Appointment of a New Incumbent

The Patronage (Benefices) Measure 1986 and Patronage (Benefices) Rules 1987 set out the procedure to be followed for selecting a new incumbent when a benefice becomes vacant.

Under the provisions of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011, the Bishop has the power to suspend the patron’s right of presentation to the vacant benefice, in order to allow plans for pastoral reorganisation to be considered or implemented. In such a case the Bishop may wish to appoint a priest-in-charge. Although a priest-in-charge is legally different from an incumbent, in that a priest-in-charge does not have a freehold, their respective responsibilities in the parish are the same, and parishioners will be unlikely to know that there is a difference. Moreover the procedures for appointment are very similar.

Forms are prescribed by the Patronage (Benefices) Rules 1987 for use by Patrons and Parochial Church Councils in connection with the appointment of an incumbent (but not in the case of the appointment of a priest-in-charge). If you would like a copy of any of the forms in Adobe Acrobat or Word format, please contact the Diocesan Registry, or use the links below for Word versions.

Form 15    Individual Patron’s Declaration/Appointment of Representative
This Form is used to allow an individual Patron wishing to exercise a right of presentation to make the required declaration that they are a communicant member of the Church of England. For this declaration, Part A of the Form is used. If the Patron is not able to make this declaration, but wishes to appoint a representative to act in the Patron’s place, the representative should complete Part B of the Form.

Form 16   Appointment of Representative by Patron (not an individual)
This Form is used where the right of presentation is held by a corporate body. The Form enables the patron to nominate a representative to act on its behalf, and the representative makes a declaration that he or she is a communicant member of the Church of England.

Form 17   Notification of Intention to Institute or Collate
This form is sent to the relevant PCC Secretaries once a candidate has been appointed, to give public notice of the intention to institute or collate a new incumbent. The new incumbent will be collated if the sole patron is the Bishop, or instituted if there are other patrons.

The Form 17 is prepared by the Diocesan Registry, and sent to the PCC Secretary not later than 3 weeks before the proposed date of institution/collation. The PCC Secretary must arrange for the notice to be displayed on the door of the parish church for at least 2 weeks before the date of institution/collation.

Form 30   Notification of Vacancy to Designated Officer
This form is used when a vacancy arises in a benefice, and starts the process under which a new incumbent is appointed. The Bishop gives notice to the “designated officer”, who in Norwich is the Diocesan Secretary, and copies the notice to the Diocesan Registrar. The designated officer then notifies the registered patron(s) and the secretary of the relevant PCC’s.

Form 34   Appointment of Parish Representatives
When there is a vacancy in a benefice, the Designated Officer of the Diocese (in Norwich, the Diocesan Secretary) serves notice of the vacancy in Form 31 on the relevant Parochial Church Councils. The PCC’s then hold a meeting to consider various resolutions, and then serve notice in Form 34 on the Bishop, the Patron, and the Designated Officer, giving details of the resolutions passed at the meeting. PCC’s should also attach to the Form a statement prepared by the PCC describing the conditions, needs and traditions of the Parish. The Form also records any previous Resolutions A or B made by the PCC under the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993. Each PCC within in the benefice should complete its own Form 34, even if the PCC’s have held a joint meeting and made joint resolutions.

Form 35   Bishop or Patron’s Request for Section 12 Meeting
Within 10 days of receiving the Form 34 and any accompanying parish statement, the Bishop or the Patron may use this Form to give notice to the PCC(s) that they wish to have a meeting to discuss the contents of the statement. The meeting should be held within six weeks, and the PCC Secretary or Secretaries must give at least 14 days notice of the meeting to all entitled to attend, unless all agree to the meeting being held at shorter notice.

Form 36   Approval by Bishop of Offer of Benefice
When a priest is willing to accept an offer to fill the vacancy, the Patron must seek the Bishop’s approval of the making of the offer by completing the first part of the Form and then sending it to the Bishop for his approval or otherwise to be endorsed on the second part of the Form. The Form is then returned to the Patron.

Form 37   Approval by Parish Representatives of Offer of Benefice
When a priest is willing to accept an offer to fill the vacancy, the Patron must also seek the approval of the parish representatives to the making of the offer by completing the first part of Form 37 and then sending it to the Parish Representatives for their approval or otherwise to be endorsed on the second part of the Form. The Form is then returned to the Patron. If the parish representatives do not return the Form within two weeks, their approval is deemed to have been given.

Form 38   Patron’s Notice of Presentation
When the Patron has received both the Bishop’s approval and the parish representatives’ approval, the Patron should complete Form 38 and send it to the Bishop, who will then make arrangements for the institution of the new incumbent.

Notice of Lapse
Since 1 July 2018, by virtue of section 12 of the Mission and Pastoral etc. (Amendment) Measure 2018, where no notice of Presentation has been received by the Bishop within 12 months of the date when the vacancy arose, the right to present a new incumbent lapses to the Diocesan Bishop.

During a vacancy, the Churchwardens and Rural Dean will have additional responsibilities as sequestrators of the benefice.