From the Revd James Graham
Sir, - I am grateful to Canon Angela Tilby (Comment, 17 April) for
contrasting ministerial review for clergy with self-appraisal.
Until Common Tenure ushered in ministerial review, in the diocese
where I serve (Lichfield) self-appraisal took place, assisted by an
Participating in self-appraisal, I found it challenging and
helpful; and, as an "assister", I found the experiences of
colleagues uplifting, moving, and often humbling.
But self-appraisal has now gone, replaced by ministerial review,
with no transitional arrangements for freeholders such as me. I
have been "expected" and "strongly encouraged" to engage in
ministerial review; and it has even been suggested (inaccurately, I
hope) that, should I not do so, there will be no continuing
ministerial-development diocesan funding for me, despite the fact
that the benefice where my ministry is exercised contributes more
than £60,000 in parish share.
Dioceses appear to approach ministerial review quite
differently. Lichfield has a particularly bureaucratic,
box-ticking, and task-driven scheme, called a "1800 review", which
seems a bit odd and half-baked; and I am hoping that after a period
the scheme itself will be reviewed and adjusted to make opting in
more attractive and constructive. But my perception - am I right? -
is that ministerial review is really intended for Common Tenure
clergy, partly to provide a paper trail in case the history of a
clergy member's employment ends up in an Employment Tribunal: "S/he
may have had a breakdown through overwork, but we have written
evidence through ministerial review of our advice to attend a
course on How to Delegate."
Meanwhile, I am making my own arrangements for assisted
self-appraisal with a soul-friend. And I am left with a series of
questions. Why do differing diocesan schemes of ministerial review
have to be so varied, both in content and tone? Why cannot sensible
transitional arrangements be made for freeholders, instead of
saying to them, "It's ministerial review or we have nothing to
support you with"?And what proportion of
clergy/bishops/canons/archdeacons, etc., are still freeholders, as
opposed to being on Common Tenure? It seems strangely hard to find
out the answer to the last question.
Canon Tilby's commending of self-appraisal is very welcome. That
assisted self-appraisal could or should lead to the confessional
seems fine to me. That route encourages real, prayerful
self-scrutiny and great honesty, whereas ministerial review seems
to entail a legalistic recording of targets usefully attained.
Please could we aim for soul-searching instead of "outcomes"?
The Vicarage, Church Street
Eccleshall, Stafford ST21 6BY