SEARCH Journal

Governance in the Church of Ireland today - a theological angle on the challenges ahead

IN THE CHURCH of Ireland today, governance - or who has the power to decide what - has become an increasingly important issue. This is particularly the case in relation to Charities legislation, which requires that governing bodies at any level must consist of people conversant with the central aims of the entity they administer; but it’s also the case in relation to principles of hierarchy and democracy, which can too easily come into conflict in church life.

So in what follows I hope to clarify some issues relating to governance in the life of our Church, and attempt more specifically to plot something of a theology of governance. In simple terms, governance has to do with the responsible administration of an organisation to achieve a set of desired goals. Good governance will exhibit the necessary principles of any collective enterprise: accountability, transparency, justice, and equity. As a theme, governance quickly brings into play a cluster of topics that are of great importance to the church and to the wider society in which we live. So it is a complex matter! The immediate governance context we all face in our parishes and dioceses concerns the implementation of our respective Charities’ Acts (2009 and 2011).1 More of this anon. It is also worth setting these immediate concerns within a wider frame of reference.

* Full article available in printed copies.

willOlhausen|William Olhausen|william-olhausen

William Olhausen

is rector of Killiney Ballybrack (Dublin), national coordinator for CME, hon sec of the Dublin and Glendalough diocesan councils, and a member of the standing committee to the General Synod.