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A Note from the Bishop of Ely on “The Green Report”

The Development and Appointments Group would like to thank Lord Green for this report and for his leadership of the group charged by us and the Archbishops to review the way in which the Church prepares clergy for senior posts and how they are encouraged to develop and grow in their discipleship and leadership in mission once they are appointed.  I would also like to thank the members of various task groups who contributed as ideas were developed, and those who have taken part over the longer term - in shaping source material through being members of nomination panels, participating in diocesan consultations for bishops and deans and participating in research projects. This work has emerged from a long period of reflection on the complexity of senior clerical leadership - a ministry in which we are called to be priests, prophets and theologians as well as to be leaders of Christ' great gift, the Church - a body which needs constant nurturing and stewarding to ensure that its organisational life flourishes and resources our call to mission.

The report challenges the nature and quality of the support currently provided in both areas - a challenge we must take seriously as we become increasingly aware of the extent of the issues facing the Church in its witness to and sharing of the Gospel.  The framework prioritises:

  • Supporting bishops and deans in their discipleship and so enabling them in their ministry as confident leaders and evangelists releasing energy for mission and growth
  • Enabling bishops in their individual and collegial leadership of the Church and in the Nation
  • Developing those who may be called to senior posts in the near future and in years to come
  • Encouraging the importance of collaborative teams, both lay and ordained, as critical to the sustainable ministry of the Church
  • Developing the management skills of those in  senior posts to ensure that they can oversee resources, structures and people with confidence
  • Supporting more individual formation, including their discipleship and life of prayer, so that they are able to embrace these challenges.

The report sets out theological and organisational imperatives for greater attention to the agenda above.  It has long been recognised that there is significant potential in the creative dialogue between the two models. Clergy, in their ministry, live out this dynamic every day - priest and leader, evangelist and church manager - and the report presents this tension starkly in the different language used. The proposals developed will provide a space for participants to explore both of these dimensions.

 

Leadership Development for Bishops and Deans

The report sets out a general framework for leadership development which is set in the context of the goals for the Church identified by General Synod (Challenges for a New Quinquennium GS1815) - contributing to the common good, reshaping ministry and leading the Church for Growth. Various Task Groups set up to review specific issues about ministry and structures more generally will report in January for discussion in General Synod in February and their work serves to emphasise the importance of giving those in senior posts realistic confidence in their ability  to manage well, to handle complexity and to nurture the maturity of the organisation.    We need to equip those in senior posts to respond to the challenges as priests, prophets and theologians and also as leaders of an organisation operating properly in a world with high standards provided by legal frameworks of compliance and high aspirations around the professional  support and oversight of people.  Proposed programmes are set out.

As well as learning together in programmes and learning groups, the importance of personal reflection and space is recognised in the emphasis on induction and ministerial development review.

 

A learning community for future holders of senior posts

We are all aware of the steep learning curve for those who take on senior posts whether as a bishop, a dean, an archdeacon, a head of a theological college or a leader of a mission agency, to name but a few and as responsible stewards it is important that we prepare them for challenging context set out above. This report sets out a process which enables proper preparation for wider responsibility to be held within a clear Christian context of development of personal spirituality and prayer. Arriving at moments of appointment and hoping that possible candidates may have had suitable development and possess the gifts needed is to abandon our responsibility.

We particularly welcome the emphasis on the need for inclusion and diversity within this community. The passing of the measure necessary to enable the ordination of women to the episcopate, the Five Principles of the House of Bishops Declaration and sharing our hopes for greater BAME representation in senior posts is only the beginning. Declarations are easy, implementation is hard and we need to ensure that these commitments are lived out in action. The process of inclusion across senior posts requires preparation long in advance. It is essential that within a few years those making appointments of wider responsibility find a pool of people who are diverse, inclusive and all equally able validly to be considered in the process of the final stages of discernment and appointment.

We have been given an opportunity to revitalize outdated lists and processes and the report sets out a discernment process which can be carried out in a thoughtful and leisurely manner over a number of years. We aspire to excellent pastoral care for those who will be and those who might not be appointed to senior posts. It is also absolutely essential that we have institutional processes that are seen to be fair and just as the current experience of too many is one of profound rejection.

This work stands within our love for the whole people of God: the Church, gathered and dispersed, stands as a holy nation, a royal priesthood, and God's own people. The Task Groups are looking at a portfolio of reforms being proposed cover the whole range of our ministry and mission and proposing fundamental changes to ensure effective ministry and mission to the many communities we serve.  Those serving in senior posts will be called upon to lead these changes and we cannot afford to neglect the development and preparation of those who will be called to implement these changes.

All these projects are the result of much prayer and discernment of the call of the Spirit to the church at this time.  As we are called by God to be "custodians of the gospel that transforms individuals and societies. .. to respond radically and imaginatively to new contexts" in the twenty first century, we welcome this report and the framework it provides to enable us in our ministry now. Those who are called to leadership in the Church will always need qualities such as wisdom, prayerfulness and the charisma of discernment and these gifts are exercised in a particular context - "afresh in each generation".  We seek to share the gospel in challenging times and this report enables us to recognize that we must also respond to the importance of high quality organization, of team work and colleagueship  and of management of resources. These programmes will enable us to use the wisdom that God so graciously gives with the maximium effectiveness in the world He longs to save.

This is a working document and thus far has been shared and discussed with bishops and deans and through them with their teams, with lay and clergy development professionals and with the Archbishops' Council. The level of interest generated by it in the wider church has encouraged us to make it more available.  It stimulates questioning about many issues related to senior leadership and is a starting point for work in many more areas.  This report has provided us with a framework for serious investment in those who are senior posts; those have commissioned it, those who shape it and those who participate will learn as programmes are designed and implemented how this this agenda should develop in the future.

 

+Stephen Ely

Chair of the Development and Appointments Group (DAG) - a sub-committee of the House of Bishops with oversight of the development for senior clerical posts as well as the appointments processes to them.

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