Thinking Anglicans

Proposals made for reforming Church of England governance

Updated Thursday

The report of the Governance Review working group (49 pages)  has been published here. There is a press release about this, copied below the fold.

The Church Times has extensive coverage:

The Telegraph had this report by Gabriella Swerling on Tuesday evening (which has still not appeared in the CofE daily media digest): Church of England reveals huge overhaul of governance, as parishioners warn of ‘coup’

CofE press release

Recommendations made for Church of England Governance Reform

14/09/2021

A Church of England Governance Review working group, established by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to explore options for simpler and more effective governance, has recommended changes to the Church’s national governance structures. These recommendations will be considered by the Church’s governance bodies during the autumn.

The main recommendation of the Governance Review Group is to reduce the number of the national governance entities by merging the oversight of most of the Church’s national activities into a single body.

The review, led by the Bishop of Leeds, Nick Baines, became one strand of the Emerging Church of England initiative, which together will help leaders in every diocese to discern the shape, life and activity of the Church in the 2020s.

The Bishop of Leeds said:
“In undertaking this governance review, we are responding to challenges and opportunities that have been expressed across the Church and tested in focus group discussions. The ultimate aim is to provide more transparent and accountable governance for the Church at parish, diocesan and national level.”

Welcoming the report, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York said: 
“This review responds to major societal changes, including the need for the Church of England to be “A Church for All People”. The Church of England’s national governance structures must be accountable to and transparent for all the parishes and worshipping communities which they support, to build trust and so the Church can fulfil its mission in the 21st Century. Better governance should enable the Church at every level to be more agile in decision making, and responsive to the pastoral and missional needs of local and regional communities.”

There will be further consultation amongst the Church’s existing governance bodies before the Church moves towards any potential implementation of all or part of the report. An overview of the Governance Review Group’s process will be presented to the General Synod at the first meeting of its new term in November.

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franklin willetts
franklin willetts
9 days ago

There will of course be many new posts not named at the present time but with titles that are meaningless but high salaries to attract the right people who will decide new protocols for the laity to abide by and encourage the lay to do more and pay more into some hair-brain schemes that after a period of time will fail but reported as successful.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  franklin willetts
9 days ago

There shouldn’t be many new paid posts. While some Government quangos pay members, others don’t. This is a church. It shouldn’t be a career. We should be making much more use of volunteers.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  franklin willetts
3 days ago

https://jobs.churchtimes.co.uk/?_ga=2.39451107.1377192820.1632150594-76747656.1570466874

Already named?-

Oversight Minister and Chaplain; Priest in Charge, Oversight Minister and Area Dean; New Ministries Lead; Volunteer Vocations Champions; Local Ministry Advisor & Team Leader for MInistry Development; Priest in Charge 0.5; Mission Focused Team Vicar 0.5 six primary schools; ….

Michael H.
Michael H.
9 days ago

Abolish the current status and power of bishops. Make it less tortuous to hold a bishop to account, especially the bullying sort.

Peter Lear
Peter Lear
Reply to  Michael H.
9 days ago

And halve the number – or more

Adrian
Adrian
Reply to  Michael H.
9 days ago

Although impossible while the C of E is established and bishoprics being crown appointments, the notion that bishops should serve a fixed term then go back to previous ministries is one that appeals to me. That might ensure bishops would be accountable because they would know their tenure of office would not be permanent and that their successor would be in authority over them. It could be a plan for decentralisation and subsidiarity, in opposition to plans for centralisation and limiting decision making to those with the right skill set. It would be very unpopular… and many would disagree with… Read more »

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Adrian
9 days ago

Provided this does not remove the sacramentality from the Office of a Bishop, for a fixed-term Bishop for some would introduce a new Theology of Episcopacy into Anglicanism which could lead some to see Bishops just any other Priests, like Methodists view their Chairs and Superintendents as just any other Ministers, and such a view would lead some to question the need to consecrate Bishops, and see their priestly ordination as sufficient in itself and this view for some could be a complete break with Apostolic Tradition. Jonathan

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
8 days ago

Jonathan, what ‘Apostolic Tradition’ are you referring to? In the Epistles the terms for priest/presbyter and bishop/overseer seem to be used interchangeably.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Michael H.
9 days ago

Take away episcopal authority and what is there left of the Church of England to distinguish it from a protestant sect? We need fewer bureaucrats and better bishops. And get rid of the scandal of bishops specifically for those opposed to the priestly ministry of women.

