Like many such publications, this Diocesan Handbook has a long history. In several editions of Bishop's Regulations our predecessors gradually brought together a wide variety of material that set out the experience and good pastoral practice, as well as the discipline and law, of this unique Diocese in the Church of God.
In 1998 my predecessor, Bishop John Hind, described the previous edition as 'intended to serve both as a guide to the application of the general law of the Church of England in the particular circumstances of our Diocese, and as a helpful tool in the administration of chaplaincy affairs'. That edition has been reread and modified; corrections and changes have been made. In particular the founding documents of the Diocese, the Measure and the Diocesan Constitution, have been added, along with more recent documents such as those on child protection. Many of the various application forms have been removed (and will be available in a more practical format from the Diocesan Office). And much useful supplementary material, recently published in the new edition of the Canons of the Church of England, is brought to a wider readership.
Some of the Handbook's sections repeat parts of the ecclesiastical law of the Church of England; some show in detail how that law applies to the different circumstances of our Diocese (e.g., this year's revised rules concerning churchwardens); some are the Bishop's formal Guidelines on particular subjects (e.g., admission to Communion before confirmation, the solemnization of matrimony, the ministry of women priests, and child protection); some record formal decisions of the Diocesan Synod, including those made in its capacity as the Diocesan Board of Finance (e.g., the arrangements for Common Fund); and some simply provide information about the administration of the Diocese (e.g., the responsibilities of the Diocesan Office and its staff).
But the Handbook is not a substitute for the various pieces of legislation on which it is based. In particular each parish should have its own copy of the latest editions of —
The Canons of the Church of England (6th edition - 2000)
The Church Representation Rules (7th edition – 2001; abbreviated 'CRR' throughout).
Copies of these may be obtained from Church House Publishing: www.chbookshop.co.uk.
The prime aim throughout has been to present a very great deal of information in a way that makes reference simple and fast. In the nature of a reference book there is a particular obligation to communicate received policy and practice in a clear fashion. And, broadly speaking, the structure and scope of the book – especially chapter 3 – makes it a valuable commentary on the Canons.
Although I am new to the Diocese – and very grateful that such a book exists to help me in my new ministry – many new chaplains and assistant clergy, churchwardens and council secretaries, archdeaconry synod members and canons of the cathedral chapter, will take up responsibilities in the future, and will prove the worth of such a compendium as this. It is expected that this edition will survive for some years yet, but necessary revisions will be collated. So, suggest improvements or corrections where you believe there is need; identify what you find most useful and helpful.
Some of the major updates here have received the assent of the Bishop's Staff Meeting and the Diocesan Synod in the past few months. However, I want to thank especially the small team who have done the most to bring this edition to publication – the Diocesan Secretary, the Assistant Diocesan Secretary, and my Chaplain. They have done much to provide a means of helping us grow together, so that we can more effectively fulfil our calling to be a Diocese in the Church of God.
Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe
1 October 2001
St Thérèse of Liseaux
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