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Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Administrator or Pastor: One Bishop's View

Our insurance agents require a summary of travel within the diocese each year to determine if they are providing adequate cover. So I just completed a quick tally: by the end of 2009 I will have spent 133 days in the territory of the diocese itself. What's involved in these days? The majority of the time is spent preaching, teaching, presiding at liturgies, attending meetings and synods, ecumenical commitments and conversations, and engaging in pastoral work with clergy and laity.

When I am in my London office it is normal to spend on average 8 hours a week on the telephone, mostly pastoral conversations with clergy and laity, as well as about 8 - 10 hours each week in face to face meetings, consultations and interviews. I try to schedule one day every week just for reading, study, and writing. Most correspondence I receive is related to pastoral or mission concerns of the congregations or with ministry matters pertaining to clergy, readers, postulants and those in training. Each week I am in London there is at least one ecumenical or other wider-church engagement that requires my attendance. For instance this past week was the visit of the Metropolitan of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia, along with his bishop for Germany and several clergy, as well as a lunch and meeting with the Lord Mayor of Westminster at which we discussed how local governments might be more active in supporting church buildings! Of course, prayer (apart from public services) takes about 4-5 hours a week, which is likely not enough.

Deacon Frances Hiller my chaplain, an indefatigable multi-tasker, answers a huge amount of correspondence and manages many telephone enquiries on my behalf, and is herself engaged in many pastoral conversations. In between this she squeezes in time to track my expenses for the Church Commissioners, and make arrangements for parish visits as well as general diary management.

As for "administration" I likely spend less than one hour each week signing cheques, Permissions to Officiate, faculties or on other official but essential items of paperwork. So, whence the myth that bishops are caught up in administration, that is what I would like to know?


  1. Re. the cartoon - our delightful Tamil cleaner recently decided the dust my shelves, took all the books down (carefully arranged in something approaching Dewey decimal order) dusted - and then put them back - in order of height!