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Toby Forward
9 days ago

I see the Church of England as protestant. Many do, but you have highlighted a genuine issue because others see the Church of England as catholic. For some of us bishops should be shepherds without significant temporal authority, but others see bishops as leaders in all senses. I suspect that difference in opinion means that any change in episcopal roles wouldn’t achieve sufficient consensus to go forwards.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
Reply to  Kate
9 days ago

Kate, Many years ago when I was a Monk at Roslin, one of my fellow Monks , Brother John Halsey an Anglican Priest, said that the difference between the Anglican Church and Protestant Churches, was that the Protestant Churches were Confessional Churches (I do not use this word Confessional in relation to Sacramental Confession) in that they had Dogmatic Confessions of Faith like the Westminster Confession or similar Confessions which church members have to subscribe to, Brother John said that the Anglican Church was not in that sense a Confessional Church, so it could not be called a Protestant Church,… Read more »

T Pott
T Pott
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
8 days ago

Protestant Churches are Confessional. Anglican Churches are not Confessional. Therefore Anglicans are not Protestants. This is the argument of the physicists who give a definition of colour, point out that white does not meet that definition, and conclude white is not a colour. Both arguments make very valid and important points about the uniqueness of white and Angicanism.

But when Her Majesty the Queen promised to maintain, within the United Kingdom, the Protestant Reformed Religion established by law, she surely knew her own language and the true meaning of the word Protestant.

.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Jonathan Jamal
8 days ago

You may have seen this (link). Quite interesting. Diarmaid MacCulloch from last year. The 1707 England Scotland ‘Protestant project’. Apparently England’s Protestantism is now a ‘hobby’. Begin at about 9:00 minutes in. In any event, MacCulloch is probably a better source on the subject of Protestantism than, say, The Montini papacy. Just sayin.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9k7l7_iqECc

Last edited 7 days ago by Simon Sarmiento
Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Rod Gillis
8 days ago

Rod, thank you, thank you, thank you for this. The longer I live the more important I see the study of history – of nations, trends, and species (evolution).

Last edited 8 days ago by Stanley Monkhouse
Alison Menage
Alison Menage
Reply to  Michael H.
9 days ago

Well said Sir!!

Kate
Kate
9 days ago

It is a surprise that the report acknowledges that the House of Bishops has been acting far beyond their powers. In typical Church of England fashion, however, it fails to lay the blame for that on the chair of the House of Bishops…   The proposed solution to everything is more centralisation. I suspect many people will be highly sceptical of that proposal. I am. I am of the view that cumbersome governance is about this only thing which has prevented (at least in some part) the church from heading headlong into disaster. Unless the problem of the wrong people… Read more »

Fr Dexter Bracey
Fr Dexter Bracey
9 days ago

Recommendation 17 is splendid. Of course, no-one could possibly suspect any potential abuse of power by a panel determining who may and who may not stand for election to synod, could they?

David Keen
David Keen
9 days ago

On first reading this seems to give the Bishops more to do, rather than less. Speaking from a Diocese which lost a huge chunk of our Bishop to the national safeguarding role in recent years, I would want to see ways to reduce their workload in national governance, rather than to increase it. Either that or pull out of the House of Lords.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
9 days ago

Did I miss the projection of how much money will be saved by this scheme? And by how much those savings will reduce parish share? Uncosted proposals wouldn’t get past my PCC.

