Incumbents (Vacation of Benefices) Measure 1977

JurisdictionUK Non-devolved
Citationmeasure 1977 No. 1


Incumbents (Vacation ofBenefices) Measure 1977

A MEASURE passed by the General Synod of the Church of England to make provision, including provision for the vacation of the benefice, where there has been a serious breakdown of the pastoral relationship between an incumbent and his parishioners or where an incumbent is unable by reason of age or infirmity to discharge adequately the duties attaching to his benefice, and for purposes connected therewith.

[30th June 1977]

I Institution of Enquiry into Pastoral Situation in a Parish

Part I

Institution of Enquiry into Pastoral Situationin a Parish

S-1 Request for enquiry into pastoral situation in a parish.

1 Request for enquiry into pastoral situation in a parish.

(1) A request for an enquiry under this Part of this Measure into the pastoral situation in a parish on the ground that there has been a serious breakdown of the pastoral relationship between the incumbent and his parishioners to which the conduct of the incumbent or of his parishioners or of both has contributed over a substantial period may be made by—

( a ) the incumbent of the benefice to which the parish belongs; or

( b ) the archdeacon in whose archdeaconry the parish is; or

( c ) a majority of not less than two-thirds of the lay members of the parochial church council of the parish present and voting at a duly convened meeting of that council on a resolution that the request be made; or

( d ) where the incumbent mentioned in paragraph ( a ) above is the archdeacon mentioned in paragraph ( b ) above, a majority of the members of the bishop's council and standing committee of the diocesan synod of the diocese in which the parish is.

(2) A request for such an enquiry shall be made in writing to the bishop of the diocese in which the parish in question is and the secretary of the diocesan synod of that diocese and shall contain particulars of the facts which appear to the person or persons making the request to justify an enquiry.

(3) A request for such an enquiry made by the persons mentioned in subsection (1)( c ) or ( d ) above must—

( a ) be signed by all of those persons and include the address of each of them; and

( b ) specify two persons from among those signing the request who are willing to act as representatives of those persons in connection with the enquiry and indicate which of those two is willing to conduct and receive correspondence relating to the enquiry (in this Measure referred to as ‘the designated representative’).

(4) A request for such an enquiry made by the persons mentioned in subsection (1)( c ) above must also contain a statement that the persons who have signed the request constitute a majority of two-thirds or more of those lay members of the parochial church council of the parish in question who were present at a duly convened meeting of that council and voted thereat on a resolution that the request be made.

(5) A request for such an enquiry made by the persons mentioned in subsection (1)( d ) above must also contain a statement that the persons who have signed the request constitute a majority of the members of the bishop's council and standing committee of the diocesan synod of the diocese in which the parish in question is.

(6) Where a request made under this section is received by the secretary of the diocesan synod, he shall notify—

( a ) the incumbent of the benefice to which the parish in question belongs, unless it was he who made the request;

( b ) the archdeacon in whose archdeaconry that parish is, unless it was he who made the request; and

( c ) the secretary of the parochial church council of that parish, unless it was the persons mentioned in subsection (1)( c ) above who made the request.

S-2 Action to be taken by archdeacon in certain cases before institution of enquiry.

2 Action to be taken by archdeacon in certain cases before institution of enquiry.

(1) Where the bishop of a diocese receives a request under section 1 of this Measure, then, unless—

( a ) the request was made by the archdeacon in whose archdeaconry the parish in question is, or

( b ) that archdeacon is the incumbent of the benefice to which the parish in question belongs,

the bishop shall direct the first mentioned archdeacon to take such steps as are mentioned in subsection (4) below and to report in accordance with subsection (5) below.

(2) Where the archdeaconry in which the parish in question is situated is vacant, the bishop shall appoint some other archdeacon holding office in the diocese to act in the case and shall inform the secretary of the diocesan synod accordingly.

(3) Where the archdeacon in whose archdeaconry the parish in question is situated is of opinion that it would not be right or expedient for him to act in the case, he shall so inform the bishop and the bishop shall appoint some other archdeacon holding office in the diocese to act in his place and shall inform the secretary of the diocesan synod accordingly.

(4) On receiving the directions of the bishop the archdeacon shall take such steps as he considers appropriate to promote better relations between the incumbent and his parishioners and to remove the causes of their estrangement.

(5) Not more than six weeks after receiving such directions the archdeacon shall report to the bishop whether in his opinion an enquiry into the pastoral situation in the parish to which the request relates would be in the best interest of the incumbent and his parishioners and should accordingly be instituted.

(6) On receiving the archdeacon's report the bishop shall inform the secretary of the diocesan synod of the archdeacon's opinion as stated in his report and direct him to inform the incumbent, the secretary of the parochial church council and the designated representative, if any, of it.

S-3 Institution of enquiry.

3 Institution of enquiry.

(1) Where—

( a ) the request for an enquiry under this Part of this Measure was made by the archdeacon in whose archdeaconry the parish in question is or that archdeacon is the incumbent of the benefice to which the parish in question belongs; or

( b ) the archdeacon appointed to act under section 2 of this Measure reports that in his opinion such an enquiry should be instituted; or

( c ) within six months after the making of his report the archdeacon informs the bishop that notwithstanding that he did not report as aforesaid he considers that the circumstances are such that such an enquiry is nevertheless required; or

( d ) within six months after the making of the archdeacon's report the incumbent, the secretary of the parochial church council or the designated representative, if any, informs the bishop that notwithstanding that the archdeacon did not report as aforesaid such an enquiry is nevertheless required,

then, subject to subsections (2) and (3) below and section 4 of this Measure, the bishop shall direct the secretary of the diocesan synod to institute such enquiry.

(2) Where it is the secretary of the parochial church council or the designated representative who informs the bishop as mentioned in subsection (1)( d ) above, the bishop may, if he thinks fit and without prejudice to subsection (3) below, give a direction under subsection (1) above but shall not be obliged to do so.

(3) Where the person holding the office of incumbent of the benefice to which the parish in question belongs has held that office for less than three years at the date on which, but for this subsection, the bishop would be required or have power to give a direction under subsection (1) above, the bishop may, if he thinks fit, give such a direction but shall not be obliged to do so.

S-4 Provisions with respect to resignation of benefice by incumbent.

4 Provisions with respect to resignation of benefice by incumbent.

(1) Where a request for an enquiry under this Part of this Measure is made in accordance with section 1 thereof, the incumbent concerned may when, or at any time before, he receives a notification from the bishop of the diocese under section 12(1) of this Measure request the bishop to accept his resignation of his benefice, and the bishop may, if he thinks it would be in the interest of the Church to do so, accept the resignation.

(2) An incumbent who has been informed that the bishop has accepted his resignation of his benefice under subsection (1) above shall execute a deed resigning his benefice as from such date as may be specified in the deed, being a date not later than three months after the date on which he was informed as aforesaid, and shall vacate the parsonage house or other his official residence not later than three months after the date on which the benefice became vacant by virtue of that deed.

(3) Where the bishop accepts the resignation of an incumbent under this section, he shall notify the secretary of the diocesan synod that no further steps are to be taken in connection with the enquiry and direct him to inform the secretary of the parochial church council of the parish in question, the designated representative, if any, and, if necessary, the archdeacon in whose archdeaconry that parish is and the members of the body by which the enquiry was to have been, or is being, conducted of that fact.

S-5 Enquiry to be conducted by diocesan committee or, at option of incumbent, provincial tribunal.

5 Enquiry to be conducted by diocesan committee or, at option of incumbent, provincial tribunal.

(1) Subject to subsection (2) below, an enquiry into the pastoral situation in a parish shall be conducted...

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