Canon Flora Winfield to leave Lambeth Palace to become Church’s third estate commissioner
The next third Church Assets Commissioner will be Canon Flora Winfield, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s adviser on reconciliation, it was announced on Tuesday.
Canon Winfield will take up his new role on February 1. She succeeds Dr Eve Poole, an academic who taught leadership at Ashridge Business School for 15 years (News, March 9, 2018; November 26, 2021).
Canon Winfield is the second Lambeth Palace staff member to be appointed to a new management post in recent days. The appointment of the Archbishop’s deputy chief of staff, Stephen Knott, as the archbishops’ secretary for appointments was announced last week (News, January 7).
Canon Winfield was ordained a deacon in Oxford in 1989 and spent two years as a county ecumenical officer in Gloucestershire before being a priest in 1994. She was then chaplain of Mansfield College, Oxford and secretary of the local unit for the Council for Christian Unity, based at Church House, Westminster. She was the pastor canon of Winchester Cathedral from 2002 to 2005.
In 2005, she was appointed Deputy Secretary General of the World Conference on Religions for Peace, before becoming Secretary of International Affairs of Churches Together in Great Britain and Ireland, and Secretary of Anglican Relations to the Archbishop of Canterbury. (2007 to 2014). This involved facilitating face-to-face conversations about sexuality across the Anglican Communion (News, May 14, 2009).
She was representative of the Anglican Communion to the United Nations agencies in Geneva (2014 to 2017) and since 2017 has been the Archbishop’s Special Representative to the Commonwealth. She has held her current post since 2019. From 2008 to 2014 she was Priest in Charge of St Mary At Hill with St Andrew Hubbard, St George Botolph Lane and St Botolph By Billingsgate, in the City of London. She has been a chaplain of the Forces (voluntary reserve) since 1997.
As the third Church Property Commissioner, Canon Winfield will join the Board of Governors of Church Commissioners and chair the Church Mission, Pastoral and Assets Committee and the Bishopric Committee and cathedrals.
Among the elements in his bac, there will be proposals for modifications to the Mission and the pastoral measure (2011), which governs parish reorganization and regulates the future of churches which are no longer considered viable as places of Anglican cult (News, July 2, 2021; July 16, 2021). A consultation document released last summer predicted the possibility of a “wave of closures” over the next 20 to 30 years and reported that five dioceses forecast as many as 40 closures over the next two to five years.
He proposed to give the dioceses the responsibility of managing the processes, including taking into account the representations that are currently reaching the commissioners of the Church. He also suggested streamlining the current consultation process, including potentially limiting who is allowed to make representations, and expected more cases where the clergy would oppose a pastoral reorganization.
The consultation ended at the end of October. An analysis of the responses will be presented to the General Synod next month.
While the Department of Pastoral and Closed Churches denied that the proposals pose a threat to the parish system and argued that it would mean that dioceses can “spend less on administration of processes and more on parishes and mission ”, The document has been described as a“ Charter of those closest to the Church ”by some activists (Commentary, October 1, 2021).
Canon Winfield will also oversee the establishment of co-regulation of cathedrals by Church commissioners in partnership with the Charity Commission, following the final approval of the cathedrals measure in 2020 (News, November 27, 2020) , and the goal set by the General Synod in 2020 for all parts of the Church of England to achieve year-over-year carbon emissions reductions towards net zero by 2030 (News, February 14, 2020). A consultation on how to reach the target is expected to close at the end of February (News, February 5). A survey last year suggested that only 250 churches were meeting the target (News, November 26, 2021).
With a doctorate in divinity from Virginia Theological Seminary, USA, in 2010, Canon Winfield has taught ecclesiology and Church history and has written on ecumenical theology. She has been Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London since 2010 and is Director of the Anglican Alliance, Member of the Bradford Cathedral Chapter and Administrator of the Community of St Andrew.
She said on Tuesday: “I welcome the opportunity to make this contribution to the life and work of the Church of England in a time of change, development and opportunity, as we respond to Christ’s call to grow as disciples, building on our heritage and looking to the future with confidence and hope.