Jonathan Jamal
Jonathan Jamal
9 days ago

What is not clear in this report is will the Archbishops Council cease to exist and be brought into the Church of England’s National Services or will it continue as a separate entity, Anglicans will certainly need clarification about this . Jonathan

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
9 days ago

It is undoubtedly true that current structures are unwieldy. They are certainly unclear, and the report goes some way to analysing that lack of clarity. In any organisation where structures are unwieldy, the effective people are usually the ones who bypass the structures – Archbishops’ Commissions, for example, as way to get things done and decided. The mission creep of the House of Bishops. So we need structures which appropriately mediate between the need to get things done, and proper consultation and participation in decision-making. This would be a lot easier to organise and manage if the centre took fewer… Read more »

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
8 days ago

When +Nick Baines says that ‘there should be one central body that governs the Church’ what he should have said is ‘there should not be one central body that governs the Church’. Such a construct would be at odds with the carefully woven understandings of order and sacramental interconnectedness that we find in the New Testament and in the continuous tradition of the universal Church. If he is suggesting that it is only the organisational life of the Church that is being talked about here and that this is different/ separate from the sacramental life of the Church then the… Read more »

David Lamming
David Lamming
Reply to  Filigree Jones
8 days ago

Indeed. And, referring to your last sentence, this depends on whether the report is presented to General Synod in November to ‘take note’ or is just the subject of (yet another) presentation without the opportunity to express an opinion in a vote. The report acknowledges (para 210) that “responses will range from suggestions of practical governance points to more visceral reactions which reflect different theological and ecclesiological perspectives and viewpoints about the Church’s organisational structure.” Of significance will be the extent to which those elected as members of the House of Laity are willing to challenge the House of Bishops… Read more »

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
Reply to  David Lamming
8 days ago

The current plan seems to be a presentation in November and a ‘take note’ debate in February. Your point about purdah is well made.

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
Reply to  David Lamming
7 days ago

A technical breach of prorogation rules? Sounds familiar! If the government of the day can’t get its agenda through parliament, it may go to the country to put forward its proposed legislation in a general election campaign, in the hope of a more favourable configuration of MPs. We saw this in December 2019. By contrast, dissolution in General Synod applies only to the two lower houses; the bishops retain their seats – much like the House of Lords! I suppose it could be contended that certain ex officio members of Synod are in continuous session, or at least, still running… Read more »

Jeremy Ames
Jeremy Ames
8 days ago

Am I alone in finding all this deeply depressing?

Nigel LLoyd
Nigel LLoyd
Reply to  Jeremy Ames
7 days ago

Cruise Counsellor to me: “Do you get depressed sometimes?”
Me: “Yes, very”
CC: “What triggers it?”
Me: “Thinking about the Church of England”

Father David
Father David
8 days ago

Any plans to return to pre-1919 ways of doing things when the Incumbent and Churchwardens were the executive decision making body in each parish and thus abolish PCCs? I believe that this system of governance may well still pertain in the Channel Islands. It was certainly the case on Alderney in the1980s.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Father David
8 days ago

Fr. David: it remains the case that there are no PCCs in the Channel Islands. The ancient churches (12 in Jersey and 10 in Guernsey, with Herm and Jethou forming part of St Peter Port) are the property of the civil parish, which maintains them out of local taxation (the rates). As you will know, Alderney and Sark are dependencies of Guernsey. I understand that St Anne’s Alderney is maintained by the States of Alderney and funded by ratepayers, in much the same way (though with some differences) as in Guernsey itself. The status of St Peter’s Sark is rather… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Froghole
7 days ago

Are there any lessons to be learned here for the C of E on the mainland?

Jeremy Ames, above, has every reason to feel depressed. The ‘Archbishop Cranmer’ piece just about sums it up in the final sentence, especially in the last four words:

Who will sift nominations to Chair the Nominations Committee? Who manifests the appropriate behaviours to be appointed MD of CofE plc?

