Role of the Committee

What is Patronage?

Church patronage has a long history in the life of the church. Patronage is the right to put forward a person to take up a particular type of Clergy post: – to ‘present’ a person to Church of England benefice* (sometimes known as the ‘living’). The candidate is then appointed (‘instituted’ to the benefice) by the Bishop. In London this is done by the Diocesan Bishop except where there is an Area Bishop (in accordance with arrangements set up under the London Area Scheme).

Technically, patronage is a property right which may be transferred, but not sold. The historic root of much patronage lay with the ownership of land and arrangements whereby the Bishop may place a priest at a place when housing and maintenance have been provided. The historic complexity of the legal position has been simplified by the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986.

Under the 1986 Measure, the Diocesan Registrar keeps a register of patrons- those with rights to present to benefices – in practice these can be individuals, colleges, trusts, patronage societies (reflecting particular church backgrounds or theological positions), the Crown, the Diocesan Bishop, the Diocesan Board of Patronage itself, colleges, trusts and private individuals.

When a vacancy occurs, the appointment’s process established by the 1986 Measure involves a notice procedure and the drawing up a statement of the conditions, needs and tradition of the parish (at parish level) and of the needs of the diocese and the wider interests of the church (by the Bishop).

“*A benefice is the legal and corporate form of clergy post that carries with it responsibility for a parish or parishes (i.e. not an assistant post).” (Drawn from Mark Hill’s Ecclesiastical Law 1995)

The Diocesan Board of Patronage holds the right of patronage in relation to certain parishes in the Diocese, and meets to act as and when necessary.

The Board elects one of its members other than the bishop to be the chairman of the Board.

Composition of the Board

  1. The Area Bishop
  2. The respective Archdeacon
  3. The respective Area Dean
  4. The respective Deanery Synod Lay Chair
  5. Three clerical elected members
  6. Five lay elected members

How to become an elected member

The clerical and lay members (see ‘e’ and ‘f’ above) are elected by the separate Houses of the Diocesan Synod.

Any Clerk in Holy Orders beneficed in or licensed to any parish in the Diocese is eligible to stand for election to the Board. Archdeacons in the Diocese are not qualified to be elected.
Any lay person is eligible to stand for election to the Board.

Candidates must be nominated and seconded by qualified electors on the form that is issued when an election is taking place.

The election of members of the Board takes place every six years, in the same year as, but after, the election of members of the diocesan synod, and the elected members hold office for a term of six years beginning with 1 January following their election.

For further information, please contact the Secretary to the Board of Patronage, or the Synodical Secretary.