anyone on the Register believes that an element of their entry is not correct, they should contact their diocesan office or email the People System team.

The Register is part of a wider programme of work to bring people data, systems and processes together across the Church of England. The information presented in the National Register is held in a people system which will, in time, also hold a range of data on lay staff of Church bodies, including the National Church Institutions. As such it contains standard demographic questions, which are optional, for all users. As well as being the data source for the National Register, the people system will also manage the payment of clergy stipends.

Notes to editors

The National Register is one of the recommendations in the 2017 Gibb Report into the case of the late Peter Ball, setting out necessary steps to ensure safeguarding in the Church is of the highest possible standard. The changes relate to Recommendation 11 (b):

The Church should introduce arrangements for a national register of clergy with PTO.

The Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 2020, which states that personal data regarding public ministry must be given to the Archbishops’ Council for the purpose of providing a National Register of Ministry, received Royal Assent in March 2020.  The relevant regulation covering the information that will be published was passed at General Synod in November 2020, under The National Ministry Register (Clergy) Regulations 2020.

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Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts
4 months ago

Well I ain’t on it for a start. (Sighs.)

Robin Ward
Robin Ward
4 months ago

My first impression of this is that it is a bit of a mess – neither I or any of my colleagues here has a correct entry. St Stephen’s House is not part of the Rochester Diocesan Board of Education!

Paul Roberts
Paul Roberts
Reply to  Robin Ward
4 months ago

Maybe it’s a conspiracy: either all theological college clergy staff must migrate to Rochester, or they will cease to exist.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
4 months ago

I’m not there either …

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  God 'elp us all
4 months ago

I’m there and filled with joy.

Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Reply to  FrDavid H
4 months ago

Lol

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
4 months ago

I’m on it wrong. It seems to think I have PTO in a diocese in which I have never had PTO, while at the same time not knowing anything about the two dioceses in which I do have PTO. And it says that if I find a mistake I should contact the associated diocesan office. Which is that? What a mess. Whoever is responsible needs to sort it out, quickly, because an unreliable data base of this kind is downright dangerous. If it contains a simple mistake like this one, what other mistakes does it have? It is hardly conducive… Read more »

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
4 months ago

PS It’s not clear that you can click on a “plus” to get “additional roles”. These do contain the correct info for me…but the primary info remains incorrect.

Last edited 4 months ago by Bernard Silverman
Marian Birch
Marian Birch
4 months ago

The whole Diocese IN Europe is wrongly listed as the Diocese OF Europe. That is fairly unimpressive for a piece of work produced by the national church. There is actually quite a significant ecclesiological issue involved between IN and OF since the Diocese IN Europe is not established in any country in continental Europe. But ecclesiology is probably beyond the ken of those at Church House.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Marian Birch
4 months ago

In the Anglican Diocese in Jerusalem, the Archbishop in Jerusalem (Archbishop Hosam Nahoum, who incidentally, is to be enthroned today as Archbishop after 11 months as Coadjutor Bishop under his predecessor Bishop Suhell Dawani now Retired) is always reffed to as Archbishop in Jerusalem not Archbishop of Jerusalem, and this is not some pedantic quirk, but is done for ecumenical reasons out of respect for the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem, who is regarded by Orthodox as the Bishop of Jerusalem, in succession to St James, and in the highly sensitive political and Religious situation there, that is not a… Read more »

Marian Birch
Marian Birch
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
4 months ago

It is sort of the same reason that I think it is polite to say IN rather than OF in the case of Europe. It implicitly acknowledges the position of the Lutheran and Reformed churches as quasi state churches in the various nations.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Marian Birch
4 months ago

And the Catholic Church throughout Europe. I doubt the Reformed care very much.

Fr Paul D Dean
Fr Paul D Dean
Reply to  Marian Birch
4 months ago

Your are right, also only one of the current serving clergy is listed for the Costa Blanca, the rest of us are not. If the information is largely inaccurate , it might be wise to close it down immediately and get the thing fixed.

T Pott
T Pott
4 months ago

What should churchwardens do if their vicar is not listed but nevertheless turns up on Sunday and attempts to lead a service?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  T Pott
4 months ago

If it later turned out that the vicar wasn’t licensed or vetted they could be in terrible trouble so surely they have to turn the vicar away?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

Surely not necessary. There’s time, although not much, to check and correct any error and the Archdeacon will know the answer before Sunday. There is still the telephone!

Charles Read
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

they were presumably there when the vicar was inducted so they are OK. But if a visiting vicar turned up who was not on the database that is different!

