Anglican Diocese of Wellington
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Pastoral Letter on the Covenant Agreement and the Licence

1 Covenant Agreement

For a number of years now those ordained and holding a Bishop's Licence in this Diocese have entered into a Covenant Agreement as a precondition to being licensed.

This Covenant is a three-way agreement between the person holding the Licence, the Bishop and for Vicars and Priest-in-Charge, the Parish. The Bishop is represented by the Archdeacon of the area and the Parish by the Church Wardens. In the case of Priests and Deacons in associate or assistant roles the Agreement they enter into is with [1] the Bishop and [2] the Vicar/Priest-in-Charge and Parish.

In the case of a Parish practicing Mutual Ministry the Priest and Deacon are bound by the collective 'Declaration of Acknowledgment' as members of the Support Team as well as having individual Covenant Agreements with the Bishop, the Ministry Enabler and the Parish.

The genesis of the Covenant Agreement came out of the then less-than-satisfactory nature of the 'letter of offer' format used across the Province and also, in response to the High Court ruling that Clergy are not under contract to the Church. We developed the Covenant Agreement to set out clearly

[1] that the position is in accordance with the Canons, Statutes and Regulations of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia,

[2] that there are certain responsibilities and obligations of each party and

[3] what the stipend and expense details are if part of the office. This particular kind of Agreement is unique to the Diocese of Wellington.

While we believe all Vicars and Priests-in-Charge have Covenant Agreements it could well be that some Associate and Assistant Priests and Deacons are operating with an Agreement that may require updating if the Vicar or Priest-in-Charge succeeded the one who signed the Agreement. We would ask Church Wardens to kindly check with Clergy on all Covenant Agreements to see that they are current and relevant.

A Covenant Agreement has a life of five years and then an Appreciative Inquiry is to take place. Should a person find they are approaching the five year mark kindly arrange with the Archdeacon for Mission to undertake one. The agreement is then re-affirmed or altered accordingly.

In reviewing the standard forms of Covenant in use we note under the heading 'The Vicar and Church Wardens joint responsibility'  the footnote to clause 3 is unnecessary because the Wardens and or the Clergy have a responsibility to keep the Bishop informed. Therefore delete or cross out the footnote.


2 Licence

Implicit in the Licence an ordained person holds is the responsibility to exercise Ministry as it is signified.

Under Authority

As well as entering into a Covenant Agreement a person being licensed also signs the Declaration and Adherence to the Canons, Statutes and Regulations of the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia and in so doing, comes under the authority of the Bishop of the Diocese and the Church of the Province. This means an acceptance of certain responsibilities that can only be entered into with a deep sense of commitment and calling.

Locality and Role

The locality and role are set out clearly and the expectation of the Bishop is that Clergy will adhere to both. From time to time Clergy may be invited to participate in an act of worship in another Parish or area of responsibility and in such cases the incumbent or in the absence of an incumbent, the Archdeacon, should either agree or invite the person. It is inappropriate to undertake a Ministry without the knowledge of Vicar or Priest-in-Charge or Mutual Ministry Support Team responsible for the Parish.

Roles of Priest and Lay Celebrants

It has been have mentioned in another Pastoral Letter that only a Priest and not a Lay or Civil Celebrant is permitted to conduct the Service of Holy Matrimony in an Anglican Church. Nor do we see a Priest being a Lay or Civil Celebrant as well. In being ordained as a Priest a conscious move is made from civilian life to that in Holy Orders. It is therefore inappropriate for an ordained person to hold a Celebrant's role that is not included in the Canons of the Church.

Beyond the Diocese of Wellington

Where a Priest or Deacon is approached to preside at a Eucharist, Baptism, Marriage or Funeral in another Diocese or Hui Amorangi, it is necessary to have the permission of the Bishop of that Jurisdiction.

Licences in Mutual Ministry Support Teams

Clergy who are part of a Mutual Ministry Support Team have Licenses limited to their Parish. Only under special circumstances and with the approval of the Bishop through the Archdeacon can a Deacon or Priest offer Ministry outside the boundary of their Parish.


We greatly value the servant leadership of the Clergy who together provide the Diocese with a strong and effective Diaconal and Priestly Ministry Team. It is expected that across the Diocese, Clergy will be prayed for each week and the monthly Prayer Cycle should be used for this purpose.



Bishop of Wellington


No reira waiho ko te aroha o Te Matua Kaha Rawa hei korowai mou.
May the love of Almighty God enfold you!