Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The Structure of the Church of England

Somebody on Twitter was saying, is there anybody able to describe the structure of the Church of England? I'll be honest, what did I know? So I phoned Eileen, who gave me a quick description, and I drew it up. It seemed to me that the key elements that describe the structure of the Church of England are
(a) The top-down nature of Bishops, managing through Rural Deans / Archdeacons, down to local priests
(b) The bottom-up system of "checks and balances", whereby the local congregation elect PCCs, who elect Deanery Synods, above which are Diocesan Synods, above which are the General Synod.  This can be graphically represented, in organisational terms, thus:

Idealised structure of the Church of England
This seemed to me a bit idealised. Too simple, not what I had heard. So I phoned Eileen back, emailed her the image and said - are you sure this is right?

And she said to me - "Church of England? I thought you were after the structure of the John Lewis Partnership."

Idealised structure of the John Lewis Partnership
And so I realised I would have to start again. It turns out that the Church of England is indeed more complex that this. So I have left Burton Dasset to try to work it out. He was working in 6 dimensions last I heard.

And so my conclusions are twofold. The first is that the John Lewis Partnership seems to have a more rational structure than the Church of England - albeit not totally dissimilar. And the second is that, if the Church of England advertising campaign this Christmas features a Smiths Song, an animated bear and a bunch of rabbits, we will know why.


  1. The structure of the Church of England is a typical British fudge. Since clear chains of command are actually available circa God-Queen-Arch Bishops-Bishops-Arch Deacons-Area Deans-Parish Priest-PCC-The Rabble, I can see that the bits on the side such as Synods, Church Commissioners, Arch Bishops Council, Bishops Council cause a lot of confusion.

    My proposal is that we adopt the same model for the CofE as I propose for Government:

    Government Church
    God God
    Queen Queen
    Privy Council Arch Bishops Council
    Richard Dawkins Richard Dawkins
    National Secular Society Arch Druid Eileen
    EHCR European Commission
    ATOS Amazon
    TESCO Sainsburys
    ASDA Morrisons
    Energy Companies Bishops
    The Banks Clergy
    The Markets PCC
    Parliament The People

    With these structures which are already in place for the government, we'll have some clarity and monopolies and pay less taxes.


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