THE Church of England in the Channel Islands is set to leave the Diocese of Winchester for good following a ‘dispute’.

In March 2014, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishop of Winchester, the Deans of Jersey and Guernsey and the Bishop of Dover signed an agreement to allow the latter to take interim oversight of the island parishes.

An Archbishop’s Commission was then instructed to look at the longer-term relationship of the islands and the wider Church of England.

This came after a breakdown in the relationship between the islands and the Bishop of Winchester, Right Reverend Tim Dakin.

Initially this was described as an ‘interim arrangement’ but the recent announcement is set to bring a formal end to the 500-year-old relationship between the Channel Islands and Winchester.

Mr Dakin said: “I’m most grateful to the members of the Archbishop’s Commission for their work and their recommendations.

“In particular, I welcome the proposal for the island deaneries to be given a fresh start.

“I remain committed to the flourishing of the churches in the Islands, and shall continue to pray for God’s richest blessing and his grace to be known in the islands and among their churches.”

Church leaders did not provide details on the nature of the breakdown.

The Archbishop’s Commission recommended that the Channel Islands should be overseen by the Diocese of Salisbury.

Should the proposals be approved, the attachment could take formal effect by autumn 2020.

The Bishop of Salisbury, Right Reverend Nicholas Holtam, said: “I warmly welcome the commission’s recommendations, particularly that episcopal oversight of the Islands be transferred to Salisbury.

“Together we will explore the opportunities this new relationship brings. I look forward to getting to know the people of the Channel Islands and when we agree the next steps will welcome them into our diocese.

“We will want a partnership in the Gospel that is good for all of us. A new chapter is opening in our shared life in Christ.”

Until arrangements are finalised, Bishop of Dover, Right Reverend Trevor Willmott, will continue interim oversight of the islands.

The Dean of Guernsey, Very Reverend Tim Barker, said he is “grateful” for the support of Mr Willmott.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, also welcomed the report and its recommendations. “I am grateful to all in the Channel Islands and further afield who have given of their time, energy and prayer during the consultation,” he said. “The aim of this Commission was to identify an environment in which the church and all who worship in the Islands can flourish together in Christ and within the wider life of the Church of England. I believe the recommendations of the report can allow for this to happen.”