The Venerable Irene Cowell
Archdeacon of Man
Archdeacon’s Personal Secretary
Office Opening Hours
The Archdeacon’s office will be open on three days a week on Tuesday, Thursdays and Fridays between 9.30am and 2.00pm.
The Role of the Archdeacon of Man
The office of Archdeacon of Man has a long history in the Manx Church. There was an Archdeacon of Man before the 13th century, but the first one whose name is recorded is Laurance, who served before 1248 and was elected bishop.
Chiefly through an accident of history whereby the Bishop of Sodor and Man was his own Dean, and the lack of a suffragan Bishop, the Archdeacon is “second in dignity only to the Bishop of Sodor and Man” (according to Wikipedia, so it must be true!) – indeed, into the 20th century, the Archdeacon sat in the Manx Government, Tynwald, with a seat and a vote on the Legislative Council, the Upper Chamber, alongside the Bishop.
Even today the Archdeacon exercises a ministry well beyond the church, ranging from e.g. dedicating War Memorials to attending Isle of Man National Team football matches and is honoured to have access to all levels of government in Douglas and the Isle of Man.
As Archdeacon the role includes routine inspections of parishes, their buildings, finances, registers etc. (the Archdeacon’s Visitations) and working closely with the diocese’s two senior lawyers, the Vicar General, Sodor and Man’s equivalent of an English diocese’s Chancellor and the Diocesan Registrar to ensure that Manx Church Law is faithfully complied with.
First and foremost the Archdeacon works very closely with the Lord Bishop of Sodor and Man in enabling the Church of England on the Isle of Man to find out what God is doing and join in: to enable the local congregation to engage in the mission of God and to offer relevant and engaging worship.
The Archdeacon, like the bishop, plays a key part in ecumenical relations, and sits on the Board of Churches Alive in Mann (CAIM) and is a welcome guest in churches of other denominations as well as the Church of England.
Historical Footnote: what is an archdeacon?
Archdeacons are the only Anglican clergy not to be referred to as “The Reverend” or a variation of it, having the style “The Venerable” which may be abbreviated to “Ven”.
Archdeacons in the Church of England have been senior priests since 1662 although in the primitive church they really were the senior deacon. A Church Council held at Windsor in 1070 ordered “that bishops should appoint archdeacons in their churches” and since then the primary unit of administration in a diocese has been the archdeaconry, the area for which an archdeacon is responsible. In all other dioceses of the Church of England there are at least two archdeaconries in each, but in Sodor and Man there is just the one, bearing the ancient title of “Man” to distinguish it from the Suðreyjar (Sudreys or “southern isles” i.e. the Western Isles off the coast of Scotland).
The word archdeacon comes from two Greek words, archos meaning chief and diakonos meaning servant and reminds us that in the Christian church leadership is service and authority is given to slaves: “So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’” (Mark 10:42 – 45).