Diocese of Chichester

Guidelines for the Ministry of Retired Clergy. Please note that some of the information given in this guideline has been drawn from the Church of England website

1. Definition

Ordination is for life but receiving a stipend or a licence will come to an end at some point. ‘Retired clergy’ in these guidelines refers to clergy who no longer hold a licence, some of whom will have been stipendiary clergy and others Self Supporting Ministers (SSM). It does not mean that they might not be active in ministry. The majority (but not all) retired clergy have ‘Permission to Officiate’ (PTO) from the Diocesan Bishop.

2. Starting Retirement

Retirement can involve an enormous change in the lives of clergy. They will often be moving to a smaller house and will now be responsible for its maintenance and upkeep. They may be leaving friends or social structures or moving away from relatives. On retirement, many experience a sense of loss, similar to bereavement. This loss is felt by most people retiring from work, but, for clergy, there is an added dimension because they remain ordained and usually feel a calling to continue to minister as a priest in some way.

The Diocese of Chichester pays for membership of the Retired Clergy Association and there are some local chapters of the RCA scattered around the diocese.

Chichester Diocese provides a course for those approaching retirement which covers information specifically about housing and finance. Information about these are available from the Diocese or you can discuss matters with your Archdeaconry Retired Clergy Representative (ARCR).

3. Archdeaconry Retired Clergy Representative (ARCR)

The pastoral care of retired clergy and support of their ministry is an important part of the Chichester Diocese policy. This is in line with the House of Bishop’s ‘Policy on Granting Permission to Officiate 2018’.

This pastoral care is normally the responsibility of the appropriate parish priest and the Rural Dean; however, it is ultimately the responsibility of the designated bishop who appoints an archdeaconry retired clergy representatives in each archdeaconry to assist in meeting these responsibilities.

When archdeaconry retired clergy representatives learn of new retired clergy to their archdeaconry (usually because the person requests a PTO or because their previous diocese lets us know of their move), they will aim to contact retired clergy soon after their arrival to the diocese to welcome them and to explore with them the shape of their ministry in retirement.

The Diocese and archdeaconry retired clergy representatives will normally organise gatherings for retired clergy. Depending on the numbers and the geography, this could be for the whole diocese or for smaller areas. The Bishops and Archdeacons normally attend these events.

Rural Deans are encouraged to have regular communication with their archdeaconry retired clergy representatives and to invite them Deanery Chapter and Synod.

Archdeaconry Retirement Clergy Representatives (tba)

  • Chichester Archdeaconry
  • Horsham Archdeaconry
  • Brighton & Lewes Archdeaconry
  • Hastings Archdeaconry

4. Ministry in Retirement

a) Exercising Ministry

Many retired clergy want to be active and are willing to offer their expertise in a supporting pastoral ministry, freed from some of the formal and administrative business of being a parish priest or sector minister.

All ministry should be supportive, enabling others to fulfil their own ministry.

Retirement ministry (with PTO) might be of offering help in the local parish as and when required. This could vary between a very full involvement to being available for holiday or emergency cover only. It is good practice for the relationship and duties to be set out in a working agreement. The incumbent decerns what ministry, if any, a retired cleric should have in their parish.

Some retired clergy are happy to offer help anywhere in the deanery (or wider) as required. In some cases, assisting a parish for a more focussed period in a vacancy can be helpful. The Bishops or archdeacons may approach some retired clergy for assistance in areas under- resourced with clergy.

Nobody should feel obliged to undertake voluntary tasks and all such tasks, whether in the parish or wider, should have a provision for review.

If a retired clergy finds him/herself at odds with the vision of their incumbent, the Rural Dean and Archdeacon should try to find a nearby parish where the retired clergy can minister harmoniously with another incumbent. Sometimes the ARCR may be asked to listen to and support a retired clergy in a difficult situation.

b) Conducting Public Worship

Apart from vacancies and emergencies, the request to conduct public worship should be issued by the incumbent. Those inviting retired clergy to conduct worship should ensure that they are given all the information they need in advance.

When invited to conduct public worship, retired clergy should bear in mind that the worship should be consistent with the usual pattern and conduct of worship of that church; care should also be taken to respect the ministry of lay people and, where the laity is regularly involved in worship, this practice should be encouraged. When arranging the worship, it is important to be sensitive in enquiring whether a Reader will be preaching or performing a liturgical role during the service.

5. Ministerial Review and Continuing Ministerial Education (CME)

Clergy with PTO are not required to have ministerial review; however, if they wish to have a review, they are welcome to contact their parish priest.

Clergy with PTO are welcome and encouraged to take up CMD training offered by the Diocese. Details of courses available can be found here: https://www.chichester.anglican.org/training-brochure/

6. Disciplinary Procedures

All clergy, retired or not, are subject to the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 (CDM). In the case of clergy with PTO the bishop may simply revoke the Permission, although in serious cases the CDM could be used.

7. Representation

The Church Representation Rules were changed in 2004 (Membership of Deanery Synods Rule 24) to give a limited franchise to those with PTO.

Those with PTO have the statutory right to elect one of their number, for every ten or less in a Deanery, onto the House of Clergy of the Deanery Synod, which may also co-opt those with PTO. Those so elected or co-opted may vote and stand as candidates in Diocesan and General Synod elections.

Rural Deans with Lay Chairs are encouraged to be proactive in ensuring ongoing, active PTO representation on their Deanery Synods. Without this representation, retired clergy could be dis- enfranchised and can play no part in the governance of the church.

Those with PTO do not have an automatic right to be members of the Deanery Clergy Chapter, as it is not a synodical body. Practice varies in different deaneries: some deaneries may invite retired clergy to some or all of their chapter meetings, some only a small number, and some deaneries have separate chapter meetings for retired clergy.

8. Communications

There is a Diocesan eNews mailing for regular diocesan news. The eNews mailing is sent to all licenced and PTO clergy. Please subscribe here:


If you cannot find the information that you require on the diocesan website, the ARCRs are able to help.

9. Fees, Expenses and other Payments

Chichester Diocese conforms to the guidelines issued by the National Church. The diocesan website gives information about the diocesan fees policy, https://www.chichester.anglican.org/retired-clergy-expenses/

Normally it is the incumbent’s responsibility to request help from retired clergy for conducting occasional offices (baptisms, weddings and funerals) and their associated visiting. It has to be understood that the fees belong to the parish (partly repaid to the Chichester Diocesan Board of Finance (CDBF)) and so when an individual or a funeral director makes a direct approach to a retired cleric, the retired cleric must seek the agreement of the incumbent of the appropriate benefice/parish and make arrangement for the fees to be paid to the PCC. It is the PCC’s responsibility to pay the appropriate amounts to the retired priest with PTO, if applicable, and the CDBF. Details of the amounts can be found at https://www.chichester.anglican.org/parochial-fees/. No clergy person is allowed to take services without the appropriate permission/license or authorization. It is essential that these procedures are followed so that the CDBF can meet its audit and other legal obligations.

10. Retired Clergy Leaving the Diocese

When a retiring clergy person leaves the diocese, the ARCR will invite them for an exit interview. This will ensure that the Diocese gets appropriate feedback necessary to look after current and future retired clergy.

11. The Church of England Pensions Board - Housing Options

For information regarding the different options for housing in retirement, please refer to the Church of England: https://www.churchofengland.org/resources/clergy-resources/retirement-housing