Winchester Consistory Court; Clark Q.C. Ch., 24 December 1993
In response to a discussion paper entitled: "What does your church say?" distributed by the diocesan advisory committee, the parochial church council of St. James' church reflected upon how its worshipping congregation could express faith. It supported the petition, as did a high proportion of the worshipping congregation, brought by the incumbent, churchwarden and parish administrator for the re-ordering of the interior of the grade two listed church to provide the facilities for more informal services. The petition included proposals to remove the existing pews within the church and to replace them with freestanding chairs and to create a baptistry with the installation of a large font on the south side of the chancel arch. The chancellor, in granting the faculty conditionally upon undertakings given by the incumbent regarding disabled access, relied upon the test that, as well as any good and adequate reason for change being shown, any change sought by the proposals in the petition that adversely affected the character of the church would only be granted where the necessity for such change was proven. In relation to the proposals affecting the font and its replacement the chancellor bore in mind the House of Bishops Reponse to questions raised by diocesan chancellors dated June 1992 which established or confirmed that there was no liturgical difficulty about having a font positioned in the centre of a church or, alternatively, close to the altar. The position of a font could be determined by what view the worshipping congregation had with regard to baptism. The chancellor commented that it was unfortunate that the second edition of the standard textbook, Newsom's "Faculty Jurisdiction of the Church of England," published in 1993 did not incorporate reference to the Bishops' Response of June 1992 and that, accordingly, the section on "Fonts" on page 122 of that book needed careful reconsideration in the light of paragraphs 2.6.3,2.6.5 and 3.2 of the Response.
(1994) 3 Ecc LJ 258