From the Revd Jeremy Fletcher
Sir, - As a former management consultant, the Revd Brian
Cranwell (Comment, 1
August) will be all too familiar with the description of his
profession as those who borrow your watch to tell you the time. But
his analysis of Church of England clergy as untrained for working
collaboratively smacks of his borrowing a timepiece and telling us
it is the 1950s.
I do not deny that there are some clergy, perhaps even some
bishops, who feel ill at ease with the requirements to work in
wider teams. The implication that this is because nothing has been
done about this from within the Church needs to be challenged. My
ordination training, nearly three decades ago, had the need to work
collaboratively at its heart. We were assessed on our group work.
We had even digested the Tiller report. Post-ordination training in
the late 1980s considered models of team working, time management,
and the enabling of the gifts of all. The parishes I served made
much of lay leadership, including elderships, within the existing
I was prepared for my first incumbency by the offer of good
resources for collaborative working. Through the 1990s, I was then
part of a team that helped other ministry groupings to confront
just the issues that Mr Cranwell raises. The diocese of York, with
most others, has committed huge resources to a pattern of
leadership training which has these matters front and centre, and
is developing wider training for multi-parish ministry, which
builds on long-established versions across the country.
Twenty-six years into ordained ministry, I am all too aware of
the ways in which I still tend towards DIY benevolent dictatorship.
Parish life still offers every opportunity to be a lone ranger. If
Mr Cranwell offers some coaching and I am anywhere near, I will be
first in the queue. But, for the past 30 years I have been required
to reflect on this at every turn, and been given high-quality
resources to work with, and I am grateful to those who have worked
tirelessly to make it so.
Minster Vicarage, Highgate
Beverley HU17 0DN