David Exham
David Exham
Reply to  Charles Read
4 months ago

What does Charles mean by ‘visiting vicar’? I hope that he is not falling into the trap, displayed by TV quiz shows, of labelling anyone in a dog collar a ‘vicar’, even if they are a Methodist minister, a cathedral canon, or a school or hospital chaplain! A visiting priest or minister who turns up to lead a service is likely to be retired, or offering help from a church with spare clergy, for example a cathedral, and certainly won’t be a vicar. The responsibility for checking that the person invited, and she or he won’t just turn up, has… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  David Exham
4 months ago

Sorry that I missed this before making my latest contributions below. It hits the nail squarely on the head. Anthony Archer reports that he has written to William Nye, so we ought to be able to expect some action.

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Kate
4 months ago

Kate is absolutely correct. The instructions on the website say: “If someone is not authorised, they will not appear on the National Register of Clergy and should not be carrying out any of the duties of a priest and may not take services or preside at the Eucharist.” and also “It is a list of all ordained clergy (bishops, priests and deacons) in the Church of England who are authorised to minister. The public will be able to search the National Register to verify whether someone has Permission to Officiate (PTO) or licence to hold office, in much the same way… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Bernard Silverman
Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
4 months ago

The register is currently demonstrably deficient; no doubt ‘teething problems’ are to be expected and one hopes that they will be rapidly addressed and corrected. I haven’t researched the legal status of the registry, but doubt that it has the binding effect of a Measure. The national medical directory is of long standing, but I’m not sure that total accuracy can be expected of any directory on a scale of 24 hours or potentially less, e.g., if a doctor was struck off, say at 3 pm, would that be recorded on the medical register by first thing the following day?… Read more »

Michael H.
Michael H.
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
4 months ago

I agree with Kate and Bernard. If the register is not accurate or not up to date, it is worth reflecting the consequences. With reference to churchwardens, if someone in the parish makes a complaint to the diocese about an incumbent, when are the churchwardens informed? Or does the incumbent carry on until the complaint is resolved?

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Michael H.
4 months ago

It would be very brave, and surely unnecessary, to take any action relying upon the Register until such time as the already exposed errors have been rectified. There are such simple common sense solutions to this problem.

Anthony Archer has pointed out below that (almost certainly in some cases and definitely in others) the provisions of the Data Protection
Act have not been followed.

Also, why add to the existing burdens of churchwardens: safeguarding training, charity trustee responsibility for buildings and church contents, money, other potential legal liabilities – and the list goes on.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
4 months ago

Following my earlier reply to you, I was mistaken in assuming that the Register did not have the binding authority of a Measure. The relevant legislation is The National Ministry Register (Clergy) Regulations 2020 (2020 No 1538). It provides that for the generality of clerks in Holy Orders the registration officer is the bishop of the diocese. The ‘instructions’ in the ‘rubric’, if I might use that term, on the C of E website about reporting errors (and possible transgressions) do not appear in the Measure.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  T Pott
4 months ago

Telephone the Archdeacon. He will know whether there is a pending CDM or other impediment. Inform the vicar (if he does not already know) so that he can contact HQ on the hotline to get any error or omission corrected. One hopes he would get an apology.

Prime facie, the vicar’s incumbency will be lawful. He or she will have been inducted by the bishop. Also, of course, one of the wardens is the vicar’s warden. This seems a highly improbable scenario, although nothing is impossible, of course.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
4 months ago

The vicars warden/people’s warden distinction vanished some years ago. Both wardens are elected and are equal in standing, though they may of course choose to divide tasks and functions between them.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Janet Fife
4 months ago

Agreed, although not particularly germane to this discussion which has, frankly, included comments totally divorced from exercising common sense such as use of the telephone and paper records. Such old-fashioned notions seem not to register in some people’s thinking.

My sympathies are wholly with Hannah, below, and Dr Monkhouse’s stance.
(I have forgotten how to use log tables, and slide rules were unknown at my school.)

Shamus
Shamus
4 months ago

Yes, well, aren’t computer systems wonderful? Remember good old pen and paper, without the fear of hacking? Just waiting for the new marriage registration system to be hacked, though of course I hope not. Putting everything online is not necessarily ideal.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

The phrase ‘not fit for purpose’ springs to mind. I’ve spotted a couple of contemporaries from Westcott who ought to be on the list but aren’t. As this list seeks to prevent safeguarding failures, heaven help the poor souls it’s meant to protect. Surely it’s a couple of Saturday morning’s work for each diocese to correctly undertake the data entry and evidently they haven’t even managed that. Why has Church House launched this with a blaze of glory without a dry run? The newspapers will have a field day finding high profile clerics who are not listed correctly if at… Read more »

Rev Jennifer Petersen
Rev Jennifer Petersen
4 months ago

Not on it. Tried my shorter name too. Hope I’m still on the payroll.

