The Bishop of Chichester recently published his Charge following the 2016 Visitation
At Evensong on Friday 4th November 2016, the Bishop of Chichester, the Right Revd Dr Martin Warner, handed over his Charge to the Dean, Chapter and College of Canons. The Bishop undertook the Visitation to allow him to establish an overview of the Cathedral’s worship and mission: “carrying out an in-depth review of the life of the Cathedral would throw new light on the ways it can serve both its immediate community and the wider community of the church in Sussex”. The Charge includes the results and recommendations from the Visitation which took place in 2016.
The 2016 Visitation was the latest of three recent Visitations which examined different aspects of the operation of the Diocese.
Archbishop’s Chichester Visitation 2011-2013
On 13 May 2013, the Final Report for the enquiry into the operation of the diocesan child protection policies in the Diocese of Chichester was published. The report was written by Bishop John Gladwin and Chancellor Rupert Bursell QC, who were appointed in 2011 as commissaries of the former Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend and Right Honourable Dr Rowan Williams, to undertake the enquiry.
The 2013-2015 Diocesan Visitation
The 2013-2015 Episcopal Visitation involved all incumbents, who completed a detailed questionnaire (The Articles of Inquiry) relating to their ministerial life and the life of their parishes. These were followed up with visits to all the deaneries with face-to-face meetings between Bishop Martin, 215 clergy and 30 sequestrators (where parishes were undergoing a vacancy). The resulting Bishop’s Charge included the results and recommendations.
The 2016 Cathedral Visitation
The bishop’s intention to undertake a Visitation was announced on 8 December 2015 and details of the Visitation team were released on 22 January 2016. Bishop Martin said: “The 2016 Visitation will seek to enable the Cathedral to review and deepen its calling to fulfil the ministry set out in its Constitution and Statutes, in order to witness with ever greater joy, imagination, and generosity to the call to know, love, follow Jesus.”
Reflecting the provisions of S6 Cathedrals Measure 1999, the Statutes of Chichester Cathedral outline the vires of the bishop in relation to Visitations viz.
“5 THE BISHOP OF CHICHESTER
(g). The Bishop may hold a Visitation of the Cathedral when considers he desirable or necessary to do so or when requested the Council or the Chapter.
(h). In the course of a Visitation the Bishop may give such direction to the Chapter, to the holder of any office in the Cathedral or to any person employed by the Cathedral as will, I the opinion of the Bishop, better serve the due observance of the Constitution and Statutes.
(I). It shall be the duty of any person or body on whom functions are conferred by the Constitution and Statutes to act in accordance with any determination and direction of the Bishop under this Statute.
Findings of the 2016 Visitation
The Charge marks the culmination of a Bishop’s Visitation that has reviewed the whole diocese; inclusion of the Cathedral in that process is a statement of its importance in the apostolic life of the diocese. It draws on the observations of the Visitation team and comments made to them during the meetings on 27-29 April and 8-9 August, supplemented by: information about finance and governance supplied by Chapter; and by responses to an invitation to members of the Cathedral Community and the clergy of the diocese to submit comments. The findings and recommendations of the Charge are given under five headings: mission; governance; financial and property management; public engagement; impact. The Summary is reproduced below:
Visitation Directions from the Bishop to the Dean and Chapter
I direct that Chapter should identify an external facilitator with whom to set aside additional meeting time for reviewing its processes and structure, addressing its leadership, collaboration, audit of skills and succession planning, and the formation and implementation of a development plan.
I direct that in preparation for appointing a new Surveyor of the Fabric, Chapter should agree a brief that includes a statement about the Cathedral as sacred space and its other buildings and spaces as extensions of hospitality, and, as a matter of urgency, the provision of an inventory and collections management programme.
I direct that the Precentor should initiate a review of the music and liturgy department and its resourcing, as part of the expansion of the liturgical plan and its development, making recommendations to Chapter.
I direct that the Chancellor should undertake an audit of the evangelistic content and impact of all cathedral communications, making recommendations to Chapter.
I direct that the Dean’s engagement with the cathedral staff, volunteers and worshippers, with the diocese, and with the civic, cultural and political life of Sussex should find reference in the implementation of Chapter’s vision for teaching and worship by which the Cathedral serves God’s mission of love and salvation in Chichester.
I direct that the Dean and Chapter should meet with me in November 2017 to report on this Charge and its Directions.
+Martin Cicestr: Feast of All Saints, 2016
In our September round-up of ecclesiastical court judgments, we summarized the status of the Bishops’ Visitations at Exeter Cathedral, where the Bishop’s Charge had been published, and at Peterborough Cathedral, where the Bishop had announced his intention to institute a formal Bishop’s Visitation of the Cathedral. To these should be added the Cathedral Visitation of the Rt Revd Robert Paterson, Bishop of Sodor and Man earlier this year during which he invited questions and gathered views on the strengths and weaknesses of the Cathedral.
In The Legal Framework of the Church of England, (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1996, page 123), Norman Doe notes “[t]he bishop has…no duty to visit the cathedral at ‘regular intervals’ notwithstanding anything to the contrary in [the cathedral’s] statutes or in any rule in ecclesiastical law”; under S6(5) Cathedrals Measure 1999, “[t]he bishop may hold a visitation of the cathedral when he considers it desirable or necessary to do so or when requested by the Council or the Chapter”. The relative infrequency with which Cathedral Visitations were undertaken was highlighted in the Charge of the Bishop of Exeter (2016) in which he said:
“In recent times the last recorded Visitation was undertaken in 1959 by Bishop Robert Mortimer. In 1989 one was begun but not completed by Bishop Hewlett Thompson in an attempt to address the administrative weakness in the Cathedral.”
However, a survey undertaken for the BBC in January this year suggested “almost two-thirds of those running England’s Anglican cathedrals are concerned about their finances”; it therefore unsurprising that diocesan bishops are initiating formal Visitations and seeking assistance from external experts to report and advise on the financial management and the overall governance of their Cathedrals; furthermore, a Visitation empowers a bishop to give specific directions to the Cathedral Chapter and staff which they are required to follow.