Message from the Chair

April 26, 2024

Elizabeth Wilson, Chair of the Ecclesiastical Law Society, writes:

Dear members,

I am writing to you in advance of our AGM on Saturday at which I shall be stepping down as Chair of the Society after concluding my term of office.

It has been a great privilege to lead the Society since March 2021. Although my term of office commenced during the Covid-19 lockdowns, with the help of a newly-formed executive team, and the technology already in place, we were able to continue to navigate the challenges of Covid-19 ensuring that the spirit of the Society continued during those dark days and that its fellowship and sense of common purpose remained undiminished.

Having emerged from the Covid-19 lockdowns and having been able to meet again in person, it has become clear that as a membership we value both on-line and face-to-face events. These two streams now continue side-by-side and are growing. Our Journal continues to go from strength to strength as the leading peer-reviewed journal in the field. Activities led by trustees, committees, and working parties have continued to make valuable contributions to the field of ecclesiastical law, as detailed in our annual reports. Last but not least we are delighted that His All-Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew shares our interest in ecclesiastical law and will be the keynote speaker at our weekend conference in Chichester from 20th to 22nd June 2025 marking the 1700th anniversary of the first Ecumenical Council at Nicaea.

Notwithstanding all of the above, however, the ELS is not immune from the financial realities affecting every organization in the present economic climate. Increases to membership rates will be needed in the coming year to sustain the Society’s work, and I hope that members will understand the need for these increases to secure the Society’s future. Last year’s members’ survey revealed that for a majority of us, the most important reason we belong to the ELS is ‘being part of the ecclesiastical law community’. Your membership subscriptions enable this community to thrive. Thank you for supporting the work of the trustees, officers, and volunteers over the past three years. With your continued support, I know the Society stands in a good position for the years ahead.

As you will have seen, only one candidate has been nominated as Chair for the AGM elections on Saturday. I have worked alongside Lee Coley on the ELS trustee board, and I know he will bring wisdom, energy and enthusiasm to the role. He is a diocesan registrar and an experienced practising ecclesiastical lawyer. I whole-heartedly commend him to you and will be glad to offer any support to him and the trustees as Lee leads the Society in the coming years.

I look forward to continuing my involvement in the life of our Society, and in particular I hope to revive the Northern Province lectures.

It has been an honour to be Chair of the ELS, and I pray that God continues to bless all our work, for His glory and the good of His Church.

with best wishes,

Elizabeth Wilson
Ecclesiastical Law Society