Guidance for churchwardens

Notice: Due to Covid19 all Visitation services for the swearing in of Churchwardens have been postponed from May/June 2020.  New dates will be set as soon as possible and are likely to be in November or December.

Churchwardens have important legal responsibilities, but the office also has a vital spiritual, pastoral and mission dimension – the duty is to be foremost among the laity in the life and mission of the Church in the parish.


Churchwardens are some of the most senior lay leaders of the church and every Parish is entitled to appoint two churchwardens. They are elected in accordance with the Churchwardens Measure 2001, at the Vestry meeting at which anyone in the Parish can attend, which is usually held at the same time as the APCM. The post of churchwarden, one of the oldest elected offices in the country dating back to the 13th Century, and their role, is governed by Canon E1 which states ‘The churchwarden shall discharge such duties as are by law and custom assigned to them; they shall be foremost in representing the laity and in co-operating with the incumbent; they shall use their best endeavours by example and precept to encourage the parishioners in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them. They shall also maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the time of divine service.’

The excellent Guide to experiencing God’s presence in your church building gives guidance, advice and sample text to enable you to create a guide for visitors to your church outside service times.  Order your free copy from Church House by emailing or download from the diocesan website.

Articles of Enquiry – churchwardens are responsible for completing the Articles of Enquiry each year. These are currently included in the Parish Returns. To submit your Articles of Enquiry data, please visit the Parish Returns System. If you have difficulty accessing this website, please email

Visitation Service – churchwardens are sworn in annually by the Archdeacon, or in the case of an Episcopal Visitation (usually every three years), by the Bishop. Visitation Services usually take place in May or June. Details of Visitation Services for each Archdeaconry can be found in the Area Section of the website.

Parish Inspections – churchwardens are required to assist the Archdeacon, or Area Dean, with parish inspections every three years where terrier and inventory, PCC minutes, Health and Safety policies, and safeguarding policies are inspected as well as the interior and exterior condition of the church building and grounds. A checklist of what is covered on the inspection can be found here, a guidance note on the Church Registry (terrier and inventory) can be found here and a blank Church Register can be found here. The Church Care website has useful information on how to look after your church and churchyard and the Ecclesiastical Insurance website is also a very useful source of information.

Online Faculty System – To apply for a Faculty or List B permission you will need to use the Online Faculty System.

Other useful documents are:

Churchwardens Measure 2001 – A Guide

Churchwardens Nomination Form

Churchwardens Declaration form

The role of churchwardens

Advice for Churchwardens during vacancies can be found on each Archdeaconry’s Area page.

There are a number of books which may help you in your role as churchwarden. One is called Rotas, Rules and Rectors by Matthew Clements. For further information and to order, please visit

Training for Churchwardens

Training dates scheduled for the summer and autumn of 2020 have been cancelled due to the Coronavirus outbreak.  Dates will be advised for 2021 as soon as possible.

Previous training sessions:

The Dorchester and Oxford Archdeaconries held a training evening for new Churchwardens on 18th July 2019. Copies of the presentations given on the night are listed below:

  • Tony Kerry, Deputy Diocesan Surveyor, talked about repairs and maintenance. His presentation is here.
  • Darren Oliver, Registrar, discussed legal issues for churchwardens and when to contact the Registry. His presentation will be available shortly.
  • Liz Kitch, DAC, talked about how the DAC works and the faculty process. Her presentation is here.
  • Lynne Ingham from Ecclesiastical Insurance would invite you to visit the Ecclesiastical Insurance website or call Derek Stancombe if you have any questions.

The Dorchester and Oxford Archdeaconries held a training morning for Churchwardens on 19th October 2019. This included keynote speaker Revd. Dr. Andrea Russell from The Queen’s Foundation for Ecumenical Theological Education in Birmingham as well as five workshops. Here is Andrea’s presentation and notes, which are for personal use only and should not be used without Andrea’s permission please.

Copies of workshop handouts given out on the day are below:

Derek talked through a number of considerations in church family life, including:

  • pastoral care situations,
  • opening and locking up the church,
  • persons whom we might suspect are under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • volunteers collecting persons in their vehicles
  • criminal activity (e.g. theft of metal)
  • setup of events (resources and equipment)
  • personal protective equipment (e.g. COSHH)
  • reporting of accidents and RIDDOR
  • first aid
  • incidents such as fainting
  • potential for disorder in a worship service and dealing with
  • safe access and egress of church grounds and premises
  • trustee duty of care, including cover for errors and omissions and trustee liability cover

He also mentioned about the grants available from their parents, the Allchurches Trust.

Should anyone have any queries or if any church/PCC would like to discuss risk management, theft, insurance etc., please don’t hesitate to contact Derek on 01527 575220 / 07884 385792 or at