Tim Barker
Reply to  Froghole
7 days ago

Froghole is almost correct … Alderney and Sark might not like to be described as ‘dependencies’ of Guernsey. They are separate jurisdictions, with the States of Alderney and Chief Pleas in Sark having significant functions. Some (by no means all) law is bailiwick-wide. Some is island-specific. Alderney is represented in the States of Deliberation in Guernsey; Sark is not. St Peter’s church in Sark is not the property of the Seigneur; maintenance is the responsibility of the congregation, with very little support from the Island’s modest budget. ‘Much of its finance is still based on pew rents’: not so, sadly.… Read more »

αnδrεw
αnδrεw
8 days ago

Updated organigram, or rearranging deckchairs? The comparison in the report with the big four accounting firms: ‘where parishes are like member firms, dioceses are the regions, and the national Church is the global practice’ is all very well for a commercial firm maximising shareholder wealth. But is it relevant for a Church operating in the charitable sector where public benefit is the priority? A loose federation of independent charities is very different in ethos and composition from Ernst and Young. The CofE reflects the voluntary sector as a whole: a bundle of diverse entities which, in theory, have a great… Read more »

Last edited 8 days ago by αnδrεw
God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
8 days ago

David Lamming, a Synod stalwart sees through the cynicism of this episcopal power grab.
To release these pages of major proposals for change at this time when election addresses have been issued and votes being cast is a cynical manouvre. To have these proposals come before new members of synod yet to find their feet, similarly. Callous, or calculated or inept- if the mitre fits …

Adrian
Adrian
Reply to  God 'elp us all
7 days ago

Were I to try to get proposals like this through a synod I too would wait until it is a newly elected body with less confidence in themselves.

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
7 days ago

I’m not sure how any bishop can say they have time for an enhanced role in the national governance of the C of E while their diocese is in meltdown. When everything is in good order in the diocese, then go and play at making policies and strategy. Most bishops seem to have forgotten that their primary collegial relationship is with the presbyterial college of their diocese, not with their fellow bishops. There seems to be ample time in most episcopal diaries for House/College of Bishops meetings and working party sub groups but no time to be at clergy chapter… Read more »

Filigree Jones
Filigree Jones
7 days ago

A response to those who see these proposals as a power grab by the bishops. I see it as a power grab but not by the bishops. If the bishops who are leading on this think they are grabbing power for the bishops they are going to be surprised and disappointed. What the proposals do is dismantle a structure in which power is distributed between a number of bodies including the House of Bishops and the General Synod and replace it with one in which there is a single organisational seat of power to which other bodies are subsidiary. Within that… Read more »

Stephen Griffiths
Stephen Griffiths
Reply to  Filigree Jones
2 days ago

In his Church Times interview Bishop Baines describes an enhanced role for the College of Bishops ‘the body for doing a lot of the consultation.’ This may be a softer form of power, but it plugs many more bishops into the governance machine, and diverts the time, energy and ministry of the suffragans away from the dioceses. Can Bishop Baines really say that our dioceses are so well run that even more bishops can be spared to work in this way? Surely their time is better spent ministering to parishes in vacancy, supporting burned out clergy, preaching in our churches… Read more »

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Stephen Griffiths
2 days ago

I couldn’t agree more, Stephen. In the late 1950s (IIRC from Walter Ewbank’s memoir) a Cumbrian farmer expostulated in no uncertain terms to Thomas Bloomer, then bishop of Carlisle, that he was spending too much time at the House of Lords and that wasn’t what the people of the diocese expected or wanted of him. He changed his ways. Two questions occur to me. (1) do we now have anyone who dares to speak their minds to bishops? Perhaps in Winchester diocese. (2) if so, will they listen, let alone change their ways? I appreciate the seductive attractions of a… Read more »

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