Chaplain to the Bishop of Gloucester
What is Permission to Officiate?
Permission to officiate is given to clergy at various stages in life and ministry, and is generally flexible in nature. Where ministry is being sought in a particular place for an extended time, such as Associate Priest in a particular parish, licensed ministry is usually more appropriate. The first step should be to contact David Gardiner, the Bishop’s Chaplain (see details on the right), who will send you an application form.
How long does the application process take?
The granting of Permission to officiate usually takes about two months from the time when the Bishop’s office receives the application form, and is not normally granted until six months after retirement. Of course, when there are new Disclosure and Barring Service (formerly Criminal Records Bureau) checks to be done, this can extend the process. As part of the application process, you will also be asked to meet with the Bishop of Tewkesbury.
Safeguarding and Ministry
All ministries in the Church of England are in service of God’s people, including children and vulnerable adults. So that all may encounter God and worship in safety and confidence, all those applying for Permission to Officiate are required to attend regular diocesan safeguarding training and updates. As part of the process it would be helpful to know when and where you last attended training. The HR and Safeguarding team will follow up with you about when you will next need to be booked on to a training or refresher workshop.
Attendance records will be kept on an individual personnel record and PTO will be withdrawn if:
- an individual has not attended training within 6 months of PTO being granted,
- refresher training is repeatedly missed,
- attitudes to Safeguarding in training sessions or ministry is found wanting.
It should be noted that Permission to Officiate is not given indefinitely. For the purposes of our constant striving to ensure churches are places of safety for all who use them, the duration of the Bishop’s Permission is tied to the time left on a DBS check and also relies on the upkeep of Safeguarding training. When these need to be re-done, the Safeguarding Officer will be in touch to either book you on training or to renew PTO and DBS. If they coincide, your PTO will not be renewed until after you have attended Safeguarding training. An update meeting with the Bishop of Tewkesbury may be considered useful at this point as well.
Remember: all Permissions to Officiate and licences are legally valid only if DBS checks and Safeguarding training are in place. It is hoped this formal stating of an expiry date on your PTO certificate will make it simpler for everyone involved to keep on top of these important matters.
LIFE in all its fullness
The Diocese of Gloucester is committed to sharing the transforming gospel of Jesus Christ, so that people may know life in all its fullness (cf John 10:10) and will do this with Leadership, Imagination, Faith, and Engagement. Those granted Permission to Officiate in the Diocese of Gloucester are expected to support and enable this vision for mission and ministry within the Diocese.
Every ministry is unique
There is also a vocational aspect to your application, taking account of the varied gifts and abilities of our clergy with Permission to Officiate. A section of the form therefore asks whether you would be willing to consider a wider deployment than many PTO clergy have enjoyed in the past, willingness to travel to other benefices and deaneries (and how far), what sort of ministries you might be willing to explore, such as an interim role in a parish in vacancy, and what other skills and gifts you might be willing to offer the wider diocese.
Of course, if you are retired, it is extremely important to stress that your freedom to enjoy retirement comes first! We are also very aware that people are living out their ministry Sunday to Saturday in many different ways among the people and places of their week and that is to be celebrated. Equally, it is not always straightforward to match the ministries our clergy with Permission to Officiate are able to offer with the opportunities currently available. We do encourage you to continue praying and reflecting on where God may be calling you at this stage in your ministry.
If you would value a conversation to reflect on the next steps in your vocational journey, please feel able to contact your Area Dean, our Continuing Ministerial Development officer, Helen Sammon, or the Bishop’s Chaplain (contact information above).