PATRONS AND PASTORAL REORGANISATION
The Patron of a benefice has the right to present a priest for admission to a vacant benefice and will thus be involved in the appointment process.
If it is proposed to create a mega parish or mega benefice then it is likely that the rights of individual patrons will be diluted (because they will have to work with so many other patrons) or even abolished and replaced by a new patron (usually the Diocesan Patronage Board).
Furthermore, in a mega benefice the patrons will only be involved in the appointment of the one incumbent of the whole benefice and will normally have no say in the appointment of team vicars or other assistant priests.
Rights of patronage (the advowson) are property rights of the patron which should not lightly be surrendered or confiscated.
It is a good idea to consider involving your patron(s) at the earliest opportunity to help oppose or modify proposals
Who is/are your patron(s)?
If you do not know who your patron is this can be found by consulting the patronage register which is maintained by the Diocesan Registrar. It lists the patrons and contact addresses for all patrons of each benefice. This is a public document open to inspection so there are no GDPR issues of confidentiality. Contact your Registry for information – they will often just send you the information you request without you having to physically inspect the register.
Your patron may be (or may include)
The Diocesan Patronage Board
An individual (eg local landowner)
A patronage society (eg Society for the Maintenance of the Faith, Church Pastoral Aid Society)
The incumbent of another benefice
A university college, London Guild, Cathedral chapter etc.
Is it worth approaching your patron(s)?
It will depend who the patron is as to whether it is worth approaching them. Obviously a bishop who is proposing the changes is not going to be much use!
Local trustees or an individual with local knowledge may be keen to stress the need for local
Patronage societies may be concerned about changes in churchmanship in a mega benefice
All patrons should be concerned that the evidence shows that mega benefices/parishes cause decline.
Make sure your patron(s) know their rights
The patron is an ‘interested party’ under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 section 6 and has a right to be consulted when proposals for pastoral reorganisation are being considered:
- Before deciding to make any recommendations to the bishop, the mission and pastoral committee shall so far as may be practicable ascertain the views of the interested parties or invite them to express their views
(a) on the recommendations the committee proposes to make, or
(b) if the committee has yet to formulate recommendations, on the issues which the committee considers need to be addressed. (section 6 (1)).
- When a draft scheme for re-organsiation has been prepared the interested parties must have a copy served on them and be given an opportunity to make written representations on the proposals within a period of not less than 28 days. (section 9)
- The Church Commissioners shall consider the representations and may, if they think fit, allow an opportunity to any person to make oral representations. (section 9(4).
- Any person who has made written representations may appeal to the Privy Council against the scheme or any provisions of it, but only with the leave of the Privy Council (section 12).