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Three more archdeaconries for the diocese of Liverpool

26 June 2015


Beauty spot: canal boats at Moore Nature Reserve, near Warrington 

Beauty spot: canal boats at Moore Nature Reserve, near Warrington 

A REORGANISATION in the diocese of Liverpool will create three new archdeaconries as the first step in reducing the administrative burden across the diocese.

The discussion paper Fit for Mission, published in March by the Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes, calls for a "sharper, lighter Church", and says that "some of our current structures are draining our energy and slowing us down. . . We are not geared up to be institutionally agile."

Liverpool diocese could not "claim to operate on a one-priest-per-parish model at any time since we were formed in 1880", the paper says. It suggests a bold new way of looking at parishes as families of congregations, with a mix of ordained and lay leaders.

The two archdeacons are "excellent, but are working at full tilt", the Bishop says in the paper. "They cannot be everywhere."

The paper says: "The role of archdeacon has changed hugely over the past few years, with a much greater emphasis on structural and strategic elements. But we don't just want archdeacon-bureaucrats; we want archdeacon-missioners and archdeacon-pastors." They should be a resource in the routine life of the parishes, "giving quality time to their people and congregations".

A diocesan spokesman, Stuart Haynes, said: "We are understaffed. It creates burdens on our bishops, and it creates a situation where our archdeacons' time is spent tackling emergencies. Through sharing the ministry we will have a greater ability to support clergy, area deans, and parishes in their work to grow a bigger Church to make a bigger difference."

The three new areas created alongside the Archdeaconry of Liverpool will be Knowsley and Sefton, St Helens and Warrington, and Wigan and West Lancashire, possibly following local-authority lines. The diocese acknowledges complexities involved in what it is trying to achieve, in that the position of archdeacon carries legal burdens and responsibilities enshrined in canon law.

Mr Haynes said: "We will want to carry out wider consultation before we can formally create the new archdeaconry areas. But the leadership challenge is pressing. We cannot afford to wait."

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