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Anglicans Online last updated 19 May 2019
Archbishops: Anglican Communion angles
By Simon Sarmiento, UK/Europe Editor, AO
A Church of England review group this week published its second report. The first report, entitled Resourcing Bishops, was reviewed here last year, with special reference to its recommendations on Information Technology. This new report, entitled Resourcing Archbishops, is concerned solely with the two English archbishoprics and says little about IT (though it does comment adversely on the non-use of IT by the staff at Bishopthorpe). Like the first document, this is an excellent report which explains in detail a lot of things about how the archbishops work, further reveals the the bizarre working style of the Church Commissioners, and makes sensible recommendations for modern financial management that are long overdue.
As before, the keynote recommendations are published in the Church Times.
The report is mostly concerned with the two big-ticket items: real estate at Lambeth, Canterbury and Bishopthorpe, and staffing structures in those places which support the archbishops in their Church of England roles. But a significant chapter (31 pages, well over 10% of the main text) is devoted to the work of the Archbishop of Canterbury in relation to the Anglican Communion. The report reveals that he estimates some 30% of his working time is spent on this. This article concentrates on those aspects of the report and the way in which they relate to the Hurd report, To Lead and to Serve, the full text of which is available here and about which I wrote previously.
Despite my earlier remarks, Professor Mellows has regrettably chosen to use the term 'President of the Anglican Communion' repeatedly in his report. However, he does mitigate this unfortunate usage somewhat by providing an explicit definition of the term:
'Formally, there is no office of President of the Anglican Communion and we use this expression to mean all of the offices which the Archbishop holds in the Anglican Communion.'
At the very least, it would have been better to use a lower case p.
In general, the report recommends that the same principles of financial management enunciated in the previous report for diocesan bishops should apply also to the archbishops. No recommendation is made as to whether the current levels of expenditure in respect of the Anglican Communion are the 'right' levels. The main points from the report that specifically affect funding of work related to the Anglican Communion are listed below. Square brackets denote my comments.
Mellows calculates that the marginal costs (salaries, office expenses, travel) incurred in respect of Anglican Communion work in 2001 were £187,000, out of a total operational cost for Lambeth Palace, excluding the Library, of about £2 million. This excludes any pro-rating of the archbishop's stipend, or any allocation of the general overheads of the palace. An estimate by your reporter is that the true economic cost incurred by the Church Commissioners is of a similar order to the entirely separate contribution made by the Church of England (via the Archbishops' Council, i.e. from diocesan contributions to the centre) to the inter-anglican budget of the Anglican Consultative Council which in 2001 was nearly £345,000 (out of a global total of about £1.1 million).
In relation to the Hurd report recommendations, this report dissents from them in two specific ways, but otherwise generally supports them.
Hurd recommended a support team should be set up to assist a newly-appointed Archbishop of Canterbury, and Mellows makes further detailed recommendations on how this should be done. Interestingly, he does not appear to envisage a role for the Secretary-General of the Anglican Consultative Council in this process.
Mellows repeats without comment the Hurd recommendation that there should normally be no more than two formal overseas tours per year.
Mellows recommends explicitly that the post of Bishop at Lambeth in its present form should be abolished. See below for the reason.
Mellows strongly endorses the Hurd recommendation for a new appointment at Lambeth of a Chief of Staff, and specifically recommends that this should be a lay appointment. 'Save in the most exceptional circumstances, the Archbishop of Canterbury's Chief of Staff should be lay.'
He also goes into considerable detail about the duties of this role and the high level of seniority required.
Hurd also recommended the appointment of a bishop from elsewhere in the Anglican Communion to act as the archbishop's right hand in Anglican Communion affairs. Mellows recommends caution. It is worth quoting in full the relevant paragraph:
Mellows does not believe that the other primates of the communion would support the Hurd recommendation that the Archbishop of York should represent the Church of England at the meetings of Anglican Primates, leaving the Archbishop of Canterbury to preside over the meeting.
In relation to the archbishop's Lambeth Palace staff and the Anglican Communion Office, Mellows says that the archbishop has 'a semi-detached relationship with the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative Council' which 'structurally ... looks like a recipe for dysfunctionality'. He is concerned that it works at present only because of the particular personalities of the two incumbents. However, he does not propose structural changes to remedy this, nor does he recommend that on resources grounds the ACO should be relocated to Lambeth Palace, if space should become available (which it might if certain other recommendations, in particular about the library, are implemented). He is satisfied that the existing staffs are not duplicating work, and recommends that:
Mellows expresses some concerns about the existing press arrangements for both archbishops. In the case of Lambeth, the concern is primarily about the need for co-ordination between Lambeth and the ACO.
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