CHANGES to the faculty system, in the form of the Draft Care of
Churches and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction (Amendment) Measure,
received first consideration by the Synod on Tuesday morning.
Introducing the debate, the Dean of the Arches and
Auditor, the Rt Worshipful Charles George QC, explained
that three legislative steps are being taken: the new Faculty
Jurisdiction Rules (to come into effect in January 2014); the
enactment of the items in the Measure now being debated; and the
modification to the new Rules in 2015, in light of this new
"The basic principle is to retain what is best in the faculty
system, while speeding things up, and devolving more to parishes
and archdeacons, reducing the overall regulatory burden," he
explained. This reflected what was being done in the secular system
for listed buildings.
He then introduced the various clauses. Clause 5 would introduce
a nationally applicable list of minor and routine works that could
be implemented without a faculty. Clause 2 would expand the power
of archdeacons to grant faculties. Clause 4 would empower
consistory courts to grant faculties "permitting the erection of
free-standing buildings on disused burial grounds".
Timothy Allen (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich)
welcomed Clause 5, which provided "useful simplification of a too
onerous faculty system", which would "lighten the back-breaking
bureaucratic burden on clergy and lay people", and "release energy
for mission". He called for "similar clarity and tightening up of
the Church of England's law governing sale by parishes of art
treasures owned by churches". There was "disturbing evidence that
some Chancellors are taking a more relaxed approach".
He cited the example of the decision by the Chancellor of the
diocese of London to allow the PCC of St Stephen's, Walbrook, to
sell a painting, allegedly to the United States. This case was
subject to an appeal. He warned: "New legislation is needed
quickly, since otherwise, parishes, aided and abetted by the
diocese who will share the loot, will see the sale of treasures as
an easy way out of financial difficulties."
The Archdeacon of Hackney, the Ven. Rachel
Treweek, suggested that the Measure was linked to the debate on
evangelism: "All of this stuff is about enabling parishes to better
live out their mission and ministry. . . Some of our current
processes can be life-sapping and time-hungry for disciples of
Christ who are simply trying to respond to a mission
She had been "almost ecstatic" to read Clause 4 (which would
tackle the Disused Burial Act 1884). This Act had been used as a
"trump card" by people who "simply don't like what is being
proposed", to prevent "something good being built on a burial
ground that has not been used for many, many years".
The Revd Simon Cawdell (Hereford) told the
Synod that he had responsibility for nine listed buildings, and was
currently on his fourth application for a faculty this year. He
wanted to give the Draft Measure three cheers, but said: "At the
moment, it is one cheer and a squawk." He gave examples of what he
described as "double jeopardy", where churches needed to acquire
both a faculty and separate secular permission. These included
works to trees.
He also spoke of churches that wanted to allow sheep to graze in
the churchyard. They needed a grazing licence and a separate
faculty, "and all for an income of £60 per year over three
He said that he would "look and hope for some clarification and
The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Revd David
Brindley, who chairs the diocesan advisory committee for the care
of churches (DAC), said that church buildings were a symbol of a
church's presence in the community. "Much of the work of the DAC is
about making the buildings more accessible. It is a lot less about
conservation than people imagine," he said.
He had been approached by an incumbent "who wanted to open a
branch of Wonga in their local church", he joked. "I told her that
it might affect their chance of episcopal preferment. I hope that
was the right thing to say, Your Grace." (Archbishop Welby gave him
the thumbs-up sign.)
The Revd Tony Redman (St Edmunsbury &
Ipswich) called for diocesan chancellors to be subject to regular
reviews. He said that he was subject to regular reviews as a
self-supporting minister, and in his secular career as an
accredited chartered building surveyor.
Diocesan chancellors were a very diverse group of people, he
said. Some were young and sparky; others were middle-aged and
determined to do the right thing for the parishes; and some were
"old and a little eccentric", including one who halted
consistory-court hearings for "snuff breaks".
The Revd Paul Benfield (Blackburn) questioned
why one clause in the Draft Measure included "a power to make rules
to delegate the entire jurisdiction of a chancellor to the
archdeacon". He said that the explanatory memorandum accompanying
the draft stated that "there are no proposals to make such rules."
He said that he was "uneasy about granting a wide power until we
know why the power is needed".
Paul Hancock (Liverpool), a DAC member, said
that he was in favour of archdeacons' having greater powers, even
though when his church had applied for a faculty the only person on
the DAC to vote against it had been the archdeacon. But he
emphasised that there was a "need to ensure archdeacons have time
to exercise those powers".
In Liverpool, neither of the two archdeacons had parish
responsibilities, and so they had time to make visits across the
The Draft Measure was referred to the revision committee.