Churchwardens are the senior lay people of the parish and they are officers of the Bishop.
They are elected yearly at the Annual Meeting and may hold office for up to six year unless the Annual Meeting specifically decides this may be longer. They are ex-officio members of the PCC. Each parish is to have two churchwardens.
The way in which churchwardens exercise their office will vary from parish to parish and warden to warden, but there are certain key functions given by Canon law which states that ‘they shall be foremost in representing the laity and in cooperating with the incumbent’ and that ‘they shall use their best endeavours to encourage the parishioners in the practise of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them’. Churchwardens are key people in exercising the ministry of welcome to visitors and care for the needs of the congregation and parish.
Churchwardens have a significant role in overseeing the practical care of the church building and its contents. They must maintain the inventory of the church and a log book of work done and should produce a report on this to the annual meeting of parishioners. They are also required to make reports each year to the archdeacon, who admits them into office on behalf of the Bishop.
Beyond this, local custom will determine what churchwardens do, which varies enormously, from setting up for services, to practical tasks and even the leading of morning and evening prayers.
Above all else they should be the ‘critical friend’ of the incumbent, loyal and supportive but also honest, the person the incumbent can turn to for good advice and encouragement.
In a vacancy it is the churchwardens, with the support of the area dean and the archdeacon, who have the responsibility for the running of the parish.
The archdeacons run training events each year aimed at churchwardens where they look at the many different roles of a warden and share clear advice and where to find useful resources, advice and help in the many facets that the role demands. For more information on these events please contact the archdeacons.
Visitation Papers 2018
The Churchwarden’s Yearbook 2019
Next year’s annual diary and reference book for churchwardens is now available for order. It includes a diary specially designed for churchwardens, covering the period from Advent 2018 to Epiphany 2020, together with reference material to help with the wardens’ many tasks. The order form can be found below.