Churchwardens play a vital part in parish life, caring not just for the church building and the churchyard, but also for the well-being of the church's ministers and members and the wider community.
If you wish to be a Churchwarden you will be fully immersed in the life of your parish church. This is a hugely rewarding role as you have specific areas of responsibility enabling you to act as guardian of the parish church and its services, in co-operation with the parish priest.
The role offers great variety, including administration, pastoral care of your PCC team, dealing with problems and welcoming new people into your parish.
The role can be hugely influential and although it can be time demanding, it is also extremely rewarding.
What does a Churchwarden do?
- First and foremost Churchwardens are officers of the Bishop. In that capacity, each year they present answers to such questions as have been put to them in the Archdeacon’s Articles of Enquiry. They may include in their response any further matters affecting the parish, always remembering that the aim is to inform the Archdeacon and the Bishop whether all is well with the parish or, if not, what is wrong. The formal occasion of the annual visitation and completion of the Articles of Enquiry do not mark the limit of the Churchwarden’s responsibilities in this respect. At any time the Bishop or Archdeacon may make enquiry of them as to parochial matters, and at any time they can inform the Bishop or Archdeacon of any concerns or irregularities in the life of the parish They are also only too glad to hear good news!
- They are legally responsible for the plate, ornaments and other movable goods of the church.
- They compile and maintain an inventory of church goods and a terrier of church lands, and make an annual fabric report to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.
- They keep a logbook of all work done to the church.
- They are responsible for the maintenance of order and decency in the church and churchyard.
- They have legal responsibility for allocation of seats to the congregation and the collection of alms, although in practice they will be assisted by others in these tasks.
- During a vacancy in the benefice the Churchwardens, together with the Rural Dean, will automatically become sequestrators and as such have responsibility for provision of services and care of the parsonage house, although much of this will be undertaken by Diocesan Office staff.
- They know where to go for help (often the Archdeacon is the first port of call), and have faith that can move mountains - although building church extensions can seem more of a challenge!
Who can be a Churchwarden?
- To be eligible for election, a person must be baptised, aged 21 or over, on the church electoral roll, and a regular communicant. These conditions apply unless the Bishop directs otherwise.
- Good Churchwardens also have tact, discretion, a sense of humour, readiness to take the lead on occasion and commitment to the local church and community.
Churchwarden training 2023
Sudbury Archdeaconry | 10 July at 7.00pm at Cockfield Village Hall, Church Lane IP30 0LA
Suffolk Archdeaconry | 17 July at 7.00pm at Aldeburgh Church Hall, Victoria Road, Aldeburgh IP15 5EA
Ipswich Archdeaconry | 19 July at 7.30pm at St Mary at Stoke Church Hall, Stoke Street, Ipswich IP2 8BX
This event has been enormously successful in the past. The training session is aimed primarily at new or nearly new Churchwardens, but experienced ones invariably find that there is always something new to learn. The sessions are also open to anyone who might have reason to think that he or she could be a Churchwarden before long! The session covers Churchwardens’ tasks and legal responsibilities, issues about building maintenance and faculties and many other related issues. There is always an opportunity for Questions and Answers. Events will be led by the Archdeacon with contributions from the Diocesan Registrar.
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