The office of churchwarden is an ancient one. Churchwardens are the bishop's lay officers in a parish and are vital to the health and wellbeing of our church communities.
The role of a churchwarden is a statutory one, with rights and responsibilites 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.
Churchwardens must be baptised, regular communicants who are resident in the parish or on the Electoral Roll.
They need not be members of the congregation of the parish church in a parish of more than one church.
In addition, any churchwarden:
- must be over 21 (minimum age varies between 18 and 21)
- should consent to being appointed
- should have been confirmed, and should have received communion at least three times in the previous year.
Functions of churchwardens include:
- to be officers of the bishop (not the incumbent or PCC)
- to hold ex-officio membership of the PCC
- to be foremost in representing the laity and co-operating with the incumbent:
- to encourage parishioners in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace
- to have oversight of finance, even though the detail of this will be handled by the treasurer
- to have oversight of the care of the fabric of the parish church, and to report on its condition each year to the Parochial Church Council and to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting
- to have legal ownership of the moveable furniture and ornaments of the parish church, and to keep an up-to-date inventory of them
- to maintain an up-to-date logbook of all works done to the fabric of the parish church
- to present, at the end of their year of office, answers to such questions as are put to them by the bishop or archdeacon
- to ensure that all parish registers and records are properly kept and filed
- during a vacancy, to share the oversight of the parish with the rural dean.