Brand new Mediation service is launched for Church musicians

Brand new Mediation service is launched for Church musicians

Organists, choir members and other parish musicians who may be involved in disputes now have access to a brand new mediation service, it is announced by the Guild of Church Musicians (GCM).

This is believed to be the first time any UK church music organisation has formally offered a mediation service.

The move has been prompted by both the lack of any formal arrangements for mediation for parish musicians and the increase in the number of disputes in recent years.

Today’s news results from revised legal guidance from General Synod published in 2018.   Most paid parish musicians are employees and, as a result, have the right to go to an employment tribunal in the event of a dispute.

Dame Mary Archer

Dame Mary Archer pictured above hopes that the new mediation service will prove to be valuable when issues arise over music-related matters in churches.

Commenting on the new service, the GCM’s president, Dame Mary Archer, said: ‘I hope that the new service will prove to be valuable when issues arise over music and music-related matters in churches, especially if relationships break down or if one party or another takes a fixed position.’

The GCM’s mediation team is willing to look at any case, not just those heading for an employment tribunal.  The Guild hopes that, by using mediation at an early stage, issues will be resolved more swiftly than by going through litigation.

Members of the GCM’s team of mediators are:

  • The Right Reverend Graeme Knowles, who can draw on a lifetime of experience in ecclesiastical musical matters.  He was formerly the Precentor of Portsmouth Cathedral, Archdeacon of Portsmouth, Dean of Carlisle Cathedral and then St Paul’s Cathedral, and Bishop of Sodor & Man.
  • Lindsay Gray, an organist, choir trainer and singer, who served for 14 years as headmaster of Llandaff Cathedral Choir School, before becoming Director of the Royal School of Church Music.  He can draw on his wide experience of mediation, both as a choir school head and, more recently, in cathedrals and major parish churches;
  • Barry Williams, a retired lawyer with experience of mediation in Chancery matters as well as church music.  He co-authored the book Everything else an organist should know which contains a chapter specifically devoted to the resolution of disputes;
  • Nicola Parslow who has also undertaken complex Chancery mediation and can draw on her experience of sitting on tribunals in ecclesiastical matters.

No charge is made by the GCM for mediation, but it is expected that users of the service will meet the mediators’ reasonable expenses.

Anyone wishing to make use of the new service is asked to contact the GCM's Registrar, June Williams, telephone 0208 395 7949.   Answers to frequently asked questions are on the website’s Help and Advice page at  https://gcm.org.uk/

The GCM was formed in 1888 and exists to encourage musicians within all denominations of the church to attain the highest standards of music in the worship of Almighty God.  Membership is open to anyone interested in church music.  While the majority of members live in the UK, the Guild has members living in all parts of the world.