Churchwarden

Image of the inside of a church

Churchwardens are the bishop's lay officers in a parish. It is a volunteer role, and Churchwardens are vital to the health and wellbeing of our church communities.

The role of a Churchwarden is a statutory one, with ancient origins. The rights and responsibilities are laid down in ecclesiastical law under the Churchwardens Measure 2001.

Their first and direct responsibility is to the Bishop, usually via the Archdeacon. Together with the parish priest, they are generally responsible for the day-to-day functioning of a parish.

Today the role is very varied, but generally involves matters to do with church life, governance, buildings and worship. Churchwardens work closely with Archdeacons and their offices.

Churchwarden Visitation

Canons of the Church of England

E1 of Churchwardens

1. The churchwardens of parishes and districts shall be chosen in accordance with the Churchwardens Measure 2001 and any other Measure, Act, or scheme affecting churchwardens.

2. (a) At a time and place to be appointed by the Bishop annually, being on a date not later than 31st July in each year, each person chosen for the office of churchwarden shall appear before the Bishop, or his substitute duly appointed, and be admitted to the office of churchwarden after:-

(i) making a declaration in the presence of the Bishop or his substitute, that he will faithfully and diligently perform the duties of his office; and

(ii) subscribing a declaration to that effect and also that he is not disqualified under Section 2(1), (2) or (3) of the Churchwardens Measure 2001.

2. (b) In relation to filling of a casual vacancy the reference in paragraph (a) above to the 31st July shall be construed as a reference to a date three months after the person who is to fill the vacancy is chosen or the date of the next annual meeting of the parishioners to elect churchwardens, whichever is the earlier.

3. Subject to any provision of any Measure, Act, or scheme relating to the resignation or vacation of their office, the churchwardens so chosen and admitted shall continue in their office until they, or others as their successors, be admitted in like manner by the Bishop or his substitute duly appointed or, if no person is so admitted by 31st July in the year in question, until that date.

4. The churchwardens when admitted are officers of the Bishop. They 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.

5. In the churchwardens is vested the property in the plate, ornaments, and other movable goods of the church, and they shall keep an inventory thereof which they shall revise from time to time as occasion may require. On going out of office they shall duly deliver to their successors any goods of the church remaining in their hands together with the said inventory, which shall be checked by their successors.

6. In this Canon "Bishop" means the bishop of the diocese concerned.

PLEASE NOTE:  ALL VISITATIONS (due to be held in June and July 2021) HAVE BEEN CANCELLED.   CHURCHWARDENS WILL BE SWORN IN LOCALLY BY THEIR INCUMBENT.  ALL DECLARATIONS TO BE COMPLETED BY 31ST AUGUST 2021.

 

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