July 21, 2018
At the ELS committee meeting on 5 June 2018, we welcomed four new trustees, recently elected or co-opted to the committee: Luke Tatam (standing back left in the photograph), Ben Harrison (back right), Ruth Arlow (front left), and Paul Benfield (front right). We introduce two of them below, with two further introductions to follow:
Ruth Arlow was elected to the ELS Committee in March 2018. She is currently Chancellor of the Dioceses of Norwich and Salisbury, having served as Deputy Chancellor in the Dioceses of Chichester, Norwich and Oxford. She is a member of the Standing Committee of the Ecclesiastical Judges Association and she serves the National Church on the Legal Advisory Commission and as a Legal Chair of the Clergy Discipline Tribunal. She has been Case Notes Editor for the Ecclesiastical Law Journal since 2001.
Ruth has a Masters degree in Canon Law from Cardiff University. She has gained a breadth of experience in her various roles as a family barrister, a lecturer in professional legal skills at Monash University in Melbourne and at Bristol Law School, Chair of Governors of a Church of England primary school and a Sunday school teacher. She lives in Somerset with her husband, their three daughters and their labrador, Myfanwy. She introduces herself to society members:
“I am often met with blank looks or, at best, polite smiles when I explain what I do for a living. Ecclesiastical law is not an area of law with which many are familiar, and yet it touches the lives of a surprising number of us. I came rather late to an understanding that rules and good governance are vital to the proper flourishing God’s church – to an efficiency of operation and a sense of order and fairness. Such things nurture rather than diminish the sharing of the Gospel.
“I know that the operation of the faculty jurisdiction can cause frustration and upset but, in my experience, that almost always happens where there is a lack of knowledge and understanding about how the system works, by clergy or lay people, or even the lawyers themselves. The Ecclesiastical Law Society is a body of people dedicated to the wider understanding of Ecclesiastical Law. It provides a substantial programme of educational and training events which are both practical and relevant and also high quality, attracting speakers of real skill and eminence. The Society also fulfils a wider role in the development of church law through it engagement with consultations and working parties. The committee are a dedicated bunch with a huge breadth of experience between them. I am delighted to be serving with them. My experience there reflects my wider experience of working in the world of Ecclesiastical Law – it is a privilege to work alongside people of vision, passion, enthusiasm and generosity of spirit. I look forward to playing my part.”
Having been a member of the Ecclesiastical Law Society since early 2011, Luke Tatam now serves on the ELS Committee (having been co-opted in June 2018). He worked at 1 The Sanctuary for five years as a Clerk in five Diocesan Registries, the Faculty Office of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Ecclesiastical Department of Lee Bolton Monier-Williams, during which time he gained a close understanding of – and practical experience in – areas of ecclesiastical law including the Faculty Jurisdiction, clergy Terms of Service, and church marriage preliminaries. His current job is as Assistant Secretary to the DAC in Southwark Diocese, the ‘DAC’ being a statutory committee whose full title is the Diocesan Advisory Committee for the Care of Churches. In his own words:
“The move from 1 The Sanctuary to Southwark DAC has allowed me to continue to work within ecclesiastical law, specialising in the Faculty Jurisdiction, as well as maintain a broader view of associated areas of law both ecclesiastical and secular. Both roles have shown me how the law is the ‘servant’ not the ‘master’ of the church, and that it should be understood and applied pragmatically. It fits within a practical, pastoral and missional context, and is both adapting and (in the right sense) unchanging.
“Ecclesiastical law is about identity and relationships: the identity of the church and the relationships between those in the church. What we mean by ecclesiastical law is also the law of the church (both statute-law and case-law) and the remainder of this country’s law as it applies to the church.
“This is where the dual identity of the Ecclesiastical Law Society fits in; this august organisation looks both inward and outward, with its various activities including lectures, conferences and journal articles exploring not only religious law (particularly – though not only – of the Church of England), but also law and religion more widely. It is a privilege for me to have been asked to join the ELS Committee, with its varied membership of lawyers, practitioners, clergy, laity, academics and others, and I look forward to continuing to be a part of the Society in the years to come.”