The role of the Church Warden plays an essential part in each service and is vital in communicating the word of God.
The Canons of the Church of England state that churchwardens shall be foremost in representing the laity and in cooperating 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, churchyard and parish, especially during the time of divine service. The property, in the plate, ornaments and other moveable goods of the church, is vested in them, and they should keep an up-to-date inventory of these items, and deliver them to their successors.
* care for and support the parish priest, and be people to whom the incumbent can turn to for advice and support
* try to ensure that the incumbent is relieved of superfluous administrative, and other, tasks
* provide feedback, as a ‘critical friend’, for the parish priest
* care for the congregation and encourage people in their Christian faith
* help to resolve disputes or disagreements amongst the congregation or with the parish priest, or with the local community
They should attend services regularly and normally arrive in good time to support the welcome group, be present for any refreshments, and assist in tidying up after services.
During a vacancy in a parish, the churchwardens, are responsible for ensuring that worship, pastoral care and mission continues in the parish, and for supporting any assistant clergy, lay ministers, staff and volunteers in the parish in their responsibilities.
1. Meetings / Trusteeships
They are ex officio members of the PCC (the trustees of the parish), and the PCC Standing Committee. Churchwardens become members of the Parish Council from the moment they are elected, although they might not be admitted to the office until several weeks later.
They may also be ex officio trustees of parish ecclesiastical and parochial charities. They should meet regularly with the incumbent.
With the incumbent and PCC, they should use their best endeavours to ensure that:
* there is adequate provision for and oversight of the administration of the parish, including financial administration
* there are proper procedures in place for recruiting, and managing lay staff and volunteers
* the Parish Council adopts a Safeguarding policy, and has an action plan for ensuring that the policy is implemented
* the PCC has a health and safety policy and ensures that it is implemented
* there are adequate preparations for the Bishops parochial visitation.
They should use their best endeavours to ensure that:
* there are proper systems in place for counting collections, recording amounts and their secure holding until they can be banked
* adequate processes are in place for managing the finances of the Parish Council
* expenses of office are paid to the clergy
* all bills are paid
* the parish’s end of year accounts, and other returns are prepared promptly.
In the absence of a Parish Council Treasurer, the churchwardens must fulfil the role of Treasurer together.
Churchwardens should use their best endeavours to ensure that:
* the Parish Council has a Mission Action Plan, and pays attention to implementing it
* there is an appropriately encouraging welcome to people attending church
* the church is open to the public as much as possible.
* That the parish develops an action plan for the acquisition of its own permanent church within the parish.
5. Pastoral Care
Churchwardens should use their best endeavours to ensure that the pastoral work of the Church is being undertaken in the parish and amongst the congregation.
6. Buildings and Contents and Property
Churchwardens are responsible for ensuring that the Parish Council cares for and maintains the chapel it uses and its contents.
They are responsible for ensuring that:
* proper records of any property transactions, including licences under Faculty and tenancy agreements and leases or even memorandum of understanding, are kept safe.
* a list of all ecclesiastical trusts and charities associated with the parish is maintained
* an annually updated inventory and photographic record of all the items belonging to the church it retained
7. Liturgy and Worship
In the absence of the parish priest, they are responsible, for ensuring that there is someone to conduct services, and that liturgy and the life of the parish continues as far as possible as with the previous incumbent. If there is no-one available they should conduct any service, as far as possible themselves. They must check that all visiting clergy hold the Bishop’s Licence or Permission to Officiate.
They should ensure that the service register and other registers are properly filled in.
During a vacancy in the parish, they, are responsible for the good ordering of the parish.
They are responsible for ensuring that people are properly welcomed to the church and to services and that sides people are appointed.
They are responsible for good order in the church and churchyard and parish. In the event of a service being disrupted or a disturbance in the church they should call the police, and, if necessary, may arrest a person, or escort them off the premises.
At the end of their period of office churchwardens should handover their keys to their successors, and the inventory, which should then be checked and signed.
Churchwardens are not expected to do everything above themselves, but to make sure that there are other people available to carry out the various tasks.
If you would like to be a Church Warden at St George’s, contact us.