PCC/Deanery Synod Elections
Joining and Serving on The PCC
This short note is intended as a brief guide to serving on the PCC at St Andrew’s Chorleywood.It is intended merely as a summary note and not a comprehensive guide. The rights and duties of the PCC, and of PCC members, are set out in detail in ‘The Church Representation Rules’, which you can access online. Please see “For further Reading” below.
Being a member of the PCC at St Andrew’s is a service. Like any Christian service, it can be immensely rewarding but can also have moments of grind – such as finishing a long meeting after 11pm on a Monday evening! In short, there are two key duties that fall to the PCC:
Supporting the mission and ministry of the vicar and of St Andrew’s more generally
Taking overall responsibility for the financial management of the church
The Anglican context
We are an Anglican church. That means that the way we are governed is ordered by law, and rooted in custom and practice that goes back many hundreds of years, even though brought up to date by successive revisions. So the incumbent (the vicar), the Churchwardens and PCC members have separate and distinct rights, duties and responsibilities. In turn the vicar has duties to the diocesan Bishop, who delegates his charge to the vicar.
In addition, there are separate, parallel, trustee responsibilities for PCC members under charity law. See below. These are no less serious.
There are some things that we can arrange ourselves, for instance where the law is silent or allows alternative approaches; in other cases we cannot make changes, for instance we cannot change the duties of Churchwardens or of the vicar.
Within the Anglican structure, parishes are organised locally into deaneries, and deaneries into dioceses. Every three years candidates (currently four) are elected onto our local (Rickmansworth) deanery synod which meets currently three or four times per year. By church law Deanery Synod representatives are automatically entitled to PCC membership. So those considering standing for Deanery Synod should consult both the PCC guidelines and separate ones covering the Deanery Synod role. (See “For further reading below”).
The Charities Act Context
In 2009, following implementation of the Charities Act 2006, St Andrew’s registered as a charity in its own right. As a consequence, all PCC members are now automatically charity trustees. The responsibilities of a charity trustee overlap significantly with those of a PCC member. The main additional implications are the following:
A small minority of people may find themselves ineligible to be a trustee and hence by implication ineligible to stand for PCC. This includes anyone previously disqualified as a company director or anyone convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or deception.
Church staff and their close relatives, or other financial beneficiaries of the church’s activity and their close relatives, may require special dispensation from the Charity Commission in order to become a trustee/PCC member. This can be organised through the church office. If in doubt please consult the PCC secretary or Church Manager
In extreme circumstances that involve a failure to act in accordance with their legal responsibilities of prudence and care, trustees may be legally liable for a financial loss by the church.
Trustee names, contact details and dates of birth must be registered with the Charity Commission. Trustees are publicly named on the Charity Commission website.
Under both Anglican and Charities Law PCC members have hugely important leadership roles within the church. PCC members are required and expected to work together to follow a Christ-centred agenda, and are expected individually to model the biblical principles of discipleship and servant leadership and to take an active role within the church.
There is no set number of times that the PCC meets, although four per year would be the minimum. In early 2014 the PCC conducted a review of its own role and processes. This led to a decision that there would normally be six meetings per year. Dates are normally set and advised at the start of each calendar year.
Certain routine business and authority is delegated to a Standing Committee that meets most months. From time to time work parties or sub-groups of 3 people or so are set up to deal with specific issues: e.g. a major refurbishment project. Such delegations are intended to allow the PCC as a whole to concentrate on broader, strategic matters – of policy and direction rather than operational detail.
Officers are elected annually to carry special responsibilities: the secretary, treasurer, and lay vice-chair. The secretary and treasurer are each year re-elected to the Standing Committee.
Anyone on the electoral roll, provided they are not barred from becoming a charity trustee, is eligible to stand for election. We follow best practice in relation to Safeguarding and this may involve PCC members being asked to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service certificate. We like to have a fair representation of the life of the church – by age and gender, with differing experiences as Christians in the community and workplace.
For further reading:
Joining Deanery Synod
A briefing from Parish and People in conjunction with the Church House Deaneries Group (CHDG).
The Functions of a Deanery Synod are set out in paragraph 5 of the Synodical Government Measure 1969 viz. 1) to
consider matters concerning the CofE and to make provision for such matters in relation to their deanery, and to
consider and express their opinion on any other matters of religious or public interest; 2) to bring together the views of
the parishes of the deanery on common problems, to discuss and formulate common policies on those problems, to
foster a sense of community and interdependence among those parishes, and generally to promote in the deanery the
whole mission of the Church, evangelistic, social and ecumenical; 3) to consider the business of the Diocesan Synod,
and particularly any matters referred to that synod by the General Synod, and to sound parochial opinion whenever
they are required or consider it appropriate to do so.
Roles and responsibilities of Deanery Synod members: a working hand list (compiled by Canon Alan Wilson of the
People serve on Deanery Synods as parish delegates, or as licensed or beneficed clergy or as members of other
synodical bodies. Their other work brings its own responsibilities but, as members of the Deanery Synod, they are
there to work in collaboration with the Bishop, diocesan officers, other members, rural/area dean and officers of the
Deanery to forward the mission of the Church. This involves a commitment to:
1. Live and grow as a disciple of Jesus Christ, sustained by word and sacrament within the fellowship of the worshipping Church;
Represent the best interests of the parish on the Deanery Synod, by all means available, including turning up to meetings! Be a point of contact between deanery and parish, participating fully in the life of the PCC, and remembering that a prime purpose of the deanery is to support and enable work in parishes, but not to direct it.
Help develop forward looking deanery projects to support the parishes in their local mission and ministry.
Collaborate in the development, monitoring and implementation of deanery mission plans, including discerning the appropriate level at which work can most effectively be undertaken.
Take an interest in the healthy and effective functioning of sector ministries within the deanery.
Elect and support the officers of the deanery, treasurer, lay chair, secretary and Standing Committee, and to contribute to the shaping of deanery synod agendas.
Support the mission of the Church by prayer and personal example; to seek out and support good practice in collaboration between parishes and ecumenically. To promote honest and harmonious working relationships throughout the Church in the deanery.
Seek out ways of linking into the structures of society within which the deanery is set, including local government. To participate fully in the corporate life of the area in Christ's name, seeking new ways of understanding and communicating with its communities and people.
Inform themselves of issues under discussion at diocesan and national levels.
Act as electors to diocesan and General Synods.
Work to grow cultures of generosity and genuine stewardship within the Church, which honour and develop the gifts and ministry resources of all.
Take an interest in relationships which link what is going on locally into the diocese and the world church.