Suspension of presentation means the temporary removal of a patron’s right to present an incumbent for appointment to a parish. The Bishop remains responsible for the cure of souls which he will normally exercise by the appointment of a priest-in-charge. Under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 suspension of presentation is allowed when:
- Pastoral reorganisation is in progress or under consideration
- It is intended that the parsonage house be replaced
- It is intended to staff the parish with a priest who also has a chaplaincy, diocesan or ‘double-hatted’ post.
How long will the parish be suspended?
The Measure allows the Bishop to suspend a parish for one year without formal consultation, although in practice the parish will almost certainly be aware of this in advance. After this initial year, should the Bishop wish to continue the period of suspension, he has no option but to continue it in blocks of five years. However, with the agreement of the Mission and Pastoral Committee, the suspension can be lifted at any point during that time and might therefore be seen as being for a maximum of five years. The Bishop is bound to consult on every five year suspension.
Who is consulted on the suspension?
Under the Measure the Bishop must obtain the consent of the Mission and Pastoral Committee (in the Diocese of Chichester there are two Mission and Pastoral Subcommittees which perform this role, one for the east of the diocese and one for the west) and must consult with the patron(s), the archdeacon, the rural dean, the deanery lay chair and the relevant PCC(s). This consultation will be in the form of correspondence from the Secretary to the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee. In all of this process the relevant archdeacon is a key figure in assisting parishes, pastoral committees and the Bishop in reaching decisions. Parishes and clergy affected by suspensions have the right to meet the Bishop and representatives of the Mission and Pastoral Sub-Committee to discuss the proposals and to air their views.
What will it mean to us as a parish?
It is a general policy that when appointing a priest-in-charge the Bishop will consult with both the patron and parish representatives. By and large, a parish will notice no difference between a priest-in-charge on Common Tenure but designated as a post which may be subject to potential pastoral reorganisation and an incumbent on Common Tenure without a specific end date. Suspension of presentation is an important part of the aim to achieve proper and effective pastoral care of our parishes in an equitable way. It provides time in which parishes can prepare and be prepared for possible pastoral reorganisation.