Register of Ministers?

I’ve received the most curious form that the bishop expects me to fill in. The letter accompanying it seems to suggest that I must fill it in in order to comply with the Data Protection Act. However, I’m sure that cannot be true – I think it must be seeking to make the diocese compliant with legislation, which is another thing altogether. It is a form asking the most intrusive questions and asking me to give permission to the diocese to use anything on the form in any way it likes. It is asking me to make an entry in the Scottish Episcopal Church Register of Ministers, which I cannot find alluded to in Canon Law. It is, by the way, discriminatory in that it does not give the possibility to indicate Civil Partnership status, though that is not really the point I’m seeking to make.

I’m puzzled by this. It hasn’t been discussed at the Bishop’s Staff Group, nor in Diocesan Council. I’ve no recollection of it in General Synod. The Organizational Review Committee certainly did not see it and the Synod Review Group was not discussing those things. The Information and Communications Board, which presumably has a remit in the area of Data Protection also has not discussed it. It isn’t the form asking me to give permission for my contact details to be used to make up the clergy directory.

I’ve no idea why this information is being sought or by whom or what level of confidentiality applies to any answers I give. It is being sought by an organization which persists in refusing to recognise that it employs me.

All very odd.

However, I’ve been able to fill it in as asked. At the top it tells you to leave blank any sections that seem inappropriate.

Long blank form going back. Signed and dated.


  1. Elizabeth says

    How bizarre! Sounds like the complete opposite of Data Protection!

    Sounds like you took appropriate action.

    However, on a positive note, if, under the Freedom of Informtation Act, you desire to obtain all the information held about you, it will be as easy for them to answer your request, as it was for you to answer their’s.

  2. Kennedy says

    I’m pretty sure that FoI doesn’t apply to the SEC – it not being a public body and all.

    If it did then I could envisage some interesting requests.


  3. Colin says

    I’d be very concerned about this, as it seems to be an example of the very worst practice. If personal information is to be held about you, the data controller (the church) must have a purpose for doing so, and tell you what that is. This is called a fair processing notice, and they don’t seem to have done that here. If you provide the data, you may have very little control over what is done with it, as no purposes have been stated. Just to refer to the previous points made, churches are not subject to FOI, but you do have a right under the DPA to the information held about you. I’m sorry to go on and on about this, but FOI and DP are my work area, and I think it’s important that people should be aware of their rights. The UK Information Commissioner is responsible for data protection, and I’d recommend looking at the website and consider phoning the helpline.

  4. kelvin says

    Many thanks for the comments above.

    I’ve decided not to return the form at all.

    The website listed above is very helpful. The helpline was less so.

    The problem with the form is that is asks for personal details (health, occupation, hobbies and interests, in some cases for spouse as well as clergy person) and then asks people to sign to say that they are “happy for the Diocese to use the form for any purpose in connection with my ministry in the Scottish Episcopal Church or the administration of Church affairs.”

    I gather that this is intended to be a way to become more compliant and to ensure that the only information that is held is that which people are happy to provide. However, this does not seem to have been done properly at all.

  5. I was going to echo Colins comment but to a lesser extent since I didn’t know about the ICO, but I was aware about the church having to have a reason to hold information about you. Unless they state an intention and purpose for the information requested apart from that excuse of asking you that you are “happy for the Diocese to use the form for any purpose in connection with my ministry in the Scottish Episcopal Church or the administration of Church affairs.” then don’t do anything.

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