September 27, 2017
Frances Godden was elected to the ELS Committee in April 2017. She is currently Deputy Diocesan Secretary for the Diocese of Ely in April 2016, having formerly been its Deputy Registrar. Frances is also the Secretary to the DAC and the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committees, which ensures her continued development in the practice of ecclesiastical law and its application to parishes and clergy ‘on the ground’, and gives Frances key insight into the workings of ecclesiastical law at its most fundamental level. She introduces herself to society members:
The response “ecclesiastical” to the oft-asked question “in what area of law do you specialise?” at various social and professional events rarely fails to elicit a raised eyebrow, and even on occasion a laugh. It may be niche, to be sure, but in my line of employment it is a pleasure to see the daily realisation of the advice I give and work I do throughout the Diocese. Whilst the red tape that inevitably binds us can frustrate – in particular insofar as work on our glorious church buildings and pastoral reorganisation are concerned – as an historian, I thrill at operating under a regime which still bears hallmarks of the establishment of the Church of England in the 16th century, but also seeks to develop and adapt to meet the changing framework of our 21st century church.
As a member of the ELS, and now with a place on its committee, I enjoy a real sense of being at the front line of these developments, and a sense of ‘being useful’ as we work together with other lawyers, clergy and lay people to encourage developments and improvements in the structures and governance of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction. I can see the practical results of this as I encourage parochial clergy, churchwardens and others involved in diocesan administration to engage and learn from the law how it can best help them in their work and ministry. The work is real, and rewarding.
Membership of the ELS offers valuable opportunities not only to network and build up a framework of professional contacts, but also to enjoy socialising with like-minded people at the informative lectures and conferences (with an increasingly youthful membership and fine wine often to hand, it’s not all ‘shop!’). In its more formal guise, the ELS has a unique and powerful voice – and it is a privilege to be a part of it.