The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Commission on the relationship of the Channel Islands to the wider Church of England has published its final report, including a recommendation for Episcopal oversight of the Islands to be transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury.
In March 2014, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Dover and the Deans of Jersey and Guernsey signed an agreement to give effect to arrangements by which the Rt Rev’d Trevor Willmott, then Bishop of Dover, would assume interim oversight of the Island parishes. Following this, an Archbishop’s Commission would look at the longer-term relationship between the Islands and the wider Church of England. This followed a breakdown in the relationship between the Islands and the Bishop of Winchester.
The Archbishop’s Commission started its work last year and visited both Guernsey and Jersey, meeting with a cross-section of civic and church representatives in addition to meeting with a range of other stakeholders including representatives from the Dioceses of Canterbury and Winchester.
With this process now concluded, the Commission has today made recommendations which will allow the continued flourishing of parishes in the Channel Islands, within the wider life of the Church of England.
The recommendations of the report will now go forward to the General Synod and the Island authorities for consideration, and recommendation to the Privy Council. Should the proposals be approved, the earliest that the attachment to Salisbury could take formal effect would be the autumn of 2020.
Until arrangements are finalised, Bishop Trevor Willmott will continue interim episcopal oversight of the Islands.
The full report and recommendations may be downloaded below.
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: “I welcome this report and its recommendations and am grateful to all in the Channel Islands and further afield who have given of their time, energy and prayer during the consultation.
“The aim of this Commission was to identify an environment in which the Church and all who worship in the Islands can flourish together in Christ and within the wider life of the Church of England. I believe the recommendations of the report can allow for this to happen.
“My thanks also go to those who have served on the Commission chaired by Lord Chartres, and especially to Bishop Trevor Willmott for his episcopal oversight of the Islands while the Commission was concluding its task.”
The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, said: “I warmly welcome the Commission’s recommendations, particularly that Episcopal oversight of the Islands be transferred to Salisbury. Together we will explore the opportunities this new relationship brings. I look forward to getting to know the people of the Channel Islands and when we agree the next steps will welcome them into our Diocese. We will want a partnership in the Gospel that is good for all of us. A new chapter is opening in our shared life in Christ.”
The Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, said: “I’m most grateful to the members of the Archbishop’s Commission for their work and their recommendations. In particular, I welcome the proposal for the Island Deaneries to be given a fresh start with the Diocese of Salisbury. I remain committed to the flourishing of the churches in the Islands, and shall continue to pray for God’s richest blessing and his grace to be known in the Islands and among their churches.”
The Dean of Guernsey, Tim Barker, said: “We look forward to exploring with the Bishop of Salisbury and his colleagues the development of our mission and ministry in Guernsey, once the Channel Islands deanery synods have accepted the Commission’s recommendations and the legal processes are under way. I am grateful to the Commissioners for their report and to Bishop Trevor Willmott and the Diocese of Canterbury for their much-valued support in recent years.”
The Dean of Jersey, Mike Keirle, said: “We are grateful for the work of the Archbishop’s Commission and we welcome their recommendations in this report. We thank the Diocese of Winchester for their care over the years and, subject to approval from the respective Synods in the Islands and Salisbury, we look forward to building new relationships with the wider Church of England and to the future flourishing of the Church in Jersey”.