Typewriters, carbon copies, tobacco smoke and ledger cards were the rule when Ashley Ellis first started as Finance Manager for the Diocese of Wakefield in 1992.And after 26 years taking care of money matters within the Church of England, Ashley is now leaving the Diocese of Leeds to head a charity dedicated to helping parish volunteers.
“I’ve been asked to be the chief executive officer for the Association of Church Accountants and Treasurers (ACAT) and so I finish working for Diocese on Maunday Thursday and start work with them the following Tuesday,” said Ashley.
“To be honest, I was hoping for a bit of a long holiday!
“That said, they wanted me to start straight away, which is great.”
ACAT is based in Claycross, near Chesterfield and supports all denominations by offering financial training and guidance to those tasked with church finances at grass roots level.
“One thing I shan’t miss is the daily commute to Leeds from my home in Sheffield – which can take two hours each way.
“But what I really will miss is the interaction with people at Church House and the opportunities to talk, not just about work, but about people’s vocations and ministry.
(Pictured right with Ashley is Joint Diocesan Secretary, Debbie Child, and the Bishop of Kirkstall, Rt Revd Paul Slater)
“It’s great to have conversations about where God is taking them and in some way, to be part of their journey.
“So it’s been about expressing my own faith through work, and also a journey I’ve shared with people as they travel in faith too.”
Ashley started at Wakefield after accountancy training at Leeds Polytechnic and a stint with Midland Bank.
“Everything was done on paper then, there were only manual typewriters, people smoked in the office and the accounting was done using ledger cards and pre-signed cheques. It was very much stuck in the past and I was the person who moved things forward to a professional approach.
“At first I was referred to as Mr Ellis, but I said no – it’s Ashley.
“I also introduced the office to computers!”
Ashley became Diocesan Secretary for Wakefield in 2000, a job which included memorable trips to Australia and Tanzania to review Anglican financial admin, and then became Joint Diocesan Secretary for Leeds, along with Debbie Child, when it was formed in 2014.
“Now I’m looking forward to a job which includes getting out to different dioceses and churches to help their treasurers and accountants.
“I believe that if you get parish administration right, then the outgoing ministry has the solid foundation it needs.”
Bishop Nick thanked Ashley for his hard work:
“The creation of the new diocese was extremely demanding for many people, but particularly for those who had to actually make the details happen.
“Alongside Debbie Child, Ashley worked beyond the call of duty in bringing the three dioceses into one, creating new structures, setting up an entirely new office and administration, and bringing together systems, people and cultures.
“I am very grateful to Ashley for his contribution to all this.
“As he moves on, he goes with our gratitude, our prayers and best wishes for the future.”
Diocesan Secretary Debbie Child added: "The last four years have been a rollercoaster of closing down, starting up, creating new opportunities, culminating in bringing people together into a brand new office.
"It’s been exciting and challenging in equal measure and would have been an impossible task for one diocesan secretary.
"So I’m incredibly grateful that Ashley and I have been able to work together to get to this point and his support during that time has been invaluable.
"I wish him well as he moves onto the next chapter."