June 13, 2017
The Reverend Canon Adrian Daffern was elected to the committee of the Ecclesiastical Law Society at our AGM in April 2017. He is Team Rector of the Benefice of Blenheim and Assistant Archdeacon of Dorchester, and has a written some words to introduce himself to society members:
Fans of ‘Yes, Minister’ may remember the episode where Jim Hacker’s Department of Administrative affairs is proposed for the chop. Bernard, the minister’s hapless PPS, suggests a publicity campaign with the strapline ‘red tape is fun’. Strangely, this was not thought to be a winner.
‘Ecclesiastical Law is fun’ might well be thought to belong to the Bernard Woolley school of advertising, but, honestly, it is in the context of the ELS. As well as being Team Rector of a busy benefice just north of Oxford, I enjoy being Assistant Archdeacon of Dorchester. I try to help clergy, churchwardens, and others, see that, far from being a hindrance to the Gospel, church law can be a real help, providing perspective, context, and guidance.
It may not always seem like that when the DAC sends something back for reconsideration, the Chancellor says no, or the Archdeacon is grumpy (not that that ever happens). But I’ve discovered that my colleagues are passionate, caring, and mission-minded, often taking a long view that the immediacy of parish life can, understandably, blinker. On the other hand, the realities of ministry are frequently a good reminder to them/us that rules need radical and rapid interpretation, and sometimes changing, if the church is to grow.
At our last conference in Cambridge, I was struck by just how mission-minded the presentations, conversations, and debates were. With keynote speakers like Bishop Christine Hardman, Sam Wells and Lucy Winkett, the Gospel was front and centre of all that we did.
I’m delighted to be serving on the committee of the ELS alongside some amazing lawyers, parish clergy, churchwardens and archdeacons. We are making serious strides in terms of education and training, with an absolute desire to help support the Church of England in its vocation of serving our nation worshipfully, wisely and well.
Ecclesiastical law is fun! Well, OK, perhaps not always. But it’s here, and it’s real, and the ELS is determined to provide conferences and resources to place it at your service, and the service of all God’s people. I’m glad to be part of that service.