an enabling framework for a missionary church
It balances lightness of touch and flexibility with the need to embed
decisions within truly accountable relationships.
It is episcopally guided but also responsive to what is developed under
God in both network and neighbourhood settings.
It finds ways to match mission tasks and mission resources without
being limited by parish boundaries.
It seeks mutual prayerful affirmation that reflects holiness.
However, the above approach lacks one component that would enable it
to deliver in difficult circumstances. What happens if a bishop is genuinely
minded to authorize a fresh expression of church, but the incumbent or
PCC declines to accept this opportunity, and protects itself with its legal
the cure of souls that is mine and yours
In many walks of life those in authority have more power to say `no' than
to say `yes'. It is easier to stop what isn't wanted than to establish what
is wanted. So bishops may prevent disasters more easily than they can
When a bishop or diocese wants to establish an initiative that crosses
parish boundaries, but is faced with the reluctance or opposition of the
local incumbent, there would currently seem to be little that can be done.
The freehold safeguards an incumbent's future, and Canon Law appears
to sanction his or her sole rights to the parish. The bishop appears to be
able to do little or nothing, even if he wished to. Solutions may be found
(including forming a trust that registers as a charity, and then recognizing
that as an Extra Parochial Place) but it is the view of the working group that
creative approaches such as these are not the best way forward.
As the pace of network church picks up, so there is a growing need for
a coherent and efficient method of enabling cross boundary churches to
develop. The urgency of the times and our nature as an episcopal Church
means new ways must be found through amending the law to enable
responsible partnership between planters and bishops, even if this means
that the bishop has to exercise legal power over reluctant parish clergy.
finding the fresh lever for change
There is a case to remove one element of parochial power. Our suggestion
is to request church legislation to change the canonical right to exclude the