THE decision by Canon Paul Williams to resign as Vicar of Christ Church, Fulwood, was made freely with the full support of both the Bishop of Sheffield, Dr Pete Wilcox, and the Bishop of Maidstone, the Rt Revd Rod Thomas, Bishop Thomas said this week.
Canon Williams’s resignation after 15 years as Vicar was announced by one of the church’s assistant curates, the Revd Peter Scamman, on 27 June. It followed a visitation commissioned by the two bishops, at the joint invitation of both the PCC and Canon Williams, and conducted during the first part of this year.
Christ Church, Fulwood, is a conservative Evangelical church receiving the ministry of Bishop Thomas under the House of Bishops’ Declaration, and is one of the larger churches in the C of E: it has an average Sunday attendance of more than 1000 adults and children. It has been involved in four church-plants since 2009.
The objectives of the visitation were threefold, Bishop Thomas said this week. “To hear and articulate the concerns that have been expressed about leadership and people management by those employed or in office at Christ Church, Fulwood, since January 2017; to hear and articulate responses to these concerns from those who have line-management responsibilities at Christ Church, Fulwood; to identify the issues that need to be addressed arising out of this enquiry and to make recommendations to the Bishops.”
The Articles of Inquiry did not permit wider distribution of the completed visitation report, Bishop Thomas said. They state that “the recommendations will be released to the PCC, and may be released to the participants in the interviews and to the congregation, but not more widely.”
In his June announcement, Mr Scamman said that Canon Williams had announced his resignation on 22 June, in the light of the visitation report. “I realise this news may come as a shock to many,” he said. “There may be some who are concerned to read Paul’s account of his experience over this last year, and are concerned for him and the family. There may be others who are concerned to read Paul’s acknowledgement that there are some within the church family who have been left feeling hurt by their experience of his leadership.
“Clearly, this is a difficult moment for us as a church. Over the next few weeks and months there will be a need for all of us to engage with what’s happened, and to move forward together with the gospel.”