Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 17 February 2021 – Ash Wednesday

Sarah James Earth & Altar Memento Mori: Christian Forms of Death Contemplation for Lent

Augustine Tanner-Ihm ViaMedia.News When You are Not Invited to the Table

Charlotte Gauthier All Things Lawful And Honest Middle Management Malaise
“Charlotte Gauthier speaks from her experience of middle management in the secular world – how it works well, and where it works badly. The Church of England is replicating all the worst management patterns of a failing company heading for collapse. How can we stop this malaise and restore an efficient and energising vision of what the Church of England could be?”

Stephen Parsons Surviving Church Proportionate and Just? The Church of England and the Clerical Discipline Measure.

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Susannah Clark
1 month ago

Picking up on one or two things from Augustine’s thought-provoking article… first of all one phrase: “The Church must be a people that walk with the crucified people of the earth.” So true and so challenging. Until we learn that love and community mean living and giving ourselves *alongside* others in the world around us – and ‘walking with the crucified people of the earth’ – we are I think missing the call and the challenge of God, and the full joy and sacrifice of the power of love. It’s not about a holy set of people ‘in’ the church… Read more »

Michael
Michael
1 month ago
Reply to  Susannah Clark

I read Augustine’s piece twice and I agree, it is thought provoking and profound. My experience of exclusion is nowhere near as profound as either yours or Augustine’s. Unwanted just about sums up a year of exclusion from church, fellowship and communion. I am wondering, in passing, whether there are financial penalties or consequences for a vicar and PCC who (i) ignore all objections to long term never ending cancellation of public worship (ii) 90% drop in income (iii) spectre of redundancy in the next five years. The most recent quinquennial report identified repairs totalling £7,000,000, of which near to… Read more »

Susannah Clark
1 month ago

I should add, I write from a position of background social privilege. I thought I should acknowledge that. People like me have ‘reserves’ and ‘fallbacks’. Many people don’t.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago

Re: Charlotte Gauthier All Things Lawful And Honest Middle Management Malaise “Fortunately, there is an alternative vision available – a clear, compelling vision with which the majority already agree. It is simply this: A Christian presence in every community. Six words. And that’s all you need. Everything else – Church structures, funding, training, and all the rest – can neatly fall in line behind it, if we have the courage to drop the insulating and responsibility-shunning layers of management twaddle and commit to something so simple, pure, and holy” – Charlotte Gauthier Is this alternative vision too late? The Church of England… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard W. Symonds
Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
1 month ago

Martyn Percy may have diagnosed the 2014 report correctly, but what perhaps he did not fully appreciate is that the characteristics he noted are not considered problematic by modern management theory. The thesis behind it in a nutshell is that you can manage something with knowing anything about it, because abstract management principles apply to everything without exception. So the analogy “writing a report about Tesco without mentioning groceries”, undoubtedly meant by him to be a criticism, is taken as one of approbation, because that’s exactly how, according to the theory, you would manage a supermarket.

Richard W. Symonds
Richard W. Symonds
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Managerialism has its place – but as a servant not as a master. The Church, the Monarchy, the NHS Hospital, the School, the University et al all need to have professional managers – but not as controlling ‘masters’.

“Abstract management principles” have to be tailored, adapted, honed and fine-tuned by those who fully understand what the essence of the organisation is all about.

A ‘one cap fits all’ approach is not only unwise, but potentially disastrous – especially for the Church.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard W. Symonds
Interested Observer
Interested Observer
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

In reality, the management of supermarkets is very much in the hands of retail people. Ken Murphy rose through Boots to Walgreens to Tescos, Dave Lewis was Unilever and then Tescos. Simon Roberts at Sainsbury’s is similarly Boots, and in fact worked with Ken Murphy at one point. Roger Burnley at ASDA is pretty much a lifer aside from a brief foray in Sainsbury’s before returning. The same’s true of most big brands: if you look at Coca Cola, Unilever, Ford, Microsoft, Apple, HSBC you’ll find that the CEO, COO and usually CFO are probably company lifers and certainly sector… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
1 month ago

A good point, and one which I suggest reinforces mine: companies such as supermarkets exist in a highly competitive world and the ones that survive are the ones that are managed effectively. It is thus observable that the theory that you can manage anything without knowing anything about it is not an effective one in the private sector. In the public sector, the penalties for failure are … different.

