The Society Today
Posted on the 27th Feb 2021 in the category Resources
The Society for the Maintenance of the Faith is currently the patron of 94 benefices. It is sole patron of 30 and joint patron of another 64.
Major changes in the exercise of patronage were made by General Synod in the 1980s. Where pastoral reorganization is under consideration, the bishop can suspend presentation to the benefice and appoint a priest in charge. If presentation is not suspended, the consent of two lay representatives chosen by the Parochial Church Council is required before for the patron can present a candidate to the bishop. In practice, SMF involves both the lay representatives and the bishop in the process of identifying candidates, and where presentation is suspended the bishop generally involves SMF in the choice of a priest in charge. Pastoral reorganization has resulted in a great increase in the number of multi-parish benefices with multiple patrons, and in many cases parishes with a catholic tradition have become part of a benefice that also includes parishes of very different traditions. As a result of these factors, it has often not been possible for SMF to maintain a catholic tradition in the parishes of which it is patron.
A resolution under the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests is in force in 25 of the SMF’s 94 benefices. Where no resolution is in force, appointments are open not only to male priests ordained by bishops in the historic succession but also to women and to men whose orders derive from the ordination of women to the episcopate.
The charity’s endowment enables it to make small grants to parishes within its patronage, usually for repairs or improvements to the fabric of the church. We can often provide independent advice to our parishes’ incumbents and churchwardens.
Most of the Society’s work is out of the wider public gaze. Its membership is accordingly small but is open to any who can subscribe to its aims. Applications need to be countersigned by a member of the Council. There is an Annual General Meeting, at which reports and accounts are received and officers and council members are elected.
This text draws on the article 'Keeping the Faith: A Brief Introduction to the SMF' by Fr William Davage, first published in the newspaper Together: The Voice of Catholic Anglicans.