The role of Chancellor is a vocation which brings together my Christian faith, p

First published on: 18th October 2018

Why do you feel called to the role of Chancellor?

I do see the role of Chancellor as a vocation which brings together my Christian faith, professional and legal knowledge and judicial experience, so the decision to accept the appointment was not too difficult – apart from the fact that the field of candidates was remarkably small!

How do you feel following in the footsteps of Sir Mark?

Sir Mark’s shoes are somewhat big to fill, but I have been privileged to have known him all my professional life and used him as an informal mentor from time to time – especially when occasionally deputising in the chancellor role over the past 10 years or so.

What does the role involve?

As the senior ecclesiastical judge within the Diocese it carries the responsibility of ensuring that our consecrated historic church buildings, artefacts and memorials are sensitively modified, or modernised, respecting the balance between mission and the architectural and historic interests, as decisions are made on the numerous faculty applications which are processed – although minor works will continue to come under the purview of the Archdeacons.

What are your main aims and priorities?

Obviously, I would like to continue Sir Mark’s legacy and ensure that the Chancellor’s jurisdiction and the consistory court (where necessary) is seen in a facilitating capacity rather than an obstacle course to be negotiated. The mission of the church and its service and witness to the wider community must, of course, have a paramount position when individual churches move forward with exciting plans for renovation and adaptation for a modern congregation – or even simple changes to old and antiquated buildings and plant – but in those rare cases where changes cannot be accepted in the interest of aesthetic or historic preservation, I would hope that the respect for legal tradition, precedent and the rule of law would be appreciated. After all, that is precisely what Jesus instructed.

What are your thoughts about the faculty process being seen as a burden?

Yes, it can be seen as a burden and many parishes will be frustrated that they have to pass through these legal hoops to achieve the modernisation they need and have prayerfully sought to thrive (or even survive).

However, as we become a bigger church with wider participation to make a bigger difference, it is important to acknowledge that the wider societal interests include a respect for our heritage and history and a sensitivity to those who are more resistant of change.

If we disregard those interests, our church will not be bigger but seen as isolated and inward-looking. A bigger church is one which includes and tolerates many different standpoints!

How will the online faculty system make a difference for parishes?

Most parishes are prepared to embrace modern technology and IT systems. Almost all secular processes are going online, so why not the faculty system? It is hoped that those petitioning for faculties will find the process, quicker, more efficient and interactive than snail mail and endless paperwork. And this Chancellor also prefers digital!

Tell us something about yourself – professional career – hobbies and family

I have lived and practiced law on Merseyside for most of my life. I married a local girl and have a family (three boys – two now married and three young grandchildren) and mainly still Merseyside based.

We worshipped in Childwall (All Saints) for over 30 years, where I had a ministry as a lay reader after several years of youth work, and where my wife Jan managed an early years’ setting, before moving recently to Waterloo. We have started worshipping at St Luke's’ Crosby when other commitments allow (and where I have yet to admit having a reader’s license although I suspect it is already known!).

In 2011, after a number of years as a QC practicing in crime, human rights and medical law I was appointed as a circuit judge in Liverpool, and in 2014 became a senior circuit judge with overall responsibility for the civil courts and other civil judges (all 23 of them) in Cheshire and Merseyside.

I occasionally sit in the High Court and as a mental health judge and have some responsibility for the ongoing education of others at the Judicial College. I am on the governing body at Hope University and have previously served as Chair of Governors at Liverpool College.

Downtime? Spending time with lovely grandkids, doing up the ancient but lovely seaside house we live in, writing for fun, and passionately following LFC – as keen if not keener than your Diocesan secretary! Oh, and whenever the opportunity arises, sailing offshore as willing crew anywhere and everywhere, after years of having our own sailboats….

The mission of the church and its service and witness to the wider community must, of course, have a paramount position when individual churches move forward with exciting plans for renovation and adaptation for a modern congregation


Diocese to roll out the online faculty system

Some parishes have already used the national church online faculty system to great effect but we are now looking to roll it out across our diocese by April 2019. 

By using this system, parishes will find the processing of faculty applications will be made a great deal easier.

We will be updating in further articles over the next few months but you can view the system here

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