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
4 months ago

There are lots of negative things being said about this, but when I was an Area Dean I kept my own list and there was no record against which I could check. The fact that the data have flaws was a prominent feature of the previous non-system. At least now things can be corrected when they are wrong or missing. However, the launch process has been hurried and unhelpful – there was limited time to interact (what if people were on holiday or sick) and it gives the impression of an already reliable data source. There should have been a… Read more »

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
Reply to  Revd Mark Bennet
4 months ago

I agree. My name popped right up. I assume that is to do with the person charged with passing on the information.

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Revd Mark Bennet
4 months ago

Yes exactly. A data base like this is important. But it needs to be accurate.

C R SEITZ
C R SEITZ
4 months ago

Must be a big job. One can hope errors will be tracked down, such as they are. I’ve always been impressed with the staff person dealing with vacancies and safeguarding in the Diocese in Europe.

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
4 months ago

Just in case church authorities are reading these posts, I have just tried to log on to the system – I get sent an email with a code valid for ten minutes, but it is taking more than ten minutes to reach my inbox …

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Revd Mark Bennet
4 months ago

Is it necessary to log on? After several baffling and inconsistent results for local priests whom I know, I searched your name and the result was instant – Diocese of Oxford, which I take to be you. On the other hand, two other names (both potentially ‘prominent’ ones) in that same diocese came up with ‘no result’.

Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
4 months ago

I can find myself on the public bit as you can – however I am listed as Priest in charge and not Team Rector, and when I did log on one of the contact phone numbers listed for me was a number I have never had. I could delete the phone number, but there was no obvious way to suggest that my role description needed to be changed – I have emailed on the “hard to log on” address – and the whole thing at that end is very clunky and will take a great deal of getting used to.

Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Computer says no for many it seems. Says yes for me but not my full name (William Stanley). Puts me in mind of going for my second prick. Blokes in hi-vis gilets hanging around outside “directing” punters but actually chatting anongst themselves and ignoring us. Three times being asked name and dob etc perhaps because details might have changed as I waited in the three queues. Details checked on screen, then on paper, then on screen again, interspersed with the official waving at her friends and losing her place. A former mentor taught me that screwing up officialdom on a… Read more »

Last edited 4 months ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

Stan I find the best the thing to do is to in these circumstances is to pull your shoulders back and stick your chest out and in your best imperious voice say “Don’t you know that I am a clerk in Holy Orders!?!” It always does the trick for me.

Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
4 months ago

I’m interested to hear that so many people are reporting difficulties. Having dutifully submitted my details I’m certainly not on the list – and I’m certainly not considering suspending my own ministry anytime soon. Shambles.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Canon Dr Michael Blyth
4 months ago

Unless you have a namesake, you appear to be there – Diocese of Chelmsford? Or perhaps this has been added since yesterday. The register does claim to be updated daily.
It seems that the most reliable search method is to insert the surname only, and then scroll down the list.

Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
4 months ago

Thank you Rowland. I have now sussed it and yes I am there. They don’t exactly make it easy

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Canon Dr Michael Blyth
4 months ago

As Ted Hastings would say “Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey!”

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Fr. Dean Henley
4 months ago

Indeed, Dean, a phrase in common use by the Irish (not the Prods of course) and, since I’ve absorbed many Irishisms after 19 years, by me. Dubliners (real Dubs, not up-themselves south southsiders) are particularly adept at inserting profanities into other words – something else that the family adopted with enthusiasm. Such Irishisms got me into trouble when I was advising a particularly anal supplicant for ordination who was prevaricating. I am unrepentant – some people need a metaphorical slap.

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
4 months ago

I am aware of the Irish use of a particular profanity though it never feels profane to me uttered by an Irish voice in an Irish context. I doubt that Edwin Poots uses that particular word, when he espouses creationism and hardline moral views. We’ll never know whether Dame Moira Gibb utters any profanities when she hears what a Horlicks the CofE has made of this safeguarding measure that IICSA demanded.

Richard Allen
Richard Allen
4 months ago

I checked this morning and found my details are correct. Then I checked five people I know. One has certainly submitted and is not on the list. Two others are not there. A fourth is down as a stipendiary when an SSM in their parish, and their remunerated ministry is not recorded. The fifth name, a female, brings up the names of three men, none of whose names bear any similarity to the name I typed in on three occasions to make sure it wasn’t my error. Private Eye would have a field day with this.

