Archbishop Justin Welby
You may recall that in March 2014 I, alongside the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Dover and the then Deans of Jersey and Guernsey agreed arrangements for the Bishop of Dover to assume interim oversight of the Island parishes. This temporary arrangement was made on the basis that an Archbishop’s Commission would look at the longer-term relationship between the Islands and the wider Church of England following a breakdown in the relationship between the Islands and the Diocese of Winchester.
The Commission began its work last year and visited both Guernsey and Jersey, meeting with a cross-section of civic and church representatives in addition to meeting with a range of other stakeholders including representatives from the Dioceses of Canterbury and Winchester. Its final report has been published today, which includes a recommendation for episcopal oversight of the Islands to be transferred to the Bishop of Salisbury. The recommendations of the report will now go forward to the General Synod and the Island authorities for consideration, and recommendation to the Privy Council. Should the proposals be approved, the earliest that the attachment to Salisbury could take formal effect would be the Autumn of 2020.
Until arrangements are finalised, Bishop Trevor Willmott will continue interim episcopal oversight of the Islands (in his role as an Assistant Bishop in the Diocese of Winchester) and our Canterbury Diocese will continue to offer administrative, ministry and mission support to the Islands to ensure a smooth transition to Salisbury Diocese.
I welcome this report and its recommendations and am grateful to all in the Channel Islands and further afield who have given of their time, energy and prayer during the consultation. The aim of this Commission was to identify an environment in which the church and all who worship in the Islands can flourish together in Christ and within the wider life of the Church of England. I believe the recommendations of the report can allow for this to happen.
My thanks also go to those who have served on the Commission chaired by Lord Chartres, and especially to Bishop Trevor Willmott for his episcopal oversight of the Islands while the Commission was concluding its task.
I am also grateful to all those in Canterbury Diocese who have so warmly welcomed the Islands into our life together, and who have worked to support them in their ministry and mission – thank you so much for your part in this. This work will continue during 2020 and over the time of transition. Our life as a diocese has undoubtedly been enriched by the presence of the clergy and lay people of the Channel Islands among us – and I have no doubt that they will be a huge blessing to Salisbury Diocese.
Please join me in praying for those for the bodies that now need to consider the recommendations, for the Channel Island Deans, their clergy, lay people and communities as they prepare for this transition, and for the leadership and people of Salisbury Diocese as they make arrangements to welcome the Islands.
Thank you for all you do to serve the Gospel and the people of our communities,
The Most Reverend and Right Honourable Justin Welby
Archbishop of Canterbury