A THOROUGH spring clean of the Church of England's "unhelpful"
and "restrictive" legislation is proposed in a report by a
simplification task group, published on Wednesday.
The task group, chaired by the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd
Pete Broadbent, concentrates on rules that touch on clergy
appointment and parish organisation.
The group was given the task of considering "concerns raised
about the constraints caused to the mission and growth of the
Church of England by existing canons, legislation, regulations and
procedures". It was to "bring forward options and proposals for
simplification and deregulation" by November 2014. Its work has
already been seen and approved by the House of Bishops and the
Archbishops' Council. The report goes before to the General Synod
next month, and again in July.
It includes caveats. "We are realistic that deregulation and
simplification on its own will not bring about a renewal of mission
of the Church of England or the re-evangelisation of our nation,"
the group says. "It is not our purpose to remove important checks
and balances, nor undermine rights and duties."
The group believes, none the less, that "the work of
simplification can make a vital difference and contribute to the
wider missionary task". It complains of "a plethora of legislative
complexity which, we believe, acts as a barrier to experiment and
innovation - and thus frustrates the Church's missionary
The group targets three areas:
• immediate, serious hindrances to mission, including pastoral
reorganisation and diocesan/parochial management;
• weighty and worthy bureaucracy and procedure that is of its
time, but is no longer fit for its purpose; and
• matters that generate redundant paperwork which could easily
A key point is that each of the simplification group's
recommendations emerged from consultations with dioceses. As many
as 20 dioceses highlighted particular pieces of legislation which
they found troublesome.
The group reckons that it can work fruitfully for the next
quinquennium - the five-year life of the next General Synod, to be
elected this autumn. Its first recommendations target legislation
covering ministerial deployment and terms of service, as well as
pastoral reorganisation, contained in the Clergy (Terms of Service)
Measure (and Regulations) 2009 and the Mission and Pastoral Measure
It acknowledges that some of the work will be complex, given the
tie-in between C of E and state legislation: "Changes to
regulations can be achieved by a one-stage procedure; changes to
Measures and Canons will need several stages of work." It will fall
to the General Synod to agree and implement many of the
For the next stage, the group envisages wider consultation to
identify areas that relate to parish ministry.
In a video introduction to the simplification process, Bishop
Broadbent says: "Of course, the genius of the Church of England is
that it is an ordered Church: our legal framework is part of the
law of the land, and has prevented us from sliding into
sectarianism and irresponsibility.
"But there has been a tendency over recent years, in framing our
legislation, to over-prescribe, to defend against every possible
eventuality, and to create a defensive bureaucracy that is in many
instances no longer fit for purpose.
"The simplification group recognises that a programme for change
runs the risk of being time-consuming, intricate, and at times
controversial. There will need to be a balance between the rights
and duties that legislation is framed to protect and the need to
make a missional difference in the life of our dioceses and
"Identify the essential: what makes for good governance, proper
legality, and a clear process? Eliminate the rest.
Clergy (Terms of Service) Measure 2009 and
Regulation 29 and short-term appointments
1. Amend Regulation 29 to extend the circumstances in which
offices under common tenure may be held for a fixed or limited term
a. Extension (for no more than a year) of the short-term licence
of a curate who has satisfactorily completed IME 4-7 but is still
looking for a post of first responsibility.
b. Appointment of an assistant curate as a locally supported
minister provided he or she is not priest-in-charge of the
c. Appointment to interim or turnaround posts for three years
(renewable once only). Before designating a post as an interim
appointment the Bishop must obtain the consent of the DMPC, office
holder (if any) and PCC.
2. The Archbishops' Council to issue guidance on the designation
of posts as interim posts.
Statements of Particulars
3. Streamline Statements of Particulars (SoPS) for
Self-Supporting Ministers, including by:
a. Simplifying arrangements for sickness reporting and time
b. Amending Regulation 27 so that the need to provide a medical
certificate applies only to clergy in receipt of a stipend.
4. We do not propose changes to the capability procedure, which
rightly reflects best practice in the modern world. The
accompanying guidance, however, needs to be revised to emphasise
• The periods for improvement (as distinct from the expiry of
warnings) do not have to be lengthy;
• Using the procedure should be a last resort;
• Full use needs to be made of other ways of helping clergy to
be more effective such as MDR.
Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011
New form of Bishop's Pastoral Order
5. Introduce a new class of Bishop's Pastoral Order covering a
range of "administrative" decisions which do not significantly
impact on the legal rights of individuals or the status of churches
(e.g. creation or alteration of archdeaconries or deaneries,
dissolution of vacant archdeaconry, alteration of benefice or
parish names, termination of group ministries). Remove the right of
statutory interested parties to be consulted about such decisions
and to make representations to the Church Commissioners.
Streamlined consultation on draft Schemes and other Pastoral
6. Streamline consultation of statutory interested parties on
substantive pastoral reorganisation, limiting this to two stages:
initial consultation on the issues, followed by consultation on
proposals in the form of a draft Scheme or Order.
Proposals implementing a deanery plan
7. A statutory presumption in favour of proposals to implement a
Deanery Plan validated by the DMPC unless material considerations
dictate otherwise. For such proposals consultation should be on the
draft scheme only (initial consultation stage on the issues is not
Arrangements for drafting and publishing draft
8. Drafting, publishing and consulting on draft schemes to be
undertaken either by the Diocese or the Church Commissioners, as
the Bishop desires.
Mode of consultation
9. Provide for notices to be read out at services in affected
parishes, and draft schemes publicised on the Church of England
website (with links on diocesan websites), to improve consultation
Representations and Public Hearings
10. Simplify arrangements for dealing with representations in
respect of draft Schemes and Orders by:
a. Endorsing the Church Commissioners' emerging proposal to
simplify its public hearing process through a pre-hearing sift to
determine cases which can be dealt with on the paperwork;
b. Giving the Commissioners a power, exercisable with the
Bishop's consent, to amend a Scheme or Order, having considered
representations, and to determine whether a further second-stage
consultation is required.
Teams and Groups
11. Streamline the provisions for teams and groups, including
removal of enabling provisions for matters more suitably dealt with
by licence, and of administrative requirements, such as holding
meetings, which do not really belong in legislation.
12. Conduct a wider review of the operation of teams and groups,
particularly in the rural context, taking into account other
emerging forms of collaborative ministry.
13. In respect of church buildings:
a. Amend Canon B14A to enable the Bishop to direct the use of a
building for occasional services of worship only to support the
concept of "festival churches".
b. Support the establishment of a group to review issues
regarding church buildings and, in particular, the options for
change on how closed church buildings are dealt with.
c. Streamlining the consultation arrangements for draft schemes
providing for alternative uses for closed church buildings by
removing the need for statutory public consultation on such
proposals (except where there are burials within the building or
any surrounding churchyard).
d. Simplify the provisions dealing with membership of the
Churches Conservation Trust to enable the appointment of additional
Bishops' Mission Orders
14. Simplify the arrangements for Bishops' Mission Orders (BMOs)
a. Streamlining the recommended practice on initial exploration
to address concerns regarding its complexity;
b. Removing the requirement for an initial order to operate for
no more than five years;
c. Removing much of the prescriptive provision relating to the
role of the Visitor;
d. Providing additional guidance on matters such as charitable
status and representation;
e. Serving notice of BMOs on the Church Commissioners to
facilitate sharing good practice and collation of statistics.
Compensation for loss of Office (by
15. Amend the existing provisions for compensation for loss of
office as a result of pastoral reorganisation by:
a. Replacing the existing compensation provisions calculated on
future service and financial loss with compensation based on the
length of past stipendiary ecclesiastical service in years;
b. Providing a lump sum cash payment based on one month's
stipend for every year of service, capped at twenty one months'
stipend in total (but providing for a minimum cash payment of six
months stipend regardless of length of service);
c. Providing suitable housing for a period of six months;
d. Compensating clergy for loss of pensionable service as part
of the lump sum;
e. Applying the compensation arrangements to all office holders
regardless of when they took office including clergy on historic
Other Measures/ Areas
Endowments and Glebe Measure 1976
16. Remove the requirement to consult incumbents and PCCs on
Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986
17. In relation to the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986:
a. Provide for the right of presentation to lapse to the
Diocesan Bishop rather than the Archbishop of the Province after
b. Examine the scope for further streamlining of processes and
paperwork. Other aspects of the Measure could also be simplified
and brought up to date.
c. Consider whether a more fundamental review of the Measure
should be undertaken.
National Clergy Payroll
18. The Church Commissioners to provide clarification and
improved guidance on when a post is an office and thus eligible to
be paid through the clergy payroll (in addition to further planned
discussions with HMRC on the tax implications of HLC and provided
housing where clergy are not full time office holders).
Availability of Guidance
19. Encourage further consideration of how best to publicise the
availability of guidance on legislation and encourage greater ease
of access through the Church of England website.