Overview of the Process for the Nomination of a Diocesan Bishop

Announcement of Vacancy

  • The work of the Vacancy in See Committee in relation to filling a see begins when the bishop announces that they are going to retire.
  • The Chair and Secretary of the Vacancy in See Committee will wish to have an early discussion with the Archbishops’ Secretary for Appointments (ASA) to discuss arrangements for the vacancy.
  • The timing for consideration of vacancies by the Crown Nominations Commission will depend on a number of factors including the number of vacant sees and any re-organisation schemes underway through the Dioceses Commission.

Arranging a meeting of the Vacancy in See Committee

  • The first meeting for the purpose of considering a vacancy will be arranged following the discussion between the Chair, Secretary and the ASA.
  • The first meeting should be held “as soon as practicable after the vacancy which the Committee is considering is announced” (5(a)); this requirement will need to be interpreted in the context of each vacant see.
  • The ASA will attend this meeting to brief members on the process for nominating a bishop, to share learning from previous vacancies and to support the Chair and Secretary of the Committee as they navigate the process (which will always have changed from the last time it happened!).

Preparation of material to support Crown Nominations Commission in discerning the needs to of the wider Church and the diocese

  • The Vacancy in See Committee is responsible for preparing “The Diocesan Statement of Needs” which sets out a description of the diocese, reflections on the challenges and opportunities for Gospel and Church in the communities served and the gifts and skills they might be seeking in a new bishop to lead them in their response to these. The CNC may also request other factual information about the diocese and its organisation.
  • The Prime Minister’s and Archbishops’ Secretaries for Appointments will also conduct a listening exercise in relation to the future ministry and mission of the next bishop and the diocese. That exercise will be carried out within the diocese, the National Church Institutions (the strategic and support teams based in London) and the wider Church via a public invitation to contribute thoughts.
  • The Archbishops will provide reflections on the needs of the wider Church both in relation to the Church of England and the Anglican Communion.

Election of Diocesan Representatives to the Crown Nominations Commission

  • The Vacancy in See Committee (ViSC) is responsible for electing six (6) representatives from its own membership to serve on the Crown Nominations Commission for their Diocese.
  • Members of the ViSC are elected to the CNC via a Single transferable vote (STV) process.

Meetings of the Crown Nominations Commission

  • The membership of the Crown Nominations Commission is set out in the Standing Orders of the General Synod (SO 136).
  • For any particular vacancy, the membership will comprise the Archbishops, six representatives elected by the General Synod (“central members”), and six representatives elected by the Diocese (“diocesan representatives”). There are also non-voting members - the Prime Minister’s and Archbishops’ Appointments Secretaries (non-voting members), and one additional member if the CNC chooses to co-opt one (SO 137(4A)).
  • Those members will meet to:
    • Develop the role profile and the person specification for the next bishop
    • Shortlist candidates for interview
    • Interview candidates

Submission of the name of the preferred candidate to the Prime Minister

  • The Chair of the Crown Nominations Commission will write to the Prime Minister advising of the name of the preferred candidate.
  • Disclosure Barring Services (DBS) and medical checks are also conducted.

Nomination by the Sovereign

  • Once a candidate has agreed to accept, the Prime Minister advises the Sovereign who formally nominates the candidate to the vacant see.
  • The Crown then grants to the College of Canons of Ely Cathedral a licence to proceed to elect a bishop and a letter missive naming the person to be elected.

Election by the College of Canons

  • The College of Canons meets to elect the person whom the Sovereign has nominated.
  • In so doing, the College of Canons expresses the consent of the Diocese to the outcome of the process of discernment which has led to the nomination of the candidate.

Confirmation of Election

  • This election is confirmed by the Archbishop of the Province, or a nominated deputy, in an ecclesiastical court. It is the Confirmation of Election which makes the candidate legally the Bishop of ‘X’.
  • While arrangements for the delegation of episcopal functions may remain in operation at this point – on the basis that the new bishop would prefer not to begin public ministry in the diocese before being installed in the cathedral church – the new bishop is, nevertheless, personally responsible as Diocesan Bishop as soon as his or her election has been confirmed and must take the necessary steps to enable him or her to exercise that responsibility despite arrangements for delegation remaining in operation.

Before taking up office

  • Any new bishop not already in episcopal orders will need to be ordained bishop. They will also need to pay homage to the Sovereign. The Diocese will also wish to arrange a service of installation.
Page last updated: Monday 20th November 2023 5:29 AM
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