Executive Recruitment

The Diocese of Guildford and its setting

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The Diocese of Guildford covers the western two-thirds of Surrey and a significant area of north-east Hampshire. It also includes one parish in a London borough and one in rural West Sussex. In the north-east, it is largely suburban, but moving south and west, there are a number of distinct towns and numerous villages. The south-west has a more rural feel to it, but the north-east is largely suburban. The population here is greater with excellent road and rail links, particularly to London, meaning that there is much commuting within these areas.

The population is just over a million, rising in line with the national rate. The average population density is above average, both regionally and nationally.

The area is rightly perceived as affluent, hiding a number of local key issues. The population is quite mobile, but the cost of housing is very high and there are issues of homelessness in the towns. (There are surprisingly high levels of domestic and sexual abuse).  The government wants a significant number of new homes to be built in the area, but there is much lively debate about where they might go.

Taken as a whole, the Diocese has the lowest average IMD (Index of Multiple Deprivation) in England, but the picture is not uniform. Throughout the area there are tight pockets of deprivation, enclosed within housing estates, or even within a few streets.  These pockets have high levels of child poverty, low income, poor mental health and other significant problems. Often they are adjacent to affluent areas that camouflage the extent of need, driving down the statistics and diverting public funds to areas of more widespread poverty in other parts of the country.

The Diocese is becoming more diverse ethnically, and there are notable Asian populations in Woking and Camberley. There has also been a large influx of Nepalese to Aldershot and Farnborough following recent Government changes to Gurkha pension provision. In 15% of parishes, the proportion of White British inhabitants is now less than 80%.

Principal occupations include Wholesale/Retail Trade, Professional & Scientific, Education, Human Health & Social Work, with significant numbers also in Information & Communication Technology and Finance. There are also a large number of military personnel (and their families) in several areas of the Diocese; Aldershot is the ‘Home of the British Army’ and the tri-service lies within the Diocese. The University of Surrey and College of Law are based in Guildford, together with the Surrey Research Park. The University of the Creative Arts is based around Farnham, and Royal Holloway (University of London) is in Egham. There are also four major hospitals and four prisons. A significant number of key national decision makers live within diocesan borders. 

The Church in the Community 

The Diocese has two archdeaconries, each with six deaneries, and a total of 160 parishes. There are very few multi-parish benefices with just one stipendiary priest.

A great deal of the work of the church is done at a local level by the parishes. The diocesan teams support and encourage the work of the parishes, and also work with wider networks to the mutual benefit of the church and society at local, regional and national levels.

The Diocese includes churches representing all shades of Anglicanism. All traditions play their full part in the life of the diocese, and broadly speaking there is an encouraging absence of tribalism.

We are fortunate to have some 300 licensed clergy. Nearly two thirds of these are stipendiary, of whom over 90% are full-time. About a third of all licensed clergy are women, including our Suffragan Bishop and the Dean of the Cathedral, with a higher proportion amongst Self Supporting Ministers. There is a significant number of clergy couples, ministering in various ways.

With more than 200 clergy and investment houses, 217 church buildings and many parish-owned halls and facilities, our property portfolio provides an essential asset for our mission and ministry across this area, whilst also supporting multiple community activities, clubs and meetings.

The proportion of the population attending church, both adults and young people is above the national average, but overall numbers have dropped, albeit slightly more slowly than the national average. With a changing population, ministry to new parishioners is a significant task. Church communities vary in size, but about half have an average adult weekly attendance of over 100.

Parish clergy, authorised lay ministers and other lay members, including chaplains, are not only engaged with church schools across the diocese, but also with over 250 county and independent schools. Many of the latter have church foundations.

Many parishes are involved with their local communities, not just by way of occasional offices, prayer and financial support, but in active engagement through projects such as CAP (Christians Against Poverty) Centres, Street Angels/Pastors, food banks, furniture recycling to needy families, chaplains to GP surgeries, Night Shelters and Credit Unions.


Our work with the 83 Church of England schools is at the heart of the mission of the Diocese and is central to our ambition to ‘Transforming Church, Transforming Lives’.

Through the work of the Diocesan Board of Education, our aim is to improve the education of 22,000 children who attend our Church schools, to develop and enhance the schools’ Christian character and to build closer links between our churches and our schools as part of serving our parishes and local communities.

The majority of our Church schools are in the primary phase and we have three secondary schools which have chaplaincies which support their work with students exploring and encouraging their Christian faith.

We have a growing number of Church schools in the academy sector and these schools have joined multi-academy trusts (MATs) who have governance structures that protect and maintain the Christian character of the schools. Going forward, it is likely that all our Church schools will join a MAT by 2030.

Every Diocese has a Diocesan Board of Education which is defined in the Diocesan Board of Education Measure (2021).

The Diocesan Board of Education (DBE) provides strategic leadership and oversight and report directly to Diocesan Synod. The DBE will be a statutory sub-committee of the Diocesan Board of Finance from November 2022 and is responsible for the following statutory functions:

• Promoting education consistent with the faith and practice of the Church of England

• Promoting religious education and worship in church schools

• Advising governors and trustees of church educational endowments on matters concerning church schools and also identifying those circumstances where church schools must consult or obtain the consent of the DBE.

Alongside the engagement of our churches and schools, the Diocese has entered into partnership with local authorities through its Community Engagement Team (shortly to be incorporated into the Mission team), which currently operate in areas of Family Support, Health and Wellbeing, Restorative Justice and Surrey Faith Links. The Church House Review recommends that such

partnerships should continue, provided they are genuinely self-funding and better integrated into the community engagement of the local church.

Transforming Church, Transforming Lives  

Transforming Church, Transforming Lives is the vision of the Diocese of Guildford, launched in September 2016 following a long period of prayer and consultation. It envisages individuals and church communities open to the transforming work of God’s Spirit in their own lives, and so becoming agents of Christ’s transformation to the world around them.

Following the pandemic, we have spent more time in prayer and consultation, and developed our vision further – from 12 goals to three themes:

  • Growing Disciples
  • Growing Diversity
  • Growing Community 

Transforming Church, Transforming Lives is a framework not a blueprint. It brings together all our parishes, schools and chaplaincies under the same focus and vision.

The way we deliver this vision, for our parishes, is through the Parish Needs Process – a collaborative and supportive approach which listens and supports each parish to create their own Church Development Plan, and draws together all the resources they may need to achieve their goals.

To support our churches as they engage with these themes, our Church House Team has developed new strategic thinking in the areas of evangelism and discipleship, children and young people, church planting (or ‘mixed ecology’), church vocations, racial justice, community engagement, the church in the digital age, and our aspiration to be Zero Net Carbon by 2030. These strategies all link into and underpin the three parts of our vision.

Further Reading