Parishes are already aware that they need to hold APCMs and annual meeting of parishioners by the extended deadline of 30 November 2020.  If no annual meetings are held by this date the parish will have no churchwardens after 31 January and no deanery synod representatives after 31 December.   Most parishes will have already held their 2020 annual meetings.  Those who have not are strongly urged to hold it online, using zoom or other technology.  It will not be possible to hold an APCM in person during lockdown.  If you have not yet held an APCM, and are not able to do so online by 30 November, then you should contact your archdeacon immediately if you wish to explore whether conducting elections by postal vote might be possible and practicable in relation to both the election of churchwardens (by the parishioners) and the election of PCC and deanery synod lay representatives (by those on the church electoral roll). Once your APCM has taken place please ensure Caroline Todd receives your APCM returns at

Following the latest government and subsequent national advice, further guidance is now given which now supersedes previous guidance issued. A summary of the basic changes and rules is set out below, together with an Appendix (A) and timetable (Appendix (B)).

IMPORTANT INFORMATION posted 7 JULY 2020 (text updated 18 September)

Virtual Meetings of Deanery Synods and PCCs

I am pleased to say that we have now received revised guidance which enables meetings of Deanery Synods and PCCs to be held electronically, so that decisions taken at those meetings during these exceptional times have the same force as if taken at a physical meeting.

The Bishop of Oxford has now signed an Instrument putting these arrangements in place for our Diocese for a limited period. In each case, it is for the Chair to determine the arrangements for the meeting and an appropriate method of electronic voting, which will depend what software is being used.

Rules M23 to M29 of the Church Representation Rules will continue to apply, but you should also bear in mind the general principles set out in the practical considerations for annual meetings below.

APCMs/Annual Meeting of Parishioners

Bishop Steven had previously signed a separate Instrument enabling the 2020 annual church meetings which had not been held by the time of lockdown in March to be deferred until the autumn, with the deadline becoming 30 November. It is now time to reschedule annual meetings, if one was not held before 23 March. Please bear in mind that the electoral roll has to be revised in advance of the meeting following the usual procedure and deadlines in the Church Representation Rules; this needs to happen even if the electoral roll was revised in March but the APCM did not follow.

If the expected numbers of attendees would be manageable within your risk assessment for the church or other venue, and subject to further Government or Church of England guidance nearer the time and any local restrictions, then it may be possible for the meeting to be held physically. However, if it becomes clear that it would not be safe or sensible to hold the meeting physically, it is now allowable this year for the annual meeting to take place virtually. You may wish to set a date now (we are particularly aware that for multi-parish benefices incumbents are likely to want to spread these through September, October and November) but confirm nearer the time whether it will be a physical or virtual meeting (though bearing in mind the need for notices).

Although a virtual meeting will enable essential business to be conducted efficiently and without further delay, there are certain practical considerations which need to be taken into account:

  1. The APCM is a meeting for all those on the church’s electoral roll. As with a physical meeting, it is important to be clear who has a right to vote and a right to speak. The purpose of this meeting is to receive the reports referred to in Church Representation Rules rule M5 and to make the elections and appointments referred to in CRR rule M6. The management of all of this in a virtual meeting is likely to be challenging and so you might wish to consider publishing the reports and proposals in advance, being clear about how the information can be accessed.
  2. The annual meeting of parishioners is a meeting for all those on the church’s electoral roll and all those resident in the parish whose names are on the civil electoral roll of the parish. The purpose of this meeting is to elect the churchwardens. The provisions concerning nomination in section 4 of the Churchwardens Measure 2001 continue to apply and some thought will need to be given as to how the nomination paperwork can be co-ordinated in advance of the virtual meeting.
  3. The new arrangements permit the meeting to take place in a virtual ‘location’ (for example, on an interactive video-conferencing platform such as zoom) and for voting to take place electronically rather than ‘in person’. It does not change the procedural requirements for the convening of the meeting and notices of it (see CRR rule M2), and some care and creativity will be needed not only to comply with these rules, but also to ensure that the meeting (and the arrangements for accessing it) are clear and widely published so that those entitled to attend are informed about it.
  4. The meeting must take place in a way which is inclusive (so far as is reasonably possible). Inevitably, this will mean that some may not be able to participate (for example, because they do not have access to internet or computer facilities), but it will may also enable some churches to ‘host’ a meeting in a more inclusive way (for example, to include those who are shielding, or where numbers would need to be restricted in a physical meeting in order to comply with Government and Church of England guidance).
  5. The platform for the meeting must be interactive such that those participating can at least hear and be heard (and preferably also see and be seen). It cannot simply be a video platform (such as YouTube) or a video with a ‘comments’ facility (such as Facebook).

