It has become apparent to me, talking to people in the village, especially at the Wednesday morning drop-ins, that many people don’t know what a Churchwarden is or does. So I thought you might be interested to know.
Traditionally, the village and church were one. This was before Parish Councils and Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) were formed. Instead, once a year, there was a ‘Vestry Meeting’ for the whole village. Two Churchwardens were elected, one to represent the Vicar (and Bishop) and one to represent the people of the village. That is why if you look in the church there are two staffs at the end of two of the pews, one with a bishop’s mitre on top and one with a figure.
Nowadays there are still two Churchwardens and still one is supposed to support the Vicar and the other liaise with the people (not just congregation!). It actually works out much looser than that. Both Churchwardens tend to keep an eye on the Vicar, that he doesn’t miss services, or fails to call PCC meetings, that kind of thing. Both as far as possible try to represent the Church and its activities to the people and report to the Vicar any new villagers, any illness they hear of, anyone needing help, etc.
The Churchwardens’ other main responsibility is for the church building and its surrounds and graveyards. We have to check the building for maintenance purposes, looking out for such things as dislodged tiles on the roof or loose or dangerous gravestones, and then arranging to get them fixed. We also have to ensure that there are readers for the lessons at the services, servers at the Communion services, someone to play the organ.
There are separate Church laws governing the building and the churchyards and any major repairs require a ‘Faculty’ from the Diocese of Oxford, rather like obtaining planning permission. This too falls to the Churchwarden.
In addition there are Annual Reports on the activities of the Church to write and returns to make to the Diocese.
We are also charged with maintaining orderly conduct during the services and have the power of arrest for anyone causing a nuisance!!
This is all voluntary too! And while we have no Vicar there are many other things to attend to.
As you will see, we are kept busy. At present, our second Churchwarden has decided that since he no longer lives in the village and is kept extremely busy with his work, he can no longer continue. So if anyone is looking for a job …..
Pat Cook, Churchwarden