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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Welcoming priests appointed to serve in this diocese from across the Anglican Communion and Churches in Communion

We are blessed in this diocese for many of the clergy who serve our churches come from other parts of the Anglican Communion or from Churches in Communion with the Church of England. They bring a great richness and breadth of experience to us. There are, however, so many peculiarities in this particular Province of the Anglican Communion - rules, measures, canons and guidelines, that are often bewildering to those whose ministry has previously been outside the Church of England. And just to complicate things, there are particular norms and procedures which pertain to the unique context of this diocese. Even common terminology like "Churchwarden" denotes very different functions in different parts of the Anglican Communion.

By coincidence, five priests recently appointed to positions in this Diocese in Europe come from outside the Church of England. I therefore proposed a meeting for some orientation together, to provide a chance to cover some basic matters that will be useful to know in their new appointment and to have some conversation about the norms and procedures of this particular Church.

We gathered from Sunday 26 to Monday 27 in St George's Málaga. The priests have come to this diocese (or will shortly be starting their ministry here) from the Church of Ireland, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Episcopal Church USA, the Anglican Church of Canada and the Latvian Evangelical Lutheran Church Abroad. They were joined by another priest who has been serving here for close to two years now, originally from the Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East, but who is just taking up the responsibilities of Area Dean of Morocco and the Canary Islands, Canon Medhat Sabry. Besides myself, the resource persons for the seminar were the Diocesan Secretary, Canon Adrian Mumford and the Archdeacon of Gibraltar Geoff Johnston.

What did we cover? 
  • A range of topics pertaining to governance in the Church of England, synodical government, Church Representation Rules
  • Electoral rolls, Annual General Meetings,
  • Functions of Churchwardens, Church Council, Archdeaconry Representatives, treasurers and secretaries
  • Annual returns to the Diocese, Annual Stipend Review, Statistics for Mission, Standard Accounts and Common Fund
  • Safeguarding requirements
  • Vocations, ministry of Readers, ministry of clergy with Permission to Officiate, Congregational Worship Leaders, Communion Assistants
  • Provisions for Communion by Extension, admission of children to Holy Communion before Confirmation, 
  • Liturgical matters, authorised liturgies, Book of Common Prayer, Common Worship, non-English language liturgies
  • matters related to marriages, blessings of civil marriages, remarriage of divorced
  • Ministerial Development Review, Continuing Education
  • Use of our Church buildings by other groups
  • Who's who on the diocesan staff and where to seek answers to questions or support for particular matters
It was an intense 24 hours, but an enjoyable one, as we got to know each other better and shared some of the joys and challenges of ministry, and discussed some possible issues that may be faced in the local parishes to which they have been appointed.

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