The Bishop, as 'chief pastor of all within his diocese' (Canon C18.1) has overall responsibility for ensuring that all the people of the Diocese of Guildford have good access to public worship and to Christian teaching. Clergy, supported by Churchwardens and PCCs, carry forward this episcopal ministry into the parishes and communities of the Diocese. What clergy and parishes do, therefore, should be done in communion with the Bishop and with accountability to the Bishop.
In general, a Bishop's responsibility covers the following:
What we do should conform to the meaning of the Declaration of Assent, which every licensed Deacon and Priest is required to make.
What we do should further the extension of God's Kingdom in Christ into the experience of the people. The Canons were re-issued in 2012 (7th edition ISBN 9780715110584) and are available in a loose leaf folder from the Church House Bookshop and other suppliers. They are also available as an electronic book on the Church of England website. The cost of such reference materials can be seen as legitimate expense of office, especially for Incumbents, and can be reclaimed from PCCs.
What is done must meet the essential demands of the order of the Church. The law provides for the way we do things and what may be done, where and when and by whom.
Every parish priest should be conversant with the following:
- The Book of Common Prayer, which is a standard for doctrine in the Church of England
- Canon Law, which sets out the basic order of the Church in the conduct of worship
- All forms of worship and resources for worship authorised for use in the Church. Both Canon Law (see Canon B5) and this range of authorised material give flexibility to clergy and parishes. If there is any doubt as to the meaning, clergy and parishes can always seek the comment of the Bishop of Dorking, who is the link person on this for the Bishop's Staff.