It's all change for the Lichfield Diocesan Board of Finance* as we say goodbye to John Naylor as our chair and welcome David Wright as his successor.
In thanking John at last month's Diocesan Synod, Bishop Michael said:
"John was one of the first people I met when I came here as bishop and I knew immediately that I was talking to and indeed listening to somebody who inspired confidence in me, somebody with a very clear understanding of diocesan finances, somebody with a very clear understanding of the Church of England and I recognized also somebody with a very clear understanding of bishops for good or ill!
Over the seven years that I have had the pleasure of working with John I've always been thankful for a great combination of skills and qualities that he brings. He has on the one hand a very expansive view of our budget and of the financial challenges that we face, he is very well able to see the wood for the trees and I do recognize John what you said about encouraging joined up thinking in the diocese I think that's been a major contribution that you've brought. At the same time he is disconcertingly all over the detail, very disconcerting, and can pick up on what looks like the smallest thing which turns out to be of great significance and John is also extremely persuasive in a good way at bringing people along with him.
"And on a personal level I want to thank you very sincerely for your loyalty for your dependability for your good humor, your resilience and your persistence I hope that you will have more time now for Jenny and for music but I do want to just say this that despite your excellent financial management you have left us with one massive debt which is a heartfelt debt of gratitude to you."
In reflecting on his years with the DBF, John observed:
"My predecessor gave me a bit of advice: he said “well if I were you John, what I'd do is tell the bishops ‘you can have anything you want financially, the problem is you can't have everything you want.’ I did. Well I'm not sure whether +Michael was interviewing me when he first arrived or I was interviewing him but we had we had a robust discussion anyway.
"I'm not sure everybody realizes what a wonderful team we have at the centre of this diocese we have a wonderful leadership team we have got some super committees with very able chairman and hard-working committee members who look after all your interests. I have been very fortunate to have good had good relationships with the bishops - with Bishop Jonathan, his wise advice and Bishop Michael who's so supportive and so so perceptive.
And CEO, Canon Julie Jones added "John served the diocese for 11 years as our chair and did so with distinction using his gifts to contribute to many aspects of diocesan life. I was especially grateful for his support as we sought to respond to the pressures of the pandemic. We wish him and his wife Jenny well in this new phase of their retirement."
David Wright has been a member of diocesan synod for over ten years and also the lay chair of Leek Deanery for almost double that. He has a professional background in the motor trade with a national portfolio following regional roles in Stoke and Birmingham.
"For just over a year I have been thinking about if I should continue as lay chair of Leek Deanery. Having spent many a day asking God to show me what next, I was coming to the conclusion that it was time to move on with no clear way forward. Then this opportunity was brought to my attention.
"Having pray fully considered it I think it is right to put myself forward and see where it goes. In all honestly I don’t know if I would be good at it or not but I’ve learnt over the years that success in a role happens gradually for me.
"I firmly believe that within the Church of England and Lichfield Diocese, we are approaching a financial tipping point. The average age of our congregations, the buildings we have, along with the relevance of our Christian faith to a modern society where a large percentage of people generally puts self at its heart rather than selflessness has caused us to be where we currently are.
"I see that the DBF has grasped this issue and is working out how it can fund the vibrant, growing, spiritually-led church that we need within Lichfield diocese on a diminishing financial resource.
"I would hope to bring a fresh perspective to this even if it then turns out that what the DBF is planning to do, is the best solution. I try to think radically and back others who think radically. As everyone in business says 'if you do the same thing year after year, you get the same results year after year'. I think that asking respectfully 'why do we do this, this way' is part of the role.
"My years in the motor trade have shown me that there are many ways to tackle issues, some completely left field, other traditional. I have throughout my years in work never been afraid to ask the 'stupid question' as sometimes that needs to be asked to get the log-jam resolved.
"I think that part of this role is understand other people’s positions and to look for win –win outcomes wherever possible, but not forgetting that you can’t please all of the people, all of the time and sometimes there are losers.
"I aim to be a confidential sounding board, someone who listens to new ideas and strategies that the Finance department design, evaluates them and helps to shape and present them to Bishops Council and the diocese at large."
Bishop Michael in announcing the appointment said:
"I'm delighted to have David offer himself for the role of Chair of the DBF. It is not an easy time to take on a key financial role in the diocese, but having observed him at work in diocesan synod over the last seven years since I came to the diocese, I'm grateful for his offering of his talents and the expereince and wisdom that David brings."
In welcoming David, Julie said: "David is well known in the diocese as a member of synod and a lay chair. His appointment after an open recruitment process conducted by the Bishop will be ratified by the next synod. I have been very fortunate to have worked with two excellent chairs over the last 14 years. Both had their own distinctive individual gifts and I am now looking forward to forging a productive working relationship with David, using his gifts and insights as we seek to meet the many challenges we face as a Diocese.”
*The Lichfield Diocesan Board of Finance is the body that oversees all the services provided to Church of England parishes in Staffordshire, northern Shropshire and the Black Country.