Review of the law and practice regarding appointments to the offices of

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GS 1650

A review of the law and practice

regarding appointments to the offices of

suffragan bishop, dean, archdeacon and residentiary canon

This report has only the authority of the Review Group that produced it.

This report is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2007.

Membership of the Review Group 2

Foreword 3

Chapter 1 Introduction 5
Chapter 2 The Right to Appoint: The Existing Position 13

Chapter 3 Identifying and Developing Talent 21

Chapter 4 Fostering Diversity 34

Chapter 5 Choosing Suffragan Bishops 43

Chapter 6 Appointing Archdeacons 58
Chapter 7 Cathedral Appointments by Bishops 66
Chapter 8 The Role and Practice of the Crown 72
Chapter 9 The Deaneries of Bradford and Sheffield 95

Chapter 10 Recommendations 104

Appendix 1 Evidence submitted to the Review Group 108
Appendix 2 Relevant Previous Reports 112
Appendix 3 The Senior Church Appointments Code of Practice (1995) 118
Appendix 4 Cathedrals: An Historical Note 123
Appendix 5 Response from the Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust and

Second Submission by Simeon’s Trustees 128

Sir Joseph Pilling (Chairman)
*Canon Dr Christina Baxter
*Canon Prof. Michael Clarke
*Mr Aiden Hargreaves-Smith
*The Rt Revd Jack Nicholls, Bishop of Sheffield
*The Revd Rod Thomas
*The Very Revd Robert Willis, Dean of Canterbury
The Revd Canon Lucy Winkett
* indicates members of the General Synod

The following were also in attendance at meetings of the Group:
Mr David Williams (Clerk to the Synod)
Ms Caroline Boddington (Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments)
Dr Colin Podmore (Secretary)
Ms Sue Moore (Assistant Secretary)

There have been several reports on church appointments in the last fifteen years. One of the themes emerging in the debate that led to our own work and in the evidence that we received was the hope that we would finally put the matter to rest. We know that we will be a sad disappointment to those who hoped that we would achieve that. The more we dug into the subject, the more we became aware of how much good work has been done and how much constructive work was in hand. We have tried to build on that. We noted that the appointments systems that we have been studying have evolved over the years, and also became aware that further change would be inevitable in response to future developments both within the Church of England and in society at large. The Church will continue to reflect on those developments, to sift them and to discern how best to learn from them in its own circumstances.
This is not an argument for the appointment of yet more committees. The time for another review group may eventually come, but in the meantime it would be consistent with the approach we have taken for the Church’s procedures to continue to evolve, prompted in part by the expertise and experience of the two Appointments Secretaries.
The motion that led to our group being set up asked for the Archbishops’ Council to report back to the Synod within eighteen months of the date of the debate, which was 17 February 2005. However one might try to interpret the precise words of the motion, the clear intention of those who voted for it was that our recommendations would be available for debate before now. Because our group had first to be appointed, submissions invited and dates for meetings identified, the first full meeting that could be arranged was in September 2005. The timetable would have left us little more than six months to consider the evidence, frame the recommendations and agree a report. We were assured that no-one intended that. Despite our failure to keep to the timetable we hope that we have responded positively to its spirit by keeping the Synod informed as we have gone along and by working as fast as we could.
When I was asked to chair the group it was not difficult to spot that the group included people with different points of view. We had not been chosen to achieve easy agreement. With no experience of chairing senior church groups I expected to have a hard time. Instead I have been consistently cheered by the graciousness, patience and consideration that each member has shown in relating to the others. I cannot recall a group that has been easier or more rewarding to chair.
We have all been in the debt of the five others who have been closely involved with our work but my own debt has been greatest. David Williams has used his grasp of all the current business of the Church to guide us when we were in danger of cutting across or failing to learn from work being done elsewhere. Caroline Boddington has been enthusiastic in helping us to identify good practice, in encouraging us to learn from it and in developing procedures that are worthy of the Church. Within the proper limits imposed by personal confidences, she has freely shared her experience to help us reach soundly based recommendations. Although she has not attended our meetings, Ingrid Slaughter has been a vital presence in the background, diligently answering various legal questions and checking the report to ensure that our references to the law are correct. Colin Podmore was also secretary of the group that produced Working with the Spirit (2001) – the ‘Perry Report’ on how diocesan bishops are chosen – and of the group, chaired by one of our number, that implemented it. Without his help, we would have taken much more time and it would have been harder to be confident that we had all the information we needed. His service to us, on top of an existing full workload, has been literally above and beyond the call of duty. Sue Moore has provided consistently efficient and good-humoured support. We are grateful to all five.
Sir Joseph Pilling


17 May 2007

1.1 The Group and its Work
1.1.1 Our Group was established in response to the following resolution, which was passed by the General Synod on 17 February 2005:
‘That this Synod
(i) consider that the Church should adopt an integrated and consistent method for the making of appointments to senior ecclesiastical office (other than diocesan bishops) to ensure that all appointments are transparent and encourage the confidence of the Church in the procedures that support the final selection; and
(ii) request the Archbishops’ Council to commission a working party (to be chaired by a person independent of the Council and the Synod) to review and make recommendations (without limitation) as to the law and practice regarding appointments to the offices of suffragan bishop, dean, archdeacon and residentiary canon, including:

(a) the role and practice adopted by diocesan bishops in the making of nominations to suffragan sees; and

(b) the role of the Crown in the making of appointments to the other senior Church offices referred to above and how it is discharged,

and for the Archbishops’ Council to report back to the Synod within eighteen months of the date of this debate.’

1.1.2 The membership of the Group is listed on page 2. Our chairman retired as Permanent Under-Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Office in November 2005. The three other lay members are a theological college principal (also Chairman of the House of Laity), a solicitor and a university vice-principal, two of them being also lay canons. The four ordained members are a diocesan bishop (and former residentiary canon and suffragan bishop), a parish priest (formerly Director of Employment Affairs for the Confederation of British Industry), a dean (who chairs the Deans’ Conference) and a residentiary canon.
1.1.3 At our request, the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments (Ms Caroline Boddington) attended all meetings after our initial meeting. We are grateful to her for the information that she has given us and for her contributions to our thinking.
1.1.4 We met on thirteen occasions between July 2005 and March 2007, including a two-day residential meeting at Canterbury Cathedral.
1.1.5 In response to our initial invitation we received 141 submissions, from:

  • 30 diocesan bishops and one former diocesan bishop

  • 3 suffragan bishops

  • 14 deans and two former deans

  • 13 archdeacons

  • 3 members of the Crown Nominations Commission

  • 22 other members of the 2000-2005 General Synod

  • 13 Lord-Lieutenants

  • 33 other individuals

  • 6 corporate bodies

  • 4 non-Anglican churches

These are listed in Appendix I.
1.1.6 We spent two of our meetings receiving oral evidence, from:

  • two diocesan bishops

  • two members of the Appointments Committee

  • two suffragan bishops

  • two archdeacons

  • the Chairman of the Association of English Cathedrals

  • the Secretary of the Church Society

  • the Director of the Cabinet Office Corporate Development Group

  • a consultant with a ‘head-hunting’ firm

By invitation, our Chairman also attended a meeting of those who chair diocesan Houses of Clergy.
1.1.7 A number of the initial submissions expressed views about the fact that the Dean of Bradford is appointed by Simeon’s Trustees and the Dean of Sheffield by Simeon’s Trustees and the Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust alternately. Accordingly, we held a meeting in Sheffield at which we received oral evidence about that matter from a number of individuals from both dioceses as well as from the patrons.
1.1.8 We are very grateful to all those who have given evidence to us, either in writing or in person.

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