Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Justin Welby's Most Important Job?

Yet another Church of England bishop has announced his retirement today, with the Bishop of Guildford taking a well-earned rest in September. I was trying to work out how many Diocesan posts are now due to be filled in the next 12 months or so. By my reckoning it includes:

Bath and Wells
Manchester (probably decided but not announced - see comments)
with Blackburn recently decided, and 7 other Bishops aged 65 or over, who will have to retire in the next 4-5 years. There may well be others who decide to retire at 65 (a further 6 are aged 61-64).

The full list of bishops, along with the CNC schedule for appointments, is here.

There's a fairly clear explanation of the appointment process here - for each appointment, the local diocese (via its Vacancy in See committee, a group of around 24 people based on positions held and clergy and lay elections) draws up a diocesan profile and person spec, and sends 6 reps to the Crown Nominations Commission. The CNC also includes 6 reps from General Synod, and the 2 Archbishops. That's where shortlisting, interviewing and the final appointment is made, with names submitted to the Prime Minister for the formality of approval.

Justin Welby, as Archbishop of Canterbury, has a massive strategic opportunity here. The CofE has committed itself to 3 'Quinquennium Goals' (makes the pulse quicken, doesn't it?), the first of which is 'to take forward the numerical and spiritual growth of the Church of England.' That gives the Archbishop, as chair of the CNC, a pretty solid starting point for making the appointments above (plus any I've missed). If this is our top priority, then the top line of any person spec for these appointments is someone who can lead a diocese into numerical and spiritual growth.

It was pretty clear at the church growth strategies conference the other week that a massive amount depends on the leadership of the Diocesan bishops. Without that leadership, it's very hard to get the resources and energy of the church behind any agreed strategy. With that leadership, a diocese can change direction in significant ways, and see decline reversed and turned into growth. Justin Welby may have only the power of persuasion as 'first among equals', but with the chance to shape the leadership of 1/3 of CofE dioceses in the next 5 years, there is a great opportunity here to bring quality leaders into place.

1 comment:

  1. Manchester is presumably decided too. But not yet announced.