Educated at Christ Church, Oxford, Stephen served as a solicitor in private practice (1979-84) before taking senior legal roles with the Charity Commission, first in Liverpool then in Taunton, between 1984 and 2001, when he came to Church House, Westminster.
In addition to his roles as Head of the Church of England Legal Office and Chief Legal Adviser to the Archbishops’ Council and the General Synod, Stephen is also the Commissioners’ Official Solicitor. He has overseen changes to Church legislation that opened the way for women bishops to be appointed to the episcopate (2014), the introduction of common tenure for clergy office holders (2011), and the Clergy Discipline Measure (2003).
William Nye, Secretary General to the Archbishops’ Council, said: “Everyone in the National Church Institutions will be sorry to learn of the departure of Stephen Slack next year, but also glad to wish him a happy retirement. Stephen has been a pillar of the Church in the 17 years that he has been the Church’s chief legal officer.
“Whether bewigged in General Synod, or at the House of Bishops or the Church Commissioners’ Board, or informally with colleagues in the Archbishops’ Council, Stephen has always been a source of counsel and good judgement that has gone beyond professional legal advice, and has encompassed real wisdom about the Church, its mission and its people. He will be very much missed.”
Andrew Brown, Chief Executive of the Church Commissioners, said: “Stephen Slack’s retirement will be a considerable loss for the Church Commissioners. He has fulfilled the role of Official Solicitor with great distinction, advising on a range of complex legal matters affecting the Commissioners and the wider church. He will be missed by Commissioners and staff alike and we wish him a healthy and fulfilled retirement.”
Commenting on his time at the Church of England, Stephen said: “It has been a great privilege, particularly through a period of such change, to help shape the contribution that the law makes to the life of the Church in so many different ways, and very rewarding to work for and alongside talented people committed to using their different gifts to further the Church’s mission. I shall miss the work but retire confident in the knowledge that I leave a great team of colleagues behind me in the Legal Office to carry it on.”
The recruitment of a successor to Stephen will begin shortly to ensure a smooth handover before his departure at Easter.