The Archbishop of Canterbury
The Archbishop of Canterbury is the primus inter pares, or first among equals, of the Anglican Communion. Although he has no authority outside of the Church of England, he hosts and chairs the Lambeth Conference and Anglican Communion Primates' Meeting, and is president of the Anglican Communion Office. In this way, the Archbishop of Canterbury can be seen as being at the centre of the network of Anglican ministry.
Bishops provide the leadership for the Anglican Communion, in accordance with episcopal process. All bishops, constituting a worldwide College of Bishops, are considered to be equal in orders but they have a variety of different responsibilities, and in these some bishops are more senior than others.
All bishops, of diocesan rank and below, are styled the Right Reverend; more senior bishops and archbishops are styled as the Most Reverend. Most bishops oversee a diocese, some are consecrated to assist diocesan bishops in large or busy dioceses, and some are relieved of diocesan responsibilities so they can minister more widely (especially primates who concentrate on leading a member church of the Communion). Some member churches of the Anglican Communion ordain women as bishops and many more have prepared the legislation for women to become bishops.
Anglican bishops are often identified by the purple clergy shirt and cassock they are entitled to wear. However, bishops are permitted to wear other colours, and a former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, is frequently seen wearing a black cassock. Bishops also usually wear a pectoral cross and episcopal ring. The choir dress or convocation habit for bishops, which used to be their only vesture until pre-Reformation vestments were revived, consists of the cassock, rochet, chimere and tippet. Bishops carry a crosier as the sign of their ministry, and, on formal occasions, often wear a mitre and cope. When presiding at the Eucharist, most Anglican bishops now wear albs, stoles and chasubles.
The majority of bishops in the Anglican Communion are the spiritual, pastoral, and executive heads of dioceses. A diocesan bishop is the Ordinary of his or her diocese, and has wide-ranging legal and administrative responsibilities.
In larger or more populous dioceses, diocesan bishops may be assisted by one or more junior bishops. Where the role of an assistant bishop is a legal part of the structure of the diocese, he or she is known as a suffragan bishop.
The Bishop of Salisbury is the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, formerly Vicar of St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square. The two suffragans, the Bishop of Ramsbury and the Bishop of Sherborne, are able to function legally anywhere in the Diocese, and the Bishop of Salisbury may delegate any of his functions to them.
The office of Archdeacon is an ancient one and the duties of archdeacons have varied considerably down the centuries and also vary considerably between dioceses. Their statutory functions include the following:
- Assist the Suffragan bishops with clergy appointments
- Capability and grievance
- Disciplinary issues
- Faculties (planning consent for change in church buildings)
- General Disputes
- Individual pastoral care
- Pastoral re-organisation
- Parish difficulties or opportunities
- Share issues (parish contributions to diocesan finances including clergy costs)
Key elements of the role of an Archdeacon in the Diocese of Salisbury
- Play a full and active part in the common life of the senior leadership in the diocese in sharing in the oversight and development of the diocese within the Bishop’s Staff.
- Provide a senior priestly presence in their particular area of the diocese.
- Exercise the statutory and customary ministry of an Archdeacon in the Church of England within the Diocesan of Salisbury; fulfilling all archidiaconal and legal duties enabling the bishop to exercise proper episcopal oversight.
- Alongside local responsibilities assume appropriate Diocesan, national and possibly international portfolios.
- Work alongside the Suffragan Bishop of the local county, the Bishop and Archdeacons’ Office staff, and colleagues from across the Diocese to facilitate the local delivery of Diocesan strategy and policy in a creative and appropriate fashion.
- Work alongside the rural deans in the area in ensuring good appointment processes, pastoral care and support for clergy and their families, and the encouraging and developing of clergy and parishes in mission and ministry.
“Churchwardens, when admitted, are the officers of the Bishop. They shall discharge such duties as are by law and custom assigned to them; they shall be foremost in representing the laity and in co-operating with the Incumbent …..”
“In the Churchwardens is vested the property in the plate, ornaments and other moveable goods of the church, and they shall keep an inventory thereof….”
Synopsis of Legal Requirements:
- To keep the inventory up to date.
- To keep a log book of alterations and repairs.
- To inspect the fabric and produce the annual fabric report. Every 5 years ensure that the PCC arranges for the inspection by the church architect. Report on the work done.
- Responsible for the cleanliness and general appearance of the church and the churchyard.
- Take, count and lock away, or hand over to the Treasurer, the collections in church in conjunction with the sidesmen.
- Attend meetings of the PCC and the PCC Standing Committee as ex-officio member.
- Ensure the PCC meets its financial obligations.
- Collaborate and co-operate with the Incumbent and have a duty of care to him/her.
- To present any matters he thinks should be brought to the Bishop’s attention.
Other Tasks – to do, or ensure are done.
- Attend Churchwarden’s Admission Service.
- Attend Team meetings.
- Ensure wine, wafers and candles are available.
- Arrange the church cleaning and flower rosters.
- Select hymns with the Organist (3 times per year).
- Arrange lesson readers and mark up the lectern bible.
- Place the hymn numbers on the board(s).
- Put on the lights, heaters and close ventilators.
- Place the crucifix and flowers on the sill behind the altar.
- Light the candles.
- Place the chalice on the altar and the collection plate on the stand.
- Take the collection.
- Tidy up, turn off lights and heaters, open the ventilators.
- Lock and unlock the church daily or as required.
- Be aware of any visits/events and arrange ‘meeters’ and ‘greeters’.
Finally, this is a daunting list but it need not be if individuals are well organised, and the very best way of being well organised is to have a reliable team of parishioners to whom many of the above tasks can be delegated.
As the established Church, the Church of England is part of everyday life across the whole of the country, not just for those who choose to attend. Wherever we live in England, each person is a member of an ecclesiastical parish, with all the rights and privileges that this entails.
Each person has the right to be baptised and married in their parish Church, and to be buried in the churchyard or local cemetery, as well as having the services of the clergy at other important times. But care of the local community is not just confined to the “occasional offices.” The clergy in each parish have pastoral care for each resident and are available to all people. Many residents are not aware that prayers in church are offered daily to God on behalf of the community, sharing all the joys and sorrows of those who live in this area and beyond.
Coupled with this is the work carried out by other members of the Church, often done in an informal way. An important part of Christianity is being of service to those around us, and this goes on each and every day of the year. In parish churches we aim to support the local community in prayer and action, giving caring help in all aspects of life, both good and bad.
Sharing in the pastoral care are several Lay Pastoral Assistants (LPAs) in whom the Church has discerned special gifts. They are people of prayer who reflect on the dilemmas of modern life in the light of the Bible and Christian tradition; and who want to communicate to others the message of Christ through caring action. They are willing to develop creatively their abilities in teamwork, listening and caring, acting as an example and encouraging others to use their gifts.
LPAs have a variety of roles including:
- Supporting the sick and bereaved
- Assisting with occasional offices
- Collaborating with clergy and other ministers
- Pastoral visiting and support
These volunteers can be an enormous help to the clergy and to the community in which they live. The training and development course, if conducted as an evening activity once a week, is normally ten weeks long.