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Further reflections on the Green report

02 January 2015


From the Revd Keith Elford

Sir, - Having read Dean Percy's article on the Green report (Comment, 12 December) and the outraged responses ( Letters, 19/26 December), I was agog to read the report itself - especially as I was involved in the review of the predecessor senior-leadership development programme.

Having now done so, I wonder how people have drawn the wholly negative conclusions that they appear to have drawn. I see a great deal to admire and agree with. The report is insistent, for example, that all training will be set firmly in a theological context, and will avoid uncritical managerialism, though you would hardly think so from the commentary to date.

As I read the report, a great deal of it seems appropriately challenging to the status quo, and, in intention, at least, is highly welcome; for I do not doubt that the Church needs more capable organisational leadership as a vital part of its response to years of decline.

I have some reservations, however. First, the plan to develop a talent pool of emerging leaders does seem too elitist. I would prefer a more purposeful reform of continuing ministerial development across the board - and that may be coming.

Second, the success of the programmes for senior leaders will be dependent on how they are implemented. I do not doubt that business schools have a lot to offer, but they are not noted for their understanding of the Church, and I do worry that the learning will be insufficiently anchored in a deep understanding both of Church and organisation and the relationship between the two.

Third, the secrecy about the report and the failure to publish it before agreeing (and beginning to implement) its proposals seems like a serious own goal. It is the most basic truism of organisational change that you need to engage people if they are to accept change.

Above all, we need a much wider and deeper conversation about the purpose, nature, and future of the Church of England if we are to create a context in which particular initiatives like this can be conceived and received most appropriately.

15 Canford Drive, Addlestone
Surrey KT15 2HH


From Brigadier Norman Allen (Rtd)

Sir, - The Green report would seem to bring the promotion of church leadership into the 21st century, reflecting the rigorous talent-grooming long practised by the Armed Forces.

The combination of practical experience in a wide variety of roles, searching annual reports, and peer-group training, with the maintenance of healthy minds and bodies, has served the nation well. The Chaplain General may advise.

Norman Allen (Reader)
18 Viewfield Road
London SW18 1NA


From the Revd Alan Crawley

Sir, - Have the authors of the Green report considered the law of unintended consequences? While I favour bringing some management techniques into ministry, there are significant differences between management and the Church which can lead to odd outcomes.

For example, since appointment to incumbencies became by interview, parishes that would be good first incumbencies are often offered to those with more experience. One consequence of this is that I am aware of parishes that could be described as "difficult" to which a curate has been appointed for a first incumbency. In business, this would be less likely to happen, as the more difficult roles would carry greater rewards, an approach not yet being recommended.

If we are to endorse fully the management approach, will bishops, deans, and archdeacons find themselves "sacked" if they are seen to fail, as those in management are?

The Rectory, 25 Upper Hale Road
Farnham, Surrey GU9 0NX

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