Churchwardens deal with more than bats, bells and boilers. They 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 for the wider community.
Churchwardens remind the church that maintenance and mission go hand-in-hand.
The office of Churchwarden is very ancient, going back to the 1200s. Churchwardens have always had a duty towards people who live in the parish, not just the congregation. That is why they are elected at the Annual Parish Meeting.
- What Churchwardens do-+
Churchwardens are officers of the Bishop, helping him to exercise his oversight of the Diocese. They are the laity's representatives and the parish priest's colleagues. They have a responsibility to care for the church building and its contents, for the churchyard and for other land or property owned by the local church.
Churchwardens are bridge-builders, and witnesses to God's all-embracing concern. They are often the first point of contact for inquirers, visitors, newcomers, locals who drop in to church during the week, and people repairing the building.
- 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.
The above are the formal requirements. 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. 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! The document below summarises the duties of Churchwardens and Sidesmen and their appointment.
- Canon Law E1 and E2 | PDF
Useful books to which Churchwardens should have access:
- J Behrens - Practical Church Management (Gracewing 2005)
- K Macmorran & T Briden - Handbook for Churchwardens & Parochial Church Councillors (Continuum 2010)
- D Parrott - Your Church and the Law (Canterbury Press 2008)
- M Dudley & V Rounding - Churchwardens: a survival guide (SPCK 2009)
- Church Representation Rules 2011 (blue cover) (CHP 2011)