A(n Official) Question about Faithfulness in Service

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The Anglican Church of Australia has produced a very helpful discussion guide [pdf] to accompany Faithfulness in Service [pdf]. Faithfulness in Service (FiS) is the church’s governing document with respect to professional standards of behaviour, not least for clergy. It covers, amongst other things, sexual behaviour.

The discussion guide has some very helpful questions which allow a diocese to think through implementation of the standards in their common life. This one stood out (Discussion 4, page 8):

2. Do the standards in these sections of Faithfulness in Service accurately reflect the standards for clergy and church workers that are presently understood to be operating in your Diocese?

And that, my friends, is a fantastic official question! Are there dioceses which, while having adopted Faithfulness in Service, don’t actually fully implement and operate it? If the standards didn’t match at implementation, then what is being done to accelerate implementation? And although it is hard to change what is already in place … what should a diocese, and the bishop of a diocese, do when a new situation is presented (for example, the installation of a priest whose life does not conform to FiS)? Act consistently with Faithfulness in Service or ignore it? Which is best practice? Which upholds the doctrine, discipline and practice of the church? What should a bishop do? Ignore Faithfulness in Service or seek to fully implement it?

And what would an insurer think about the cost of premiums if they knew that a diocese was not committed to fully implementing adopted professional standards? I understand that full implementation of Faithfulness in Service would reduce premiums – that’s the experience of many dioceses. So what would happen if insurers lost confidence that Faithfulness in Service was being adhered to?

Gippsland, along with every other diocese in Australia, has adopted Faithfulness in Service.

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  1. Sandy Grant

    David, this is a very good question. However you might not be quite correct in all your assertions, in particular regarding whether or not every Diocese in Australia has adopted Faithfulness in Service.

    FIS was adopted as the Code of Conduct for General Synod in 2004.

    The explanatory statement material for FIS at GS2004 made it explicit that the wording selected –
    “7.4 You are to be chaste and not engage in sex outside of marriage.”
    were designed to rule out homosexual activity. This was carefully clarified in question time regarding the adoption of the Code of Conduct.

    At the same GS, FIS was commended to each Diocese as the Code of Conduct to adopt, so we have a uniform national approach.

    I asked the following question at the next General Synod to draw out the fact that some Dioceses had not adopted FIS as such. Unsurprisingly, the question was answered in a way that made it hard for people to know what the real answer was…

    Q11/07 Faithfulness in Service
    The Reverend Canon Sandy Grant asked:
    Noting Resolution 35/04 Child Protection:
    i. Which dioceses have not adopted a code of personal behaviour that includes all the elements of Faithfulness in Service as its core and minimum standards, and
    ii. In regards to standards of sexual conduct, are there any variations in diocesan codes from the standard expressed in Faithfulness in Service that “you are to be chaste and not engage in sex outside marriage”, and
    iii. If so, by which dioceses, and what are the terms of the variations or alternatives?
    The President gave the following answer: 21/10/07
    All known information relating to this question can be found on page 139 of Book 3A –
    Standing Committee Report

    You can find a PDF of Book 3A here.

    If you chase it down far enough you discover that the following Dioceses did not adopt FIS without change from GS:
    * Adelaide – Adopted with amendments by Synod
    And if you chase those via the Adelaide Diocese website, you will see their version of FIS waters down the provisions about chastity to read “7.4 You are to be chaste and not engage in disgraceful conduct of a sexual nature” which leaves any consensual sexual activity with an adult to whom you are not married and is not under your pastoral care a matter entirely for your subjective judgment!
    * Canberra & Goulburn – Adopted its own code: “The Diocesan Code of Good Practice” which incorporates substantial parts of Faithfulness in Service. Once again, it waters down the relevant matter, with the following wording:
    “S2.2 Church workers will be faithful in marriage.
    S2.3 Church workers’ sexual behaviour will be characterised by faithfulness and integrity.”
    * Grafton – Adopted 2005 and amended by Synod May 2006 (not sure what the amendments were)
    * Tasmania – Adopted by Synod June 2006 with minor changes and additional material in ‘Children’ section.
    * The Murray – Adopted FIS & Professional Standards Protocol as amended and adopted by Adelaide.

    In regards to Gippsland, it was reported to GS in 2007 as follows… “Gippsland – Code ‘promulgated’ by Bishop i.e. put in place as standard Code. Subsequently adopted the Code in the form common to Dioceses in the Province of Victoria”. I think (but have not double-checked) that this does include the original wording of FIS in regards to 7.4.

  2. David Ould

    Thanks Sandy. All really helpful information. The Diocesan Professional Standards page cites the national FiS documents. In the absence of anything to the contrary, it appears that they have (wisely) adopted it.

    We await a response from Bishop McIntyre.

  3. Sandy Grant

    No worries, it was good for me to find all this again, and post it somewhere public for a bit of corporate memory!

  4. Brian McKinlay

    I believe that the Code of Good Practice now in place in the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn has also been adopted by the Diocese of Riverina and the Diocese of Bathurst. This is part of wide-ranging effort for co-operation and consistency between the three neigbouring dioceses as part of a tri-diocesan covenant.

    1. Revd Daryl

      Bathurst is still using FIS – I had to sign a document signifying my acceptance of FIS prior to my ordination.

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