The Church of England seeks to be an inclusive church reaching out to all. Our organisation is geographically structured into parishes so that the church’s ministry is available everywhere. Because Christianity has been present in England for a very long time, the Church of England lives within a body of church and state law that governs what it does. We have a legal process to change the arrangements that we make, better to serve the mission of the church and our life together. It is an open, consultative, public process.
There are two different but complementary ways to make changes. Finding how to take forward mission and ministry could lead to the use of either, or both, methods.
A new approach?
Perhaps we wish to set up something new. It could be a mission project aiming at a social group, or some aspect of community, at a distinct local community or even a project that relating to a particular social network. You may want to think about employing a ‘Bishop’s Mission Order’. This will set out authority from the Diocesan Bishop to do the work and will define the legal relationships of the project with the parish system.
Should we change the parish system in your area?
There are a range changes, individually with others, we can make by Schemes and Orders under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011.
- Perhaps there has been re-development so that an area of your parish now relates to a different parish?We can alter the areas of parishes to make that change.
- Does a whole neighbourhood have a clear identity and an independent sense of place that is not reflected in the current arrangements?It could become a new parish.
- Do you want to join with anotherChurch of England church? It could be a neighbour or even one further away?Perhaps a union of benefices and/or parishes would be appropriate.
- Would a collaborative ministry of a different kind be better for you?It could relate to wider areas of working together. It may be a Team Ministry or a Group Ministry would fit the bill.
- Now seems to be the wrong time to make a new appointment of an incumbent?
If a major change could be desirable, or even if change could be explored, but what to do is not yet clear. If your incumbent is leaving, or has just left, it may not be helpful to press on with a new permanent appointment. ‘Suspension of presentation’ could provide a period to arrange for clergy to work with you for a time, whilst the way forward is worked through.
Can we explain why we want to make a change?
Before proceeding with a change process it is important we can explain why we want to make a change. It can be helpful to explain to the wider public something of the theology of what we want to do, where we are coming from, the mission strategy that we wish to take up and the result we seek from making the change. There can be public interest and support for what we do and many people may be well disposed without having (yet) becoming actively involved. It may cause confusion and upset if people are unclear what we are about and how it will benefit the church’s mission. It helps to dispel any suspicion that change is really about saving money. A clearly understood explanation of our goal is a great help.
Examples of what we can do
|Objective – what do you want to do?
||Mechanism for Change
|New Mission Project
||Bishop’s Mission Order
||Mission andPastoral Measure 2011
||Scheme or Order
|Suspend Presentation to a Benefice
|Suspend Presentation to a Guild Church
||Guild Churches Act 1960
Summary of the process
- Start with Local Dialogue with Archdeacon and Area Council
- Pastoral Officer sends out a proposal for consultation
- Pastoral Officer circulates a draft BMO/Order/Scheme for consultation
- BMO/Order/Scheme/Suspension is made
Notes on consultations
- A fundamental principle of consultations is that no final decision is made until after due process.
- Consultations on other Orders and Schemes have a right of representation. If the Diocesan Bishop wishes the Order or Scheme to proceed and representation against is sustained, the matter is considered independently by the Church Commissioners Pastoral Committee. In some circumstances leave to Appeal may be sought.
- Consultations on Bishop’s Mission Orders involve responses made to stages of consultation but do not have a right of independent consideration by the Church Commissioners. The final decision is for the Diocesan Bishop. The consent of the Mission Initiative Leader is always required to carry an Order forward.
- Consultation on Suspension of Presentation to a Benefice has a right of certain interested parties to request a meeting with the Bishop or his representative.
- The written consent of the patron is required to the suspension of presentation to a Guild Church requires in cases where the patron is not the Bishop.
Other helpful sites
Whether your project or proposal is at an exploratory, thinking and scoping stage or it seems more as if it can take real shape it is essential that you contact your Archdeacon about what you have in mind.
Do speak to your Archdeacon about any of the matters above.
On technical aspects of the process, you may wish to speak to John Bevan, Pastoral Measure Officer.