The Church Commissioners approved the Diocese of Liverpool’s proposals for a new structure of church in Wigan.
This followed a consultation process which saw several representations from those concerned about diocesan proposals. As a result the Commissioners held a formal hearing in Wigan to enable interested parties to present their cases.
The Commission have announced the reasons behind their decision on their website.
You can read the judgment here
You can see the background here
The Church Commissioners have also set out a right to appeal for those who submitted a written objection. They have sent details to those entitled to appeal. Those wishing to appeal will have until October 28th to submit a written notice.
In their judgment the Commissioners stated that they were satisfied that the Diocese had done all that was required in terms of their consultation process which resulted in amendments to the proposals. They were satisfied “it would be right to allow the scheme to proceed, notwithstanding the representations made against it”.
However they “noted the degree of hurt expressed by many of those making representations and that the tone of some of the communication from Team Wigan had not been helpful in this respect”. The commissioners said they were “grateful for Bishop Paul’s honest acknowledgment of the mistakes that had been made, and of the hurt experienced and strongly recommended that, as part of the process of implementing the draft scheme, he and his team take steps to address the hurt caused with parts of the Deanery.”
We have taken that feedback seriously. We know we have made mistakes in some aspects of our consultation and as the Commissioners themselves said we see the Public Hearing as a watershed in bringing members of the community back together. As a first step Rev Neil Cook, who we have appointed to head the leadership team, will be visiting parishes across the deanery to listen to people across Wigan and continue the process started at the hearing.
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd Paul Bayes said “I am deeply grateful to all who have taken part in this important consultation around these proposals. I have always stated that to be fit for mission and to see a bigger church making a bigger difference then we need to challenge the way we organise ourselves. However, I am aware that all changes, especially those which affect the traditions generations have been accustomed to, create challenges.
I hear, and take seriously, the sincere criticisms and objections that have been put forward and thank all those who have taken time to make their view heard. I will continue to encourage Neil and the Church Wigan team to listen to all voices in the debate and to support them as they do. This judgment enables us to move to the important work of encouraging yet more people in Wigan to start on a discipleship journey.”