CI churches to be part of Diocese of Salisbury – report
CHANNEL ISLANDS deaneries are to have a fresh start under the episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Salisbury.
The Archbishop of Canterbury’s commission on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the wider Church of England has published its final report, including that recommendation.
‘It’s very important for us as a church to have that sense of belonging to something bigger, but day-to-day there will be no difference to churchgoers,’ the Dean of Guernsey, the Very Rev. Tim Barker, explained.
‘For 450 years or so we were linked to the Bishop of Winchester, but that became problematic so we have been well supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Rt Rev. Trevor Willmott, but we knew that was a temporary arrangement.’
He said the Archbishop of Canterbury’s report was welcome and was an elegant solution in terms of belonging and relationships with Salisbury.
In March 2014, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Dover and the Deans of Guernsey and Jersey signed an agreement so that Bishop Willmott, then Bishop of Dover, would assume interim oversight of the island parishes.
Following this, an Archbishop’s Commission would look at the longer-term relationship between the islands and the wider Church of England.
This followed the breakdown in the relationship between the islands and the Bishop of Winchester.
The Archbishop’s Commission started its work last year and visited both Guernsey and Jersey, meeting with a cross-section of civic and church representatives and a range of other stakeholders, including representatives from the Dioceses of Canterbury and Winchester.
With this process now concluded, the commission yesterday made recommendations which are intended to allow the Channel Island parishes to flourish within the wider life of the Church of England.
The recommendations of the report will now go forward to the General Synod and the island authorities for consideration and recommendation to the Privy Council.
Should the proposals be approved, autumn 2020 is the earliest that the attachment to Salisbury would take formal effect.
Until arrangements are finalised, Bishop Willmott will continue interim episcopal oversight of the islands.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, welcomed the report and its recommendations.
‘I am grateful to all in the Channel Islands and further afield who have given their time, energy and prayer during the consultation.
‘The aim of this commission was to identify an environment in which the church and all who worship in the islands can flourish together in Christ and within the wider life of the Church of England.’
He believed the recommendations in the report could allow for this to happen.
The Bishop of Salisbury, the Rt Rev. Nicholas Holtam, also welcomed the recommendations.
‘Together we will explore the opportunities this new relationship brings,’ he said.
‘I look forward to getting to know the people of the Channel Islands and when we agree the next steps will welcome them into our diocese. We will want a partnership in the Gospel that is good for all of us – a new chapter is opening in our shared life in Christ.’
Mr Barker said he looked forward to exploring with the Bishop of Salisbury and his colleagues the development of the mission and ministry in Guernsey once the Channel Islands deanery synods have accepted the commission’s recommendations and the legal processes are under way.
Grateful for their patience and understanding of Guernsey’s needs, Mr Barker said a church’s relationship with a bishop was crucial.