Channel Islands to move Church of England diocese

Dean of Jersey the Very Reverend Mike Kierle, the Bishop of Salisbury the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam and Dean of Guernsey the Very Reverend Tim Barker Image copyright Ash Mills
Image caption The Bishop of Salisbury, the Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam (centre) has agreed to discussions about the practicalities

The Church of England in the Channel Islands is set to become part of the Diocese of Salisbury.

The islands' 500-year-old relationship with the Winchester diocese was changed in 2014 due to safeguarding concerns.

It followed a dispute between the then Dean of Jersey and the Right Reverend Tim Dakin, the Bishop of Winchester.

Winchester retained oversight and legal responsibility for administrative affairs with the Canterbury diocese taking over other areas.

A report into the relationship between the Channel Islands and the wider church has made seven recommendations, including updating laws about female bishops and safeguarding and appointing local lawyers to supply independent legal advice.

The ease of travel - with air links to Southampton and a ferry to Poole - and that the Salisbury and Winchester dioceses share legal services, allowing knowledge and experience to be retained, were among the reasons given for the move of diocese.

Report's recommendation

  • The roles of bishop and dean, and between diocese and deanery to be clarified by a Memorandum of Understanding
  • The 2012 Jersey Canons should be revised to establish a set of amendments that would address such areas as clergy discipline, the role of the dean, safeguarding and women bishops
  • Appropriately qualified Jersey and Guernsey advocates should be appointed as Deputy Diocesan Registrars to provide independent legal advice to the Bishop and Dean
  • Canonical provisions for the Deanery of Guernsey should be reviewed with updates drafted or modified Church of England Canons applied
  • The Bishop and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure 2014 and the Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure 2016 should be extended to the islands as soon as practicable
  • Simpler process for adopting Church of England measures on the islands should be introduced
  • The Deaneries of Guernsey and Jersey should in future be attached to the Diocese of Salisbury.
Image copyright Ash Mills
Image caption The Dean of Jersey, the Very Reverend Mike Kierle (left), and Dean of Guernsey, the Very Reverend Tim Barker (right), have met with the Bishop of Salisbury

The report pointed out there were historical connections between the islands and diocese as early as 1496 when "the then Pope sought to establish a connection, and that the first bishop to visit the islands was Bishop John Fisher of Salisbury in 1818".

The move could come into effect in late 2020 but first approval would be needed from the General Synod, as well as consent from Parliament and the approval of both islands' States to send the measures to the Privy Council to approve the needed changes in legislation.

Bishop Dakin said: "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."

Dean of Jersey, the Very Reverend Mike Keirle, said: "We thank the Diocese of Winchester for their care over the years and... we look forward to building new relationships with the wider Church of England and to the future flourishing of the Church in Jersey".

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."

Timeline of diocese split

March 2013 - Commission withdrawn for the Very Reverend Bob Key, the Dean of Jersey, by the Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Tim Dakin over concerns about his handling of a parishioner's complaint about abuse in 2008.

April 2013 - Dean Key is reinstated after apologising for anything he might have got wrong in the handling of the complaint.

August 2013 - Concerns are raised by Anglican church members in the Channel Islands about their relationship with the Church of England.

November 2013 - Inquiry into the handling of the complaint recommends no disciplinary action should be taken against any Jersey Anglican clergy member and finds no evidence of wrongdoing by Dean Key. The final report is kept confidential on legal advice.

January 2014 - The breakdown of relations between Dean Key and Bishop Dakin leads to the Archbishop of Canterbury temporarily moving oversight of the islands to the Bishop of Dover, the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, who is based in the Diocese of Canterbury.

March 2014 - Concerns are raised by churchgoers that money continues to be paid to the Winchester diocese.

July 2014 - The Church of England reveals it has spent £190,000 on handling the split, while a lay member suggests it has cost more than £600,000.

January 2015 - Details of interim arrangement released with Winchester retaining oversight of legal matters with appointments overseen by the Bishop of Dover as well as finance, ministry and training and safeguarding.

May 2019 - Mr Willmott retires but keeps oversight of the Channel Islands as an Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Winchester.

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