New legislation governing septuagenarian priests
The Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 came into effect on 1 July 2017 changing certain aspects of the provisions governing how clergy over 70 hold office. Patrick Shorrock, HR Adviser at the Archbishops’ Council, summarized these in the National Archdeacons’ Forum: Archdeacons’ News, Bulletin no. 26 July 2017, and has kindly permitted us to post the following revised version.
The Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 came into effect on 1 July 2017. As a result, the provisions governing how clergy over 70 hold office have changed in certain respects. The effect of the amendments on the Terms of Service Regulations can be found on the Church of England website here: see the new Regulation 29A (and the consequential omissions from Regulation 29).
The changes are of a limited nature and are designed to provide additional flexibility when appointing, or renewing the appointments of, clergy over 70.
The main changes are as follows.
- The existing possibilities in relation to the deployment of priests in charge and assistant curates over 70 are now extended to incumbents who hold office under common tenure. This means that it is now possible for common tenure incumbents over 70 to remain in office for longer than the previous two year limit, and for clergy over 70 to be appointed to a new office as incumbent. (Incumbents who have not opted in to common tenure remain subject to the old retirement and limited extension provisions in the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975. However, these incumbents may opt into common tenure at any time.)
- Bishops, archdeacons, deans or residentiary canons who hold office on common tenure may have their terms extended when they reach 70, but only until their 75th birthday. No-one over 70 may be appointed to a new office as bishop, archdeacon, dean or residentiary canon.
- In order for someone over 70 to remain in office under the new regulation 29A, the Bishop or Archbishop must issue a specific written direction to that effect. Whether or not to do so is a decision for the Bishop or Archbishop.
- New guidance from the Archbishops’ Council – to which the Bishop must have regard – has been prepared. It includes a suggested form of words for a Bishop’s direction. Further supporting material will be produced in response to any questions arising about the application of the guidance.
The guidance is available here.
There is no need to make any changes now for clergy who are already over 70 if their term of office has already been extended, unless there is a desire to extend the term beyond the original extension. It will be desirable to have conversations with the office holder in good time before the extension expires so that appropriate action can be taken, whether to enable the office holder to plan for retirement (including arrangements for housing) or to ensure that the appropriate health assessments and consultations have been carried out before the extension is further renewed. Any extensions from 1 July 2017 must be under the new provisions, not under the provisions of the Ecclesiastical Offices (Age Limit) Measure 1975.
With thanks to Patrick Shorrock and the National Archdeacons’ Forum for permission to reproduce this information