As of 1 August 2016, the Online Faculty System (OFS) was made available for parishes to use, which they were strongly encouraged to do (including for recording List A items). Since 1 January 2017, using the system has been required for submitting a Faculty or List B request. This has made it easier for parishes to develop and put forward new proposals for works in their church buildings, especially in regards to the changes brought about by the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015:
- “List A” matters may be undertaken by an authorised person (i.e. a member of the PCC or someone else acting on the PCC’s behalf) without a faculty and without the need for consultation, subject to any conditions specified in the Rules.
- “List B” matters may be undertaken by an authorised person without a faculty if the Archdeacon has been consulted on the proposal and has given notice in writing that it may be undertaken without a faculty but subject to any conditions specified in the Rules and/or imposed by the Archdeacon (who must consult the DAC before deciding whether to give notice of consent).
- The full Rules can be found on the ChurchCare webpages, although the online system should indicate to applicants whether their application is a List A item, a List B item, or requires a full faculty. Please also view our booklet on List A and List B.
A full faculty requires formal feedback (often preceded by informal consultation) from the Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC), and then the granting of the faculty from the Chancellor – this can all be done through the OFS.
PCCs must nominate a member to act as their Registered Applicant to register with the OFS system and deal directly with the DAC. That applicant should register on the OFS website using this guide (also available on the ‘User Manuals’ page under the ‘Help’ tab on the OFS website) if they need assistance.
- Applicants should remember to select both the Diocese of Southwark and at least one church or the churches for which their PCC has authorised them to make applications.
- We would encourage applicants to register with a generic e-mail address if possible (eg. ChurchWarden@StStephen), in order for their successors to be able to use the account, rather than a new one having to be made for every change in post. It is recommended to have two users per church registered as applicants.
- Applicants should be aware that applications on the OFS are logged by church and not by applicant. Consequently, the dashboard will show all the applications made against the church and not just the ones that they have created. If they see an application that they do not recognise, it may be that a local authority with responsibility for maintaining a closed churchyard has also made an application. Equally, if they are a local authority applicant, they will see applications that the PCC has made. Therefore, they should not abandon cases they do not recognise without first checking with the DAC Secretary.
When registered, applicants can make an application by going to the ‘Applications’ tab of the OFS website, then clicking ‘Start Application’.
They should fill in the required fields and follow the on-screen instructions, which give the option to choose whether the proposal is a List A matter, a List B matter, or a requires a full faculty. If necessary, in the ‘User Manuals’ section of the ‘Help’ tab on the OFS website there is a guide for submitting a List A matter, a guide for submitting a List B matter, and a guide on how to start a faculty application.
Next, the applicant should upload all their supporting documents and images. Again, if this presents any difficulty there is a user manual on how to attach supporting documents and images.
Once finished, the registered applicant should submit their proposal; if it is a List B matter, it will go to the Archdeacon to be approved, and if it is an application for a faculty it will go to the DAC for consultation (as it did before the introduction of the OFS).
If you encounter any problems or difficulties in this process you can find a list of frequently asked questions and a complete guide to the Online Faculty System on the ‘Help’ tab of the OFS website, or contact the DAC team at Trinity House, and speak to Luke Tatam.
Why the Online Faculty System?
The OFS is part of the Church of England’s ongoing ‘Faculty Simplification’ initiative. In 2012, the Archbishops’ Council Faculty Simplification Group appointed a working party to make recommendations for updating and streamlining the faculty system.
The working party consulted widely with parishes and Dioceses, providing the basis for practical proposals to speed up and simplify the process for those who operate the faculty system. This included the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2013, which began to simplify and modernise the application procedures, and which were followed subsequently by the Faculty Jurisdiction Rules 2015 establishing Lists A and B.
The Online Faculty System was also a part of this initiative. It was considered important for parishes, DACs, Registrars, Chancellors and Archdeacons to access the information about any one proposal quickly and easily. Following a trial period in the Dioceses of Truro and Leicester, the system began a national rollout in February 2015, with the Diocese of Southwark adopting it on 1 August 2016, and requiring it to be used from 1 January 2017.