ELECTION OF CHURCHWARDENS
Churchwardens are chosen annually by a meeting of parishioners, which has to be held by 30 April in each year. Candidates should be nominated and seconded in writing by persons entitled to attend the meeting. Those entitled to attend include all those whose names are on the electoral roll of the parish and those residing in the parish whose names appear on the local government register of electors. The meeting is called by the minister of the parish or, if there is no minister, by the existing churchwardens. Notice of the meeting is given by displaying a notice on or near the principal door of the parish church and of every other building in the parish which is licensed for public worship. The notice should be displayed for a period including the last two Sundays before the meeting.
Candidates for churchwarden should state on the nomination paper that they are willing to serve as a churchwarden and are not disqualified from doing so. The nomination paper must be received by the minister of the parish before the meeting starts.
(a) be on the church electoral roll
(b) be actual communicants
(c) be aged at least 21
(d) not be disqualified
Where a person is not qualified under (a), (b) or (c), the Bishop may permit that person to hold office if it appears to him that there are exceptional circumstances to justify this.
ADMISSION TO OFFICE
To become a churchwarden, a person chosen by the parish meeting has to be admitted to office. This takes place at a time and place set annually by the Bishop, not later than 31 July each year. The person chosen appears before the Bishop or his representative, usually the Archdeacon at the Archdeacon’s Visitation, and declares that they will faithfully and diligently perform the duties of the office and that they are not disqualified from holding the office.
Each year, Churchwardens complete a Declaration, usually at the Archdeacon’s Central Visitation. PCC Secretaries return postal copies to their Archdeacon, duly completed with the names of Churchwarden and signed by the Chair of the APCM, prior to the annual Visitation, and the Archdeacon will have the printed forms available for signature by the Churchwardens at the Central Visitation. This will save everyone having to remember to bring their forms to the Visitation, and should make the declaration process more straightforward.
The new churchwarden continues in office for a maximum of six years or until replaced by a successor. After six successive terms a new candidate must be found unless the parish meeting passes a resolution that the six year maximum is not to apply in the parish.
A churchwarden may resign only by written notice of intention sent to the Diocesan Bishop by post, which shall have effect at the end of two months, or at an earlier date determined by the Bishop after consulting the minister and the other churchwarden.
A core part of the Churchwardens’ traditional role has been to safeguard the church, both in the context of public worship and services generally and in relation to individual members of the congregation whilst they are within the church. Churchwardens may therefore have a key role in ‘safeguarding’ issues in the life of the church. The new Safeguarding and Clergy Discipline Measure, approved by the General Synod in July 2015, will introduce provisions to disqualify people who have been included on a barred list (within the meaning of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006) from acting as a Churchwarden. The new Measure will also give the Bishop power to suspend Churchwardens who have been arrested on suspicion of committing an offence mentioned Schedule 1 to the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 or is charged with such an offence without being arrested, or where the Bishop is satisfied that the Churchwarden presents a significant risk of harm to child or vulnerable adult. The new Measure currently awaits approval by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament, following which it is expected to receive Royal Assent.