THE Archbishop of Canterbury and other bishops this week
defended a radical overhaul of the process for training and
selecting future church leaders, in the face of online
denunciations by clerics and lay people.
The report Talent Management for Future Leaders and
Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans: A new approach -
referred to as the Green report after its chairman, Prebendary the
Lord Green of Hurstpierpoint - was revealed in the Church
Times last week (News 12 December), to a lay and ordained
readership largely unaware that it was even in gestation.
Among the many critics is Canon Jane Charman, Prebendary of
Salisbury Cathedral and director of learning for discipleship and
ministry in the diocese. "We need leaders who have collaborative
working in their DNA, not a new generation of heroic
individualists," she said.
A General Synod member, she was an early critic of the report,
and reported this week that she had secured an hour with some of
its authors, including the Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen
Conway, Caroline Boddington, the Archbishops' secretary for
appointments, and Christopher McClaverty, a consultant seconded to
the steering group.
Canon Charman's request for wider consultation was turned down.
She said: "Mr McClaverty described our concerns as 'turbulence'
which he interpreted as 'a sign that change management is working'.
It was an extremely poor encounter, which raised more questions
than it answered."
Among other critics, the Dean of Durham, the Very Revd Michael
Sadgrove, writing online on Sunday, was "worried about the erosion
of the traditional Christian way of speaking about vocation and the
spiritual path". His role was "much more than being a good
corporate CEO who runs a tight and efficient ship".
The Assistant Curate of Shorne, the Revd Andrew Lightbown, who
has an MBA and has taught students pursuing the qualification,
published an open letter, asking: "Why do we, the Church, assume
business and business schools have much to teach us about long-term
sustainable success, when the very notion of long-term cannot be
found in the DNA of the vast majority of corporations?"
Over the weekend, the only bishop to defend the report was the
Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent. "The critics of
this report have fallen into a false dualism between spirituality
and managerialism," he said on Monday.
"Nobody is setting aside the calling to priestly, prayerful,
pastoral, and prophetic ministry as expressed in the ordinal - but
bishops also need to be equipped with the skills required to
function well in the public square, to lead with vision and
strategy, to work with teams, and to confront difficult problems of
change management, finance, and HR with appropriate emotional
intelligence and self-differentiation."
In an exchange on the blog Thinking Anglicans, which published
the whole of the Green report, Bishop Broadbent described the
existing preparation and training for bishops as "pretty crap".
Archbishop Welby was more measured in a blog on Tuesday, in
which he defended the reforms as a form of pastoral care - "proper
preparation" - for those called to leadership. "Not to undertake
this seriously is to put unreasonable stress on those in positions
of leadership, neglecting to love them as we are called to do," he
He went on: "To leave the discernment of a vocation to the
episcopacy to the brief moment of a CNC [Crown Nominations
Commission] is absurd," he wrote. "One cannot leave it that
The process set out in the Green report "enables discernment to
be carried out in a thoughtful and sustained manner over a period
of a number of years, with excellent pastoral care for those who
are not going to be appointed to senior posts.
"It is also absolutely essential that we have institutional
structures that are seen to be fair and just. The experience of too
many is one of profound rejection after a period of extreme
The Bishop of Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, in charge of
implementing the report, argued that it was an opportunity to
"revitalise outdated lists and processes. . . It is also absolutely
essential that we have institutional processes that are seen to be
fair and just, as the current experience of too many is one of
The changes would, he argued, prepare leaders for the "steep
learning curve" they would encounter: "Arriving at moments of
appointment and hoping that possible candidates may have had
suitable development and possess the gifts needed is to abandon our
He described the report as a "working document" - although its
implementation is well under way. The closing date for applications
to the post of "head of senior leadership management" passed a
The report was published on the Church House website on
Also on Tuesday, the Dean of Liverpool, the Very Revd Dr Pete
Wilcox, said that the meetings of the Talent Working Group which
fed into the report had been "unfailingly stimulating theologically
- sparky and rewarding. . . Some of our most stimulating
conversations were about the place, in any proposed 'system', of
The funding for implementation of the report's recommendations
comes from the £12 million the Church Commissioners released for
research and development in 2014-2016, "in accordance with the
On Tuesday, the Revd Amanda Fairclough, who joined the
Commissioners this year, said: "It seems the Green recommendations
are likely to be implemented as they stand. That does not mean they
are necessarily the best solutions to the problems identified, but
neither does it mean they are the only solutions that will ever be
tried. It seems reasonable to me that we should trust our leaders
and judge the recommendations by their outcomes."