From the Worldwide Faith News archives

Radical Reforms Proposed for Church of England

Date 06 May 1996 06:12:30

Canon James M. Rosenthal, Director of Communications
Anglican Communion News Service
157 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UT, England
Tel. 44 0171 620-1110
Fax 44 0171 620-1071

#718 ACC

20 September 1995


(Anglican Communion News Service - Nicola Currie) 'The Church of
England needs to get its act together' said the Bishop of Durham at
a press conference today at Lambeth Palace in London. The report,
commissioned by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, reviews  the
organisation of the Church of England with its radical
recommendations being made public today.  It has called for a
complete restructuring of the Church at a national level and
proposed the setting up of a new executive Council with wide-
reaching powers. The roles of the Archbishops would be strengthened
in this new set-up. Staff members of the existing national church
organisations, over 500 in number, were given a preview of the
report yesterday. 

The Archbishops' Commission on the Organisation of the Church of
England, known as the Turnbull Commission (it is chaired by the
Bishop of Durham, the Rt Revd Michael Turnbull) published its report
`Working as One Body', today, 20 September.  The key proposal is
that the Archbishops should lead a completely new National Council. 
This would take an overview of the needs and resources of the whole
Church, and ensure that the necessary decisions are taken and that
things get done `and not just talked about'. The other members of
the Council would include two elected bishops, the clergy and lay
leaders of General Synod, the Council's chief executive and a small
number of others appointed for their particular skills - up to 17
people in all.

The report recommends that the new Council will take over and
reshape the General Synod's Boards, Councils and all their sub-
committees, together with most of the functions of the Church
Commissioners. `We want to see fewer committees and less paperwork,
a single central staff working for the Church as a whole, and much
closer consultation between the national bodies and the dioceses,
especially on financial matters' said the Commission's press

The 152 page report recommends many proposals for a new way of
working for the decision-making bodies of the Church of England.

The Council and the Church Commissioners

In 1992 the Church Commissioners' management of funds were the
subject of widespread public criticisms. Following an internal
report which recommended that the Church review its own management
structures the Archbishops  set up the `Turnbull Commission'  to
examine the existing organisation of the Church and to make
recommendations for improvement. The Commission recommends that most
of the functions of the Church Commissioners should be transferred
to the Council. The Commission agreed that the Church Commissioners
should continue to act as trustees of the historic assets of the
Church although decisions about the detailed allocation of their
income should be transferred to the Council.  They also recommended
that the number of Commissioners be reduced from 95 to 15.  When
asked for a response to the Commission's  report a spokesman for the
Church Commissioners said:`In the near future the Church
Commissioners hope to formulate a response to the Commission's
recommendations.'  The Commissioners were meeting as staff today to
discuss the report.

The Council and Pensions Board 

Pensions policy and the day to day work of the Pensions Board should
pass to the Council.  A reconstituted Pensions Board should act as
trustees of the clergy and other pension funds.

The Council and the House of Bishops

The new Council will assist the House of Bishops in developing a
vision for the broad direction of the Church. The report states that
the new Council will be the executive through which that vision is

The Council and the General Synod

The General Synod will continue as the Church's elected law-making
and debating body and the Council would be accountable to the Synod
in specified ways but the Synod itself `should not try to be an
executive body.'

The Commission believes that the Council will provide the Church of
England with the focus it needs for executive responsibility.  The
Commission said that they had found a lack of confidence in the
central performance of the Church, especially in recent years, the

Commissioners.  `National responsibilities are split between too
many bodies....The central structures are confusing and it is
impossible for any one body to take a strategic view of policy and

The Archbishop of Canterbury has welcomed the report and in a
Foreword written jointly with the outgoing Archbishop of York, Lord
Habgood, he gives support for `broad thrust' of the report. 
Archbishop Carey also called for thorough and wide debate about  the
report while emphasising that the Church should then move forward
and avoid prolonged uncertainty.

The outgoing Bishop of London, and Archbishop of York elect, the Rt
Revd David Hope, said `Working As One Body is a timely, well written
and theologically informed document which puts forward carefully
considered proposals about the structure needed by the Church of
England to fulful its mission into the next century.  It raises
pertinent questions about our priorities and resources.

`As we approach the new millennium our task is to foster a church
renewed in faith and hope - equipped and resourced for ministry and

`I hope that, after reflection, all involved in the church's life
and work will join in acting upon the challenges presented by this

Bishop Turnbull said he hoped the new structures would be in place
within two years.  He said there would not be major staff cuts at
Church House. 

--by Nicola Currie. Jim Rosenthal contributed to this report. For
further inforamtion contact Jim Rosenthal

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