Channel Islands to come under Diocese of Salisbury after break down in relations with Winchester

Wed 09 Oct 2019
By Cara Bentley

Churches in the Channel Islands, which were connected with the diocese of Winchester since 1569, will now be overseen by Salisbury.

In 2014 the Church of England deaneries in Guernsey and Jersey came under the oversight of the Bishop of Dover, Rt Rev'd Trevor Willmott, after, in 2013, the then Dean of Jersey, Dean Bob Key was suspended by the Bishop of Winchester, Rt Rev Tim Dakin over the handling of a safeguarding concern by a parishioner.

Many questioned whether the bishop was right, or legal, to suspend the Dean. Very Rev Bob Key was reinstated and apologised for any mistakes but it opened a debate about the islands' relations with the diocese.

Archbishop Justin Welby then apologised in 2016 to the Dean for the probe. 

It was decided when the oversight shifted temporarily that an Archbishop's Commission would look at the longer-term relationship between the Islands and the wider Church of England.

The Archbishop's Commission visited Guernsey and Jersey, meeting with civic and church representatives and representatives from the Dioceses of Canterbury and Winchester.

The Commission announced on Wednesday that the islands should leave the see of Winchester and join Salisbury.

These recommendations will now go to the General Synod and the Island authorities for consideration, and recommendation to the Privy Council.

If approved, the earliest it could take effect is autumn 2020.

Until arrangements are finalised, Bishop Trevor Willmott will continue interim episcopal oversight of the Islands.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said: "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 (former Bishop of London), and especially to Bishop Trevor Willmott for his episcopal oversight of the Islands while the Commission was concluding its task."

The Bishop of Winchester, Tim Dakin, said: "I'm most grateful to the members of the Archbishop's Commission for their work and their recommendations. In particular, 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, and shall continue to pray for God's richest blessing and his grace to be known in the Islands and among their churches."

The current Dean of Jersey, Mike Keirle, said: "We are grateful for the work of the Archbishop's Commission and we welcome their recommendations in this report. We thank the Diocese of Winchester for their care over the years and, subject to approval from the respective Synods in the Islands and Salisbury, we look forward to building new relationships with the wider Church of England and to the future flourishing of the Church in Jersey".


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