New Registrar provides legal and advice and support for churches

A NEW Registrar of the Diocese has been appointed to provide legal advice and support for more than 600 parishes in the Diocese of Oxford.

Darren Oliver pictured at Oxford’s Christ Church Cathedral.

Oxford-based solicitor, Darren Oliver, formerly Deputy Registrar, is now Registrar, acting alongside the Revd Canon John Rees, advising parishes and church officers on the variety of legal matters which arise from time to time in parish life.

The Diocesan Registry services are provided by Winckworth Sherwood Solicitors, in which Darren is a Senior Associate and John is the Senior Partner. Darren is a property and charity lawyer and has had general oversight of the faculty jurisdiction in the diocese for some time (a faculty is the legal permission necessary to carry out repairs and modernisation projects in our historic buildings). He also works with Cordelia Hall, a schools and charity lawyer, who is a Deputy Registrar, and Sara Leader and Helen Lambourne, the Diocesan Registry Clerks. Sara advises on marriage matters, clergy licensing, patronage and vacancies as well as a wide remit of other general enquiries, while Helen facilitates the faculty process and churchyard enquiries.

The Registrar is the Bishop of Oxford’s legal advisor as well as registrar of the diocesan synod – the governing council of the diocese. The role also involves being clerk to the Oxford consistory court – the court that makes decisions on issues including the granting of faculties for the use of/works to churches and churchyards.

The diocesan registry also gives general advice to hundreds of churchwardens, clergy and PCC members about their various roles and duties.

Darren says: “I feel very honoured that Bishop Steven has appointed me as Registrar of the Diocese to act alongside John Rees, who has been serving in that capacity for a good number of years. I have been working closely with him during the last decade.

Much of the work of the Church of England at every level is governed by law. Ecclesiastical law is part of the law of the land, governing our Church ‘as by law established’; but our purpose has always been to use the law essentially as an important framework to support and enable the mission of the Church, and to ensure that our ministers, buildings and processes are there for all who live in our parishes and need their ministry.

It is a great privilege to be able to guide clergy and church officers in the diocese of Oxford through that legal framework as they continue to serve the hundreds of parishes throughout the three counties”