We have a ‘Simplification’ Group?
The earth was trembling with anticipation a couple of days ago when the Church of England announced that the Church Representation Rules are to go online, free of charge, for the first time. Church Rep Rules, for the uninitiated, is a vital but dull publication that tells PCCs and Synods how they are to function.
As a side point, because it’s vital, it was also a good regular seller for Church House Publishing. Decisions like this one (giving good sellers away for free) were amongst the reasons why CHP always found it hard to make money – and why the decision to outsource their function was so poor. Anyone seen anything like Mission-shaped Church recently?
Anyway, I digress. What grabbed me in this momentous news was this paragraph:
Mary Chapman, chair of the Simplification Group, said: “The online publication of the Church Representation Rules is welcome early fruit from work in response to requests for easier access to important information.
Which immediately begs the question from me… we have a ‘Simplification’ Group? When did that happen?
Believe me, I welcome such a group. It has been extremely marked for me, moving from a curacy in a church that had a paid Administrator to parishes where I follow a Vicar who was here for thirty years and mostly ignored the bureacratization of the clergy. There is an incredible amount of paperwork that I’m currently having to deal with and without much in the way of administrative support.
Baptism forms, registers, setting dates and writing letters. With weddings, we have Banns forms, Common Licence paperwork, paperwork for dealing with divorcees, the registers, the County registrars forms, the fees. With funerals, you have the paperwork to confirm the body in the ground is the one you thought it was, paperwork for memorial headstones, regulations for what families can and can’t do, maps of churchyards to work out who is in which unmarked plot, details of the next of kin.
And that’s just the occasional offices – pastoral work. Throw in some faculties to handle a tree that needs to be pruned or the purchase of a candle stand in memory of a loved one, CRB confirmations for a new leader of Sunday School, PCC agendas and paperwork, and I can easily spend most of my week being a Chief Executive Officer rather than a Priest.
Maybe CEO is too much of a stretch. Office Manager may be a better title.
I’m only responsible for two parishes. I can’t imagine how much the paperwork increases exponentially if you’re in a rural multi-parish benefice of six, seven, eight churches. I shudder to think.
I’ve not heard of this Simplification Group before. The Press Release suggests it was set up in September last year. Anyone know their remit? Or how we provide a contribution to their thinking? I could think of a good few things they could simplify so that I do what I promised I would do when I was licensed – pray, preach, study, worship, visit, care and all that priestly kind of stuff.