History and Constitution
The islands of the Bailiwick were subject to Roman rule and it is most likely that Christianity became established to some degree by the middle of the fifth century. From that time the islands were within the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Coutances. Circa 530, St. Sampson established a monastic diocese at Dol and was given authority by the King of France to minister in these islands. Papal Bulls in 1496 and 1500 purported to transfer the Islands from Coutances respectively to Salisbury and Winchester. However the islands remained in the Diocese of Coutances until 1568 when they were annexed to the Diocese of Winchester.
The islands remain legally under the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Winchester but on the 25th March 2014 the Bishop of Winchester delegated to the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott the episcopal oversight and functions reserved or assigned to him in all ecclesiastical legislation, canons, customs and protocols as apply in the Deanery of Guernsey (and confirmed this by a further instrument, dated 1 June 2019, which was issued on Bishop Willmott's retirement from the See of Dover). Bishop Willmott exercises the episcopal functions delegated to him in canonical obedience to the Archbishop of Canterbury and all clergy in the Deanery owe canonical obedience to the Archbishop.
The Church of England is the Established Church in Guernsey, Alderney and Sark.
Until 1931 the churches in the Bailiwicks of Guernsey and Jersey were not directly represented in the national church institutions. The Channel Islands (Representation) Measure, 1931 provided that each of the Bailiwicks be entitled to send representatives to both the Church Assembly and the Winchester Diocesan Conference. Those two bodies became, respectively, the General Synod and the Winchester Diocesan Synod in 1970 by virtue of the Synodical Government (Channel Islands) Order, 1970. Since the 2014 transfer of episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Winchester to the Bishop of Dover, Guernsey has not sent any delegates to the Winchester Diocesan Synod. They attended meetings of the Canterbury Diocesan Synod in a non-voting capacity until 2019. In future, they will attend meetings of Salisbury Diocesan Synod.
The 1970 Order also provided for the creation of the Guernsey Deanery Synod. There are no parochial church councils in Guernsey; authority at parochial level rests with the incumbent and the churchwardens. Most parishes do, however, have a church advisory committee.
The Dean of Guernsey
The Very Reverend Tim Barker has been the Dean of Guernsey since November 2015. He is the senior Anglican priest in the Bailiwick of Guernsey, and has responsibility for leading and supporting the mission and ministry of our parishes. Tim was previously Archdeacon of Lincoln. He is a Canon of Winchester Cathedral and a member of the Church of England's General Synod.
Tim is assisted by the Reverend Penny Graysmith and the Reverend John Moore, the Vice Deans.
The Dean's portfolio of responsibilities includes safeguarding, church buildings, the Ecclesiastical Court, vacancies, finance, Alderney and Sark. The Revd Penny Graysmith has responsibility for ministry development review; encouragement of reflective practice; promotion of the value and importance of chaplaincy; and pastoral support for clergy. Fr John Moore has responsibility for the pastoral care of clergy; liaison with the Chapter Clerk and chairing clergy Chapter meetings; and vocations to authorised lay ministry and ordained ministry.
Episcopal care for the parishes in the Bailiwick of Guernsey is provided by the Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, exercising his ministry as an assistant bishop in the Diocese of Winchester.
The Archbishop of Canterbury's Commission on the Relationship of the Channel Islands to the wider Church of England, chaired by the Rt Revd and Rt Hon the Lord Chartres of Wilton GCVO, reported in October 2019 on the future relationship of the Channel Islands with the Church of England and our episcopal care. Click here to see the Commission’s report. In February 2020 the General Synod approved the transfer of episcopal jurisdiction from the Diocese of Winchester to the Diocese of Salisbury. The Channel Islands Measure 2020 received Royal Assent in July 2020. Further legislation, to enact the transfer of jurisdiction in the Channel islands, is being prepared, and will be considered by the States of Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney and the Chief Pleas of Sark.