In this age of bloated forms, pity the poor churchwarden

In this age of bloated forms, pity the poor churchwarden

(Photo: Facebook/Church of England)

Charles Moore revealed in a latest article in The Telegraph, of which he was previously editor, that his spouse is each churchwarden and treasurer of her parish church.

“Martyn’s Law is coming quickly,” he wrote. “Named after Martyn Hett, one of many 22 murdered by the Manchester Arena bomber in 2017, the Bill has the laudable purpose of higher defending premises from terrorist assaults. Its session interval, for these with ‘smaller premises’ similar to church buildings and colleges, ends on 18 March.”

Lord Moore of Etchingham continued: “The churchwarden in our nation parish, who occurs to be my spouse, has been trying into what this implies. All church buildings will likely be required to register with a brand new regulator.”

He concluded: “The church has no paid employees, solely volunteers, most of whom are over 70 years previous, their numbers greater than decimated by Covid. As churchwarden and treasurer, she is overworked. Should she actually be compelled to grow to be a safety guard as effectively?” 

This prompted some recollections from my time because the vicar of a South Yorkshire parish. For the final 5 years of my time there till I left in 2019, I used to be appearing treasurer for the church. The small congregation had been unable to supply a volunteer.

Fortunately, an accountant at a big evangelical church close by, with which our church had just lately fashioned a mission partnership, very kindly agreed to arrange the annual accounts for the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM). She was a God-send.

But many of the routine administration landed on me – banking the Sunday assortment; logging funds; leaving audit trails; protecting the Parochial Church Council (PCC) totally within the loop on the funds; liaising with the native diocesan board of finance; and paying (after acquiring the requisite counter-signature on the PCC cheque e book) electricians, plumbers, architects, organists, window cleaners, roofers, builders and the pest management skilled who suggested the church after it suffered an infestation of squirrels.

I used to be lucky to have had a really supportive churchwarden. I have no idea Lady Moore’s circumstances – she could, like I used to be, be helped by an accountant who prepares the annual accounts. Perhaps, in contrast to me, she has mastered on-line banking and so saves time from lugging across the PCC cheque e book.

But if she is a standard church treasurer and does the APCM accounts herself, from my data of what a churchwarden’s position includes, my conservative estimate is that her mixed position would take up a mean of three nine-to-six working days per week.

But these hours are unfold out taking over many evenings, so I’d think about Lady Moore struggles to get a full weekly time off from her voluntary church work.

Elected yearly by the APCM, churchwardens have explicit duty for the church constructing and its different properties. They serve ex officio on the PCC. They are sometimes the primary to reach on Sundays to open up the church for the companies and the final to go away. They usually have sensible tasks at weddings and funerals. They have, notably in rural settings, a public position within the parish and are anticipated to attend varied diocesan conferences.

The churchwarden position alone is a major dedication. Lady Moore is clearly dedicated to her parish and to its ministry of Word and Sacrament.

Her parish in rural Sussex is a part of Chichester Diocese. In the final 10 years of my ministry I seen that the native diocese was turning into more and more bureaucratic and centralised. I’ve seen in my position now as an evangelical journalist that my former diocese shouldn’t be alone on this.

Some of this bloated forms is the results of elevated authorities regulation over the previous 20 years. But my commentary is that many dioceses have been centralising management past the calls for of laws and the required necessities of higher safeguarding.

I get the impression that Chichester is extra delicate to the rising calls for on frontline clergy and church volunteers than most dioceses. Meanwhile within the Diocese of Wokeshire, wouldn’t it be a stretch to reckon that the ‘variety, equality and inclusion enforcer’, working from house little question and having laid one more heavy bureaucratic burden on the parishes, clocks off at lunch?

The Book of Common Prayer Collect for in the present day, the Fifth Sunday in Lent, is in fact a prayer for all Christian folks. But readers minded to wish it would prefer to uphold specifically frontline churchwardens and PCC treasurers similar to Lady Moore:

“We beseech thee, Almighty God, to look upon thy folks; that by thy nice goodness they could be ruled and preserved evermore, each in physique and soul; by Jesus Christ our Lord.”



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