The clergy support charity Sons & Friends of the Clergy has for the first time in its 364-year history gone outside its existing trustee body to appoint a chair of trustees, known under the charity’s 1678 Royal Charter as ‘Senior Treasurer’. At the charity’s AGM on Thursday 8 November, Revd Canon Simon Butler was elected Senior Treasurer and chair of the board by the charity’s governors.
Simon Butler has a particular interest in clergy wellbeing, leading several debates on this issue in General Synod. In 2017 he was asked by General Synod to chair a working group which produced a consultation paper in October 2018 on a possible ‘covenant for clergy care and wellbeing’.
Canon Butler’s appointment comes at a key time for Sons & Friends, as it looks to modernise its governance and strategy. In November 2017 the charity’s objects, enshrined in the Royal Charter, were amended by an Order in Council approved by Her Majesty The Queen. The new objects mean that the charity is able to work for the ‘promotion of health’ among the Anglican clergy and their families, as well as its previous objects of poverty alleviation and the relief of illness, whether physical or mental.
Commenting on his appointment as chair, Canon Simon Butler said:
‘I feel honoured to be asked to become chair of Sons & Friends of the Clergy. The wellbeing and welfare of Anglican clergy and their nearest and dearest are live and crucial issues, as we face all that makes for change in the mission-shaped 21st century Church. I am looking forward to playing my part alongside a strong staff and trustee team in shaping the future of this historic charity as it takes the new opportunities afforded it by the recent change in its Royal Charter, alongside its historic and ongoing commitment to supporting clergy and their dependants in challenging circumstances .’
Canon Butler has been elected for an initial three-year term and replaces the Right Revd David Rossdale, former Bishop of Grimsby, who has retired from the Court of Assistants after ten years on the board.
Responding to Canon Butler’s appointment, retiring chair The Right Revd David Rossdale said:
‘It is such good news that Simon is to take on the role of Senior Treasurer of the charity. He brings a wealth of experience, along with many insights into the needs of clergy and their dependants. We have done much over the past few years to ensure the charity is positioned to support our beneficiaries in the challenges which they face in today’s church. I feel confident that Simon will find that he is working with an effective group of trustees and staff.’
In addition to Simon Butler’s appointment as chair, the charity’s AGM elected the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of London as honorary Presidents, alongside the Archbishop of Canterbury who was elected to the position in November 2017. HM The Queen remains the charity’s Royal Patron.