Top Heavy Church?

Parishes and parochial clergy in the Church of England are growing tired of the pressures and demands put upon them by increasingly bureaucratic and centralised diocesan authorities. The day to day life of worship and pastoral care in the parish no longer seems to be a priority.

One example comes from Durham diocese where it was stated that an additional Archdeacon (complete with secretary etc) was needed to assist with the ‘downsizing’ of parochial ministry! And a different example comes from the Diocese of Southwell where, until parishes objected, the diocesan Archdeacons’ Visitation, to which all churchwardens and clergy were called, was planned for Ascension Day!

Many more examples can be given, and readers are welcome to post examples as comments here.

A recent correspondent to The Times makes a very good point when he writes:

[The Church of England’s] organisation is in urgent need of fundamental reform.

Three trends have emerged in the past 50 years: a drastic decline in church membership; a significant reduction in the number of parish clergy; and an increase in the number of bishops and their associated administrative supporters.

The Church has been seriously top heavy for many years. It has limped from one financial crisis to another. Instead of cutting down at the top, it has pruned the network of parish clergy. This has had a direct adverse effect on church mebership and hence reduced the financial support coming from the parishes.”



2 Responses to “Top Heavy Church?”

  1. Adrian Says:

    I’m from the Diocese of Southwell (or Southwell & Nottingham as it became a couple of years ago) and I was unaware of the fact that the Archdeacon’s visitation had been scheduled for Ascension Day. It doesn’t surprise me though.

    I agree wholeheartedly that there are too many chiefs and too few indians in the Church of England nowadays. Currently we have three times the number of bishops we had a hundred years ago and about a third of the number of active clergy. Not only this this unnecessary – it’s also poor value for money. You can get at least two vicars for the price of one bishop and in terms of what they achieve the parish clergy are far more effective than the episcopate.

  2. Adrian Says:

    I don’t think there is any doubt that the Church of England has become top heavy in recent decades. We now have a third of the parish clergy we had a hundred years ago and three times as many bishops. Apart from anything else this is wasteful, poor value for money and unbelievably inefficient. You can get two vicars for the price of one Bishop and they’re far better value for money.

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