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In Each Generation

The title, “in each generation”, is drawn from the preface to the Church of England’s declaration of assent which talks of the Church being called upon to proclaim the Christian faith “afresh in each generation.” It is also the title of the paper from our two Archbishops, Justin & Sentamu, heralding the reform programme being proposed by the Archbishops' Council and the House of Bishops with the support of the Church Commissioners.

On 12th January 2015, the Archbishops started a week of releases of reports that set out the need for urgent action to reverse the decline in our church.  The thread running through all of the reports is what we need to do over the next few years to enable the Church of England to be an effective agent for the gospel in this country in the generations to come, as it has been over past generations.

Based on a number of key indicators that have emerged from the previous study "From Anecdote to Evidence" and subsequent consultations the proposals are far reaching and will impact Ministerial Selection & Training, Bureaucracy and the means of Distribution of Historic Funds.

Focusing on the need for renewed understanding of Discipleship and a more intentional use of Lay and Ordained Ministry, the reports set out the need to spend our money in areas where growth is needed, to simplify our procedures in parishes where current practices hinder mission and to ensure that ministerial development throughout the church is reinvigorated and mission focused.

The structures of the central church will also be put under the spotlight to ensure efficiency. A further set of reports will follow in due course.

Of the main features of the current processes it is worth pointing to a few which will change significantly.

  • The Sheffield formula for deployment of stipendiary clergy will go.
  • There will be a new formula to replace the Darlow formula which is currently used to distribute funds to needier Dioceses.
  • The current list of candidates who are deemed ready for preferment to higher office will be scrapped and a new process for "fast tracking" will be introduced.
  • The current inter-generational equity restraint on the distribution of Church Commissioners' funds will be flexed to allow for pump priming of these initiatives.

At this stage most of these initiatives are for further consultation and views are now being sought on their likely effectiveness.

All the reports can be found here.  They are referenced GS1976 to GS1982:

  • GS 1976 - A programme for reform and renewal. A note from the Archbishops
  • GS 1977 - Discipleship
  • GS 1978 - Resourcing the Future Task Group Report
  • GS 1979 - Resourcing Ministerial Education Task Group Report
  • GS 1980 - Simplification Task Group Report
  • GS 1981 - Church Commissioners' and Inter-Generational Equity
  • GS 1982 - Discerning and Nurturing Senior Leaders

Please feel free to contact me at Tim.hind252@btinternet.com with any thoughts or use the forum page links on the CofE website on the left hand side of the Media Centre web page.  

Tim Hind