Bernard Silverman
Bernard Silverman
Reply to  Richard Allen
4 months ago

Not only Private Eye, but quite possibly some seriously dangerous people. The request to anyone to ask for their particulars to be corrected if they are wrong can only catch “false negative” errors, where a priest in good standing is omitted from the site. How confident can anyone be that there are not “false positives”, names on the register who for good reasons should not be there?

Last edited 4 months ago by Bernard Silverman
Revd Mark Bennet
Revd Mark Bennet
Reply to  Bernard Silverman
4 months ago

Absolutely Bernard – that’s why I suggested Area Deans could be involved – any large database in which accuracy is a significant issue needs “controls” to pick up routine human error as well as intention to deceive. The system seems to have been created without any attention to the effectiveness of such controls – of course controls come at a cost, so one has to balance things. But performance to date gives little confidence that the practical issues of data quality in human systems have been adequately considered.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
4 months ago

It is clear that clergy with entries in this register were not asked to check their details before they were published. This looks at best incompetence and at worst a serious breach of data protection law. Questions will be raised at General Synod. It would seem dioceses simply don’t know who their clergy are. Hardly augurs well when it comes to safeguarding.

Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Canon Dr Michael Blyth
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

There was a time not so long ago when Chelmsford Diocese was unsure how many clergy it had. There are ‘about’ 450 of us. Some of us presumably holed up in some Clergy Foundling Hospital somewhere…..

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

I am writing to William Nye on the subject.

Hannah
Hannah
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

It is not as simple as dioceses knowing (or not) who their clergy are. Correct (and double-checked) information which has been submitted is not there. The system hasn’t handled well where people have ‘non-standard’ appointments, or hold licence/ PTO in more than one diocese. There are difficulties about primary/ secondary assignments and who where can change what information (so, for example, someone who holds office in Diocese A but remains an Honorary Canon in Diocese B can appear primarily on the register in Diocese B, and so doesn’t show up if one searches for them in Diocese A). I am… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Hannah
4 months ago

I am sorry to hear that staff “have been in tears this week”. As is often the case, the workers at the coal face suffer because of incompetence and stupidity higher up the food chain. The more you earn, the more you can evade your responsibilities – though, strangely enough, when I was the Professor of Anatomy I found that – uniquely in the organisation – ordure was anti-gravity. It landed on my desk. At much the same time as this register was being prepared, the HR payment/documentation system was being changed from myview to peoplesystem (I think, though I’m… Read more »

Nicholas Henshall
Nicholas Henshall
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

Dear Anthony, it is clear from a quick survey of fellow deans that many of our entries are either wholly wrong or seriously misleading – so that’s not a question of diocesan records. Quaintly I am described as both Dean and Provost (the latter title having lapsed in the Church of England in 1999). There clearly needs to be some accountability here for an outcome that is far below professional standards.

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
Reply to  Anthony Archer
4 months ago

We have been asked to check our details, which makes errors all the more surprising. I suspect that the problem here is two-fold: the C of E has been trying to do the job on the cheap, and has been trying to do it in a rush so that it can point to progress in responding to recommendations in relation to safeguarding. And, as we all know, things always go well when the C of E tries to do things cheaply and efficiently.

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
4 months ago

I seem to remember that the late Vicar of Littlemore and political theologian David Nicholls managed to sneak his much loved macaw, that “colourful clergyman”, Archdeacon William Paley into the Oxford Diocesan Book as an hon asst priest.

John Wallace
John Wallace
4 months ago

Anthony
A priest I know is listed in his previous (some years ago) post as an archdeacon in a different diocese from that in which he now serves. His current post is in the additional bit! The C of E obviously went to the NHS for help in designing this and adopted one of their failed systems on the cheap. It needs to be withdrawn and a thorough data cleansing exercise carried out. They could use Crockfords!!!

peter kettle
Reply to  John Wallace
4 months ago

Crockfords is not much use now that so many can or have opted out under data protection. It’s very incomplete.

Christine Allsopp
Christine Allsopp
4 months ago

I have had to contact 3 dioceses to try to connect errors in my entry. In at least one, the diocesan member of staff has currently been denied access to my record. The roll out of the system is a complete disaster.

Grantham Toliver
Grantham Toliver
3 months ago

I’m not in it. I’ve submitted details, I’ve complied with all that they’ve asked and yet I’m still not in it. According the website this can only mean I am unauthorised and should not be ministering. Will someone please inform my parishes of this.

Why is the Church of England so utterly crap at all things digital. From the CofE website to ACNY to this abomination they have a reverse Midas touch that turns simple things into steaming piles of crap.

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