The Role and Duties of a Churchwarden

Churchwardens have important legal responsibilities, but the office also has a vital spiritual, pastoral and mission dimension – the duty is to be foremost among the laity in the life and mission of the Church in the parish.

The churchwardens’ main duties are summarised in Canon E1 paragraphs 4 and 5. Under those paragraphs, once churchwardens take up their office, they:

  • are the officers of the bishop (not the incumbent or PCC) (E1.4);
  • must be the foremost in representing the laity and co-operating with the incumbent (E1.4);
  • must use their best endeavours by example and precept to encourage the parishioners in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them (E1.4);
  • must discharge the duties assigned to them by law and custom (E1.4). (Examples of this are their duties in relation to the offerings or collections in the church, and the duties imposed on them by Part 3 [49 & 50] of the Care of Church and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 2018 in relation to the church building and the land and articles belonging to it);
  • must maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the time of divine service (E1.4); and
  • hold the title to the movable goods of the church, must keep an inventory of those goods and keep it up to date, and must hand over the goods to their successors, who must check the inventory (E1.5).

In addition:

  • As churchwarden that person will automatically become a member of the PCC until he or she either ceases to satisfy those qualifications or ceases to be a churchwarden (CRR M15e)
  • if the PCC fails to appoint a treasurer, the churchwarden or churchwardens who are members of the PCC will be responsible for discharging the office of treasurer (CRR M20 [3a])
  • churchwardens may also be trustees of other parochial charities by virtue of their office; and
  • during a vacancy in the benefice, the churchwardens will be the sequestrators together with the rural or area dean and anyone else whom the bishop appoints. In the case of a team ministry, the team vicars and certain other members of the team take the place of the rural or area dean as automatic sequestrators except so far as the bishop directs that any of them are not to be included.

The role of a churchwarden can be described formally as in the Canons (see above) but the role is one that is expressed through a series of important relationships; with God, with other members of the congregation, with the bishop and the vicar, and with the wider community.


  • A person of Christian faith and conviction
  • A person of prayer
  • Willing to be involved in the life of the Church and the community
  • Willing to engage with change
  • Missional Leadership
      • Leadership
      • Maintenance
      • Ministry

Collegial and Collaborative

  • An officer of the bishop
  • reporting back
  • Articles of Enquiry via Archdeacon
  • problems or complaints about the parish
  • attempt to resolve issues locally
  • sharing good news!
  • access to the bishop
  • sharing in the bishop’s leadership in mission

Relationship with the Congregation

  • local and respected person
  • Churchwardens are:
    to use their best endeavours by example and precept to encourage the parishioners in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them (Canon E1)
  • challenging
  • holding a wider vision
  • maintaining good communication

Relationship with Parish Priest

  • a close working relationship
  • shared vision
  • do not have to agree on everything
  • prayer and meeting together
  • mutual understanding and expectation
  • local leadership in large benefice
  • people of place
  • contact with groups
  • relief of administrative burden
  • resolution and reconciliation

Relationship with the PCC

  • CWs are ex-officio
  • lead the PCC in working with the parish priest (and others) in:
  • promoting the whole mission of the church in the parish – pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical. (PCC powers measure 1956 sec 2)
  • Church Representation Rules
  • oversight of parish share and expenses payments
  • job description and mutual understanding of role

Relationship with Archdeacons

  • Service of admission
  • Advice about buildings and changes
  • DAC and DAC visits
  • permission for temporary re-ordering via the Online Faculty System (OFS)
  • pastoral re-organisation

Relationship with Rural/Area Dean

  • Local responsibility
  • Vacancy

Good Practice

  • Responsible for property including QI Inspection
  • Keep records (NB Parochial Visitations)
    • Terrier – list of land belonging to the church
    • Inventory – list of all items belonging to the church
    • Log book – a list of all alterations and repairs
  • report to PCC each year stating these are accurate
  • annual report to PCC on fixtures an fittings, prior to APCM
  • legal title of plate, furniture etc is with CWs
  • ensure Registers up to date and accurate
  • Overview of finances
  • Charity Trustees
  • Ensuring good policies and practice eg. Health and Safety, Safeguarding, etc
  • Aware of the public perception of the church

Care of Churchyard

  • diocesan regulations
  • own churchyard policy
  • numbered plan with names and dates


  • responsible for welcome and seating
  • organise sidespersons and train them
  • good order in church and during worship
  • taking the collection and counting it
  • may need to step in to lead


  • undertaking the administrative and legal so that others can be freed to take up their ministry


  • for the community, congregation and ministers
  • vision
  • for mission in this place
  • how the church is to grow
  • who are included or not
  • supporting initiatives and change
  • awareness beyond the parochial


  • To parish priest and other ministers
    • prayerful and practical
  • To congregation
    • communication and spotting the ministry potential of others
  • To oneself
    • boundaries of work
    • mindful about what your predecessor did and what you can bring
    • job description – then you know what to say ‘No’ to
    • taking time off
    • who pays the cost of your ministry?


  • in writing to the bishop
  • takes effect two months later
  • priest cannot require resignation
  • resignation in frustration/anger can do lasting damage
  • if leaving the parish
    • inform the parish priest
    • write to the bishop
    • elect replacement by notice of election and repeat Meeting of Parishioners
    • good handover!!!


Page last updated: Wednesday 17th May 2023 11:23 AM
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