A Diocesan Synod motion relating to Deaneries was debated at the
July 2010 sessions of General Synod.
The Diocese of Coventry motion
sought to extend the role of the deanery in order to develop effective
missionary strategies across wider areas than single parishes. Their
Signposts for the Future document calls for consideration of devolving
greater strategic responsibilities to deaneries and reducing their number
in order to "release the missionary energies of the diocese."
This motion arises out of a desire to explore the best ways of doing this.
The Diocesan Synod motion:
'That this Synod
request the Archbishops' Council to convene a working party:
to consider the case for legislation (i) conferring incorporated
status on deanery synods and (ii) amending their functions so that, whilst
they retain their deliberative function, they are also able to take a more
executive role in promoting in the deanery the whole mission of the
to report to the Synod on its findings with, if appropriate,
proposals for the introduction of legislation.'
The Diocese of Coventry is not unique in wanting a
greater role for deaneries. Others have been debating a similar motion to
ours and we are grateful for the conversations that have taken place
between our dioceses.
centres on the legal implications of a deanery employing staff, holding
property and having bank accounts. All of these activities might form part
of a strategy for developing the role of the deanery, but currently the
deanery synod is not able to undertake them, because of the nature of its
purposes and the fact that it does not have incorporated status.
One solution to the problem would be the creation
of a free standing charity alongside the each deanery synod that wanted to
operate in this way. However, even if the office holders of the deanery
were listed as the office holders of the charity, the charity itself would
not be a part of the governance of the Church of England. This is seen as
a significant weakness of this approach.
The full background paper GS1773A
Further papers GS1773B
The Coventry motion was significantly amended by an
amendment from Archbishop's Council.:
'That this Synod
(a) welcome the wide measure of discretion that each diocese has to
determine the extent of any delegation of functions to deaneries;
(b) note the increasing range of legal vehicles available to deaneries
where it is agreed that a more executive role may help in promoting the
mission of the Church; and
(c) invite the Archbishops' Council, in consultation with the House of
Bishops, to produce updated guidance on available options, with examples
of how recent practice has been developing.'
Is this a much wider issue?
More and more the focus for mission and community initiatives
seems to be on the Deanery. In the future it is probable that
the Deanery will be the main unit rather than the Parish for the delivery
of mission and pastoral care. We will not have the resources – both
people and finance to support the parochial system and structure the way
it is now.
If you have views on the role and function of the
Deanery please let us know
so we can inform the ongoing debate.