THE APPOINTMENT OF INCUMBENTS

Guidance Notes for Isle of Man Parishes
on the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986

PART A — INTRODUCTORY

1. The Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986

These notes summarise the effect of the Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986, for the information of parochial church councils. The text of the Measure, as modified by the Patronage Measure (Isle of Man) 1997 (SD 637/97), may be viewed here.

2. Patronage

The right to present an incumbent to a benefice belongs to the "patron". In the Isle of Man all livings are in the gift of either the Crown or the Bishop (or of both by turns), with one exception. A list of the benefices and their patrons may be viewed here. Special rules apply to benefices in the gift of the Crown, which are summarised in Part C below. Where the patron is a body, or is an individual who is not in Holy Orders or an actual communicant, it or he is to appoint a representative to act under the Measure.

3. Benefices with more than one PCC

A benefice may have more than one PCC, where its area comprises 2 or more parishes, or where a parish has more than one PCC, or where 2 or more benefices are held in plurality. Special rules apply in those cases, and are summarised below. However, if a joint PCC has been established for 2 or more parishes, the joint PCC will represent those parishes in place of the individual PCCs.

PART B — BENEFICES OTHER THAN CROWN BENEFICES

4. First steps on a vacancy

When a vacancy arises in a benefice, the Bishop will first notify the Diocesan Registrar, who is responsible for co-ordinating the procedures for consultation under the Measure. The Registrar will then notify the secretary of the PCC and the patron. (In some circumstances however the Bishop may decide instead to "suspend the presentation" for up to 5 years, pending action by the Church Commissioners for the Isle of Man under the Mission and Pastoral Measure (Isle of Man) 2012. In that case the PCC will be notified of his decision and will be consulted by the Commissioners on their proposals.)

5. Meeting of the PCC

The PCC is required, within 4 weeks of the notification by the Registrar, to hold a meeting to deal with the following matters. The secretary is responsible for convening the meeting, and the usual notice must be given (notice to be posted near the door of every church in the parish at least 10 days before the meeting, and at least 7 days' notice to be given to each member). The outgoing incumbent, his spouse, the patron and the appointed representative of the patron are not entitled to attend the meeting. The duties of the PCC are:

  1. to prepare a "statement describing the conditions, needs and traditions of the parish";
  2. to appoint 2 lay members of the PCC to act as its representatives (see 6 below);
  3. to decide whether to request the patron to advertise the vacancy;
  4. to decide whether to request a meeting between the PCC, the Bishop and the patron;
  5. to decide whether to request the Bishop to provide it with a statement, in relation to the benefice, of the needs of the diocese and the wider interests of the Church.

The statement under (a), and the names of the PCC's representatives, are to be sent to the Bishop and to the patron as soon as possible after the meeting. If no statement is sent, the PCC's representatives have no right to oppose an offer of the living (see 8 below). Where the benefice has more than one PCC, the PCCs are to hold a joint meeting, convened by the secretaries. They may decide to make a joint statement ((a) above), or each make a separate statement.

6. Lay representatives of the PCC

The representatives of the PCC (see 5(b) above) play an important part in the procedure under the Measure, and they must be carefully chosen. If the PCC fails to appoint them, the churchwardens are to act as representatives; if there are more than 2 churchwardens, they are to choose 2 of their number to act. The spouse of the outgoing incumbent, the patron, his appointed representative, or a deaconess or lay worker licensed to the parish, may not be appointed. If a representative ceases to be a member of the PCC, his appointment is revoked and the PCC is to appoint a new representative in his place, unless it decides that he should continue. A representative who dies or is unable to act is to be replaced. A joint meeting of 2 or more PCCs is to appoint at least 4 representatives, so that each PCC has at least one, and not more than 2, representatives. If it fails to do so, the churchwardens of all the parishes are to appoint not more than 5 of their number as representatives.

7. Meeting of PCC with Bishop and patron

Either the Bishop, the patron or the PCC (see 5(d)) may request a joint meeting to exchange views on the PCC's statement and any statement made by the Bishop (see 5(a) and (e)). This is to be called by the secretary of the PCC, and is to take place within 6 weeks of a request by the Bishop or patron or a resolution by the PCC to request a meeting; at least 14 days' notice of the meeting is to be given. If no meeting is called, the PCC's representatives have no right to oppose an offer of the living (see 8 below). Where there are 2 or more PCCs, the meeting is to be a joint meeting of all the PCCs with the Bishop and the patron, called by the PCC secretaries. If the Bishop or the patron cannot attend, he must appoint a representative to attend in his place. The outgoing incumbent and his spouse may not attend the meeting, but the rural dean and the lay chairman of the deanery synod are to be invited to attend. The chairman of the meeting is to be chosen by those present. A quorum consists of the Bishop and the patron (or their representatives) and one-third of the membership of the PCC or PCCs.

8. Approval of appointment

The patron may not make an offer to a priest to present him to the benefice unless two conditions are fulfilled:

  1. a meeting between the Bishop, patron and PCC has been held (see 7) or the 6 weeks referred to in 7 above has elapsed without a meeting being held;
  2. the offer has been approved by the Bishop and the parish representatives (see 6).

The Bishop has 4 weeks to reject a request to approve an offer, and any of the parish representatives has 2 weeks to do so (but see 5 & 7 above); if no rejection is notified within the time allowed, the offer is deemed to have been approved. The patron may appeal to the Archbishop against any rejection (except where the PCC has resolved not to accept a woman priest as incumbent and the rejection is on that ground).

9. Notice of institution

The Bishop is required to give the secretary of the PCC 3 weeks' notice of his intention to institute a priest to a benefice. The secretary is to post a copy of the notice near the main door of every church in the parish.

PART C — CROWN BENEFICES

10. By an Order in Council dated 15th July 2015 HM The Queen has delegated to the Bishop her rights of patronage in the Isle of Man. The Bishop is required to give notice of a vacancy to the Lieutenant Governor; HM The Queen then has 28 days within which she may choose to make the presentation herself. Otherwise the procedures in Part B above apply to livings in the gift of the Crown (including cases where the right to present belongs to the Crown and the Bishop by turns, and it is the Crown's turn to present).

Revised Sep 2015