Subject to this, it is for the chair of the meeting to determine how the meeting is conducted.

PCC consideration of resumption of public worship

As circulated within the Diocese, new Church of England guidance enables decisions to be taken on the reopening of churches for public worship. It is important that a risk assessment is carried out for each church, which will enable a decision to be taken as to whether a church can safely reopen for worship and if so how this is best done within the guidelines. It is appropriate that the PCC is consulted on the risk assessment.

Legal advice has also now been provided that makes clear that the minister and/or churchwardens should not feel under any pressure to open a church for public worship if it would be unsafe to do so but that as the relevant normal requirements of the Canons of the Church of England came back into force on 4 July, there are certain procedural steps to be taken if there will be any significant delay in resuming services.

If the PCC and the incumbent decide after due reflection that it will not be possible to re-open for public worship in August then our advice is to pass a PCC Resolution to that effect, following the guidance closely on the wording of the motion. If for any reason you are unable to offer public worship in at least one parish church in the benefice on Sundays in September then you will need to pass the second resolution provided in the guidance and write to your Area Bishop seeking formal permission for this.

If you have any queries please contact your Archdeacon in the first instance, and thank you for all you continue to do at these challenging times.
Mark Humphriss
Diocesan Secretary

Guidance specific to the 2020 annual parochial church meeting (APCM) and meeting for election of churchwardens is available here:

There has been many updates from Church House in connection with this and other messages can be found in the message library – see link in box below.

Presentation on Governance Diocesan Registrar 2019 pdf

Forms referred to in the 2020 guidance are available in pdf and Word format as below. (click where it says pdf or word, not on the title).  Click here, for the letter.  All  of the forms below are  available as a single document, you can download it here as a pdf APCM Bundle

Electoral roll

ER-revision-guidance-Covid-19 v2

Updated Guidance on ER revision and APCM August 2020

E1 Notice of preparation of new church electoral roll 2020 Word  / pdf

E2 Application for enrolment on church electoral roll (SG1) Word / pdf

E3 Electoral roll certificate Word / pdf

Annual parochial church meeting (APCM)

Summary of changes to Church Representation Rules  pdf

M1 Notice of annual parochial church meeting  Word / pdf

M2 APCMs – notes for PCC Secretaries pdf 

M3 Nomination for election of PCC member at APCM  Word /pdf

M4 Office holder Data Consent form  Word

M5 Fit and Proper Person Declaration Word  /pdf

M6 Election Results Form Word /pdf

Timetable and Summary of Actions  pdf

Meeting for election of churchwardens

C1 Notice of meeting for election of churchwardens Word  / pdf

C2 Churchwarden’s nomination form  Word / pdf

Churchwardens, on election to office and on admission, must complete a declaration form to be sent to the relevant Archdeacon.  This will automatically be sent in the Visitation packs in late April/ early May.
They may also be obtained from deanery administrators.

Election of Deanery Synod Representatives (Next election to take place at APCMs by 31st May 2020)

Following the revised guidance issued the latest advice is as advised in previous communications. On 10th September 2020, Bishop Steven signed a new Bishop’s Instrument extending APCMs until the 30th November. The instrument signed also has an affect on Deanery Synod elections and you are advised to read. This replaces the current information in a normal year as set out below.

Information is contained in the Diocesan Secretary’s letter above.

NEW: Lay Representatives to deanery synod (new triennium) members will be elected to serve from 1st July 2020 to 3oth  June 2023.

D2 Nomination of lay member of Deanery Synod Word

D3 Elections Results sheet Word / pdf

Deanery Synod Rep calculations 2020.

Table for calculating the number of lay representatives is contained in each individual deanery sheet. See link click here