Last edited 1 month ago by Richard Pinch
Richard Ashby
Richard Ashby
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

And not so modern! In the early nineties as a senior professional public librarian the new structure in the local authority for which I worked had me and my area library service ‘managed’ by a person who had been a youth and community worker. The justification was exactly as described; that management could manage anything. You didn’t have to know anything about it at all. Luckily my manager was rather hands off and I effectively did the management too. But it could have been much much worse.

Kate
Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

Actually in situations like that a good management consultant would get “senior management lack in depth sector experience” into the strategic risk register.

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

Which suggest that good management consultants are rarer than one might wish. I wonder whether that is yet on the Cof E’s strategic risk register?

Kate
Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Richard Pinch

I wonder whether there even is a strategic risk register.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
1 month ago
Reply to  Kate

Quite. Government is still beset by the cult of amateurs, so that both ministers and civil servants are moved from department to department without any thought as to the applicability of their skills. When there is shareholders’ money at stake, things are rather more disciplined. Since the 2008 crisis, senior managers in the financial sector are statutorily bound by the Senior Managers Regime. Certain roles, Senior Management Functions, are defined. Regulated bodies have to have people in the roles the regulator demands: if the regulator says you need an SMF17 Money Laundering Officer or an SMF24 Chief Operations Function, then… Read more »

Kate
Kate
1 month ago

“When there is shareholders’ money at stake, things are rather more disciplined.”
 
And a lot of risks and inefficiencies between the silos. It’s not necessarily a better model.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

I am no fan of the proliferation of Assistant/Associate Archdeacons (and have even had a letter published in the CT on the subject!), and broadly agree with what Charlotte says. But the other side of the coin needs to be noted and addressed – how will the Christian presence in every community be financed and staffed? Even if all the middle management posts are abolished, parish quota payments are still very high, and beyond the reach of a vast number of communities. I believe that the middle management posts have been created (for better or worse) by bishops attempting to… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
1 month ago

Assuming that The House of Bishops and General Synod won’t collectively push for these changes, it falls to individual dioceses to model how to put this vision and strategy into proactive. Diocesan Synods could be crucial here: don’t sign off a budget if it promotes poor vision and strategy. I think parishes might be more motivated to pay in full a reduced parish share that pays for mission that makes an impact where they are. A bishop with a clear and compelling apologia sets a very clear tone and culture for ministry which eventually shows itself in local vision and… Read more »

Richard Pinch
Richard Pinch
1 month ago

Surely the answer is for the deputy assistant to the assistant deputy level roles to be part-time, combined with an inner-city curacy; school, university, prison, hospital or industrial chaplaincy; youth or social worker role, or similar?

Fr. Dean Henley
Fr. Dean Henley
1 month ago

Dominic, I am intrigued by your contrast of apologia and apologetic. Can you give some examples please, and can you say if the apologetic candidates were recommended by Ministry Division? Later in my ministry I found myself having to frequently apologise for the CofE but in some way this felt like an apologia as I was expounding what I believed to be the Gospel. I like to think that for all I was a broken vessel, I was true to our founder’s principles and that my parishioners, churchgoers and non-churchgoers picked that up. Self conscious teenagers would avert their gaze… Read more »

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
1 month ago

I think you may be investing more in my brief remark than it deserves! I was simply using ‘apologia’ to mean a proper articulation of Christianity (and, perhaps, Anglicanism) in the context of people and communities that don’t understand it. The use of ‘apologetic’ was meant to express a sheepish and embarrassed approach to faith, rather than a confident one. At the BAPs I staffed, other than some conservative evangelical candidates, there was quite a lot of half-hearted expression of faith, and that felt quite concerning. In hindsight I could have used a better turn of phrase. There is, of… Read more »

John Caperon
1 month ago

Charlotte Gauthier’s thoughtful and accurate piece concludes that the Church of England’s ‘strapline’ ‘A Christian presence in every community’ provides sufficient clarity and motivation for the Church. Well, up to a point. The thing is that ‘community’ no longer means simply ‘a geographical place in which people reside’; it has a further and wider set of meanings when associated with particular interest groupings. So we speak of the ‘LGBTI+ community’; even the ‘golfing community’, the teaching community’; and in my former life I always thought of the school I led as a ‘learning community’. So the strapline isn’t simply an… Read more »

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