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THE WATERSIDE CHURCHES

OUR CHURCH WARDENS

Welcome to the page that tells you about our Church Wardens. The role is unpaid, voluntary and demanding, but rewarding. It is also vital to the running of a church. The Church of England expects a church to have two Wardens, but, in exceptional circumstances and for as short a period as possible, a church may function with only one. Wardens are elected by their PCC and may serve for a period of 3 years. Wardens may then be elected for a further 3 year period. After that, it is expected that Wardens stand down and have a break for at least 1 year. There is provision for this to be set aside in times of particular need and Wardens may continue to serve for an agreed additional period of time.

Who are we?

Devoran: Anne Ramsden

St. Piran's, Perranarworthal: Heather McCombie and Paul Stuart

Our contact details may be found on the Useful Numbers page of this website.

What do we do?

       In co-operation with the priest in charge (or, in cases of vacancy, the bishop), Churchwardens are generally responsible for the day-to-day functioning of the parish. These responsibilities include various aspects of administration, buildings and people. Our  work is not just the maintenance of the church building, but helping the smooth running of the church. In this capacity, wardens are considered the leading lay member of the congregation, and, during the incumbency of a priest, may have varying duties and responsibilities according to the customs of the parish, the canons of the diocese to which the parish belongs, the desires of the priest, and the direction of the parish board and/or the congregation as a whole.

     Many of the Churchwarden's responsibilities are connected with building maintenance, such as temperature control, roof repair, seating, lighting, etc. If the parish has a Sexton, the wardens would normally consult and coordinate with him or her on these matters. Churchwardens are also responsible for carrying out (or at least organizing) an annual inspection of the church building. They hold a key to the church and are entitled to access at any time. The grounds of the church also come under the purview of the Churchwardens, and depending on the size and location of the church, the grounds may include a cemetary, gardens, driveway and/or car park. 

     There are also responsibilities in connection with the Sunday services and for keeping order in the church. Churchwardens have a duty to make sure that the clergy can conduct their services and other meetings without hindrance. This requires that any visitors or newcomers are welcomed and assisted, that there is adequate seating, proper lighting and heating, and that all other facilities required are in place, including safety requirements. Churchwardens should be on hand to welcome guest preachers, the Archdeacon or Bishop when they visit, and offer any help as needed. On the rare occasion of a major disturbance within (or immediately outside) the church, the Churchwardens take primary responsibility in dealing with the matter and have the power to arrest anyone or escort them off the premises if necessary.

       Churchwardens are required to respond to ‘official’ questions about the parish, and have to make various reports each year to the annual parochial meeting and to the Archdeacon. They may be trustees of some charitable trust connected with the church and are required to keep detailed records of all property, professional inspections, alterations and repairs. They are expected to attend all the meetings of the parish council and the standing committees, and should meet and pray regularly with the parish priest.

     In some parishes, the Churchwardens are responsible for counting the Collection and recording the amount in the service Register, and determining (along with the PCC ) how funds are to be allocated. In other parishes, collection duties may be undertaken by The Treasurer.

     In many parishes, Churchwardens have the authority to officiate at Morning and Evening Prayer if a priest or licensed lay person is unavailable. The only areas in which wardens almost always have no authority, often proscribed by canon, is music and liturgy, which is considered to be under the exclusive authority of the priest or bishop in charge of the parish. As members of other parish committees and groups, Churchwardens are often able to offer advice and assistance. Each warden will have her or his own particular areas of knowledge and interests; between them they should not only fulfill their formal duties but also deal with unexpected problems and add to the general well-being of the parish.

   During an Interregnum (the time between the departure of the current rector and the arrival of a new incumbent), Churchwardens will share the overall responsibility for the church and its worship activities with the Regional or Rural Dean. They will arrange for guest preachers to take the Sunday services (and any other events) and handle their expenses. The two Churchwardens together are usually responsible for announcing the final selection and arrival of a new incumbent to the parish, by reading aloud the Bishop’s official letter of appointment during the Sunday service. 

     Churchwardens are sworn in each year and the oath, apart from other matters, commits them to support the incumbent priest and be a regular communicant. This oath is a binding commitment and the Wardens also sign a document at the Visitation (swearing in) ceremony. If a warden finds it difficult or impossible to fulfil the oath, it is expected that he/she must consider their position. The Bishop must be involved as Wardens are Bishop's Officers.

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