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