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.’
Articles of Enquiry – churchwardens are responsible for completing the Articles of Enquiry each year. These are currently included in the Parish Returns.
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.
Other useful documents are:
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 http://www.beingachurchwarden.com/
Training held on 18th July
The Dorchester and Oxford Archdeaconries held a training evening for new Churchwardens on 18th July. 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.