Chapter 1: Parish Governance

1.  The Parish

Background

The disestablishment of the Church in Wales in 1920 and social changes in Wales have resulted in so many changes that a simple equation of parish and township is a relic of times long past.  Yet in the Anglican Province of Wales, everyone lives in a parish although the form that a parish takes varies from one area to another. The parish is probably best defined generally as:
“…an area under the spiritual care of a cleric (the ‘Incumbent’ or, in the correct meaning of the word, the ‘curate’) to whose religious ministrations all its inhabitants are entitled” this is sometimes known as the ‘Cure of Souls’.
However this is not an all encompassing definition.  The form of the parish may be that of the traditional unit of an area with a parish church (perhaps with one or more ‘daughter churches’) under the care of an Incumbent.  If such a parish is an ancient foundation, the Incumbent may be called the ‘Rector’ if the ancient predecessors were in receipt of the tithe income of the parish and the ‘Vicar’ if the tithes were paid to, for example, a monastery and one of the monks was appointed by the Abbot to act vicariously i.e. in the Abbot’s stead.  Whilst this is of historic interest, tithing, in its ancient sense, ceased to exist in Wales at disestablishment in 1920 and there is now no distinction between the two titles in a historic parish.
Such historic parishes have become increasingly subject to change by grouping, division, and re-arrangement to meet changing social circumstances and this has resulted in a varied pattern of parochial provision in which ‘The Parish’ can mean an administrative area organised in several different ways.  A detailed definition for current use is to be found in Chapter 1 of The Constitution of the Church in Wales (hereafter referred to as ‘the Constitution’).

Definitions of a Parish

  1. An Historic Parish with a Parish Church and, possibly, one or more daughter churches.
  2. A United Parish in which two or more historic parishes have been joined into one parish with one or more of the existing churches designated as the parish church or churches. This would happen by Diocesan Decree, and on its formation, the new United Parish will assume the responsibilities of the former parishes which are themselves declared obsolete. The former Parochial Church Councils (PCCs) are disbanded and a new PCC is formed which assumes responsibility for the entire area covered by the former parishes.  The Constitution allows for one or more churches to be declared to be parish churches in the United Benefice. Where there is more than one church building in the parish, two qualified electors can be designated as Sub-wardens for the church they normally attend. The Sub-wardens qualify as ex-officio members of the PCC of the parish.  The uniting of parishes would normally be appropriate when, for example, a parish administration is no longer viable or the church in a parish has been closed. The PCCs of the parishes involved would have the opportunity to discuss the proposal that their parishes should be united.  The new larger parish is usually referred to as a United Parish that can exist either as a single parish benefice or be grouped with one or more other parishes.
  3. A Group of Parishes in which a number of parishes share the ministry of one Incumbent but remain as separate parishes in terms of administration, accounts etc. A group of parishes in the care of one Incumbent is referred to as a Grouped Benefice.
  4. A Rectorial Benefice in which a number of parishes or parts of parishes combine as a new parochial unit, generally staffed by a team of clerics. The Incumbent is given the title Rector (not to be confused with the ancient meaning of that title) with the assistance of the other clerics who are licensed by the Bishop and given the title of Vicar.  There may also be assistant-curates appointed to the team of a Rectorial Benefice.
  5. Cathedrals  – In the Church in Wales, Diocesan Cathedrals may also function as Cathedral Parishes, in which case the appointment of a Dean carries with it the appointment as Vicar of the Cathedral Parish. The Cathedral Chapter shares with the PCC responsibility for such matters as determined by the separate Scheme for each Cathedral in The Constitution. The requirements for a parochial administrative structure still apply and it will be the duty of the Dean and Chapter and the PCC to co-operate in all matters of joint concern.
  6. A Conventional District is a particular area where the Bishop of the Diocese may not  wish to appoint a cleric as Incumbent of a parish or group of parishes and instead appoints the cleric as Priest-in-charge.  Such an area may later be accorded full parish status.

Obligations of a Parish

Whichever form a particular parish might take, there are certain obligations and requirements which it has to fulfil as follows:

  1. It must agree to comply fully with the provisions of The Constitution of the Church in Wales.
  2. It must keep an Electoral Roll.
  3. It must hold an Annual Vestry Meeting.
  4. It must appoint two Churchwardens.
  5. It must appoint a Parochial Church Council by election at the Annual Vestry Meeting.
  6. It must appoint Sidespersons2.

Duties of Officers

The duties of the various officers will be described in other sections of this publication.  However, the definitive source for these always remains that of the provisions of The Constitution (in particular Chapter IVC of the Constitution) and all persons appointed to a parochial office or post should acquire a copy from the Provincial Office. (It is also available online at the Church in Wales website.)

2. Electoral Roll

Every parish must have an Electoral Roll which is to be revised annually and renewed every five years. Inclusion on this Electoral Roll qualifies parishioners to vote and hold office within the Church in Wales.  Chapter IVC of the Constitution has specific requirements regarding the Electoral Roll as follows:

  1. availability for inspection (Chapter IVC Regulation 7);
  2. compliance (Chapter IVC Regulation 7) ;
  3. appeals against refusal to include names on the Roll (Chapter IVC section 6);
  4. objections against inclusion of names (Chapter IVC section 7) ;
  5. retention and safe keeping (Chapter IVC Regulation 9).

In addition Sections 4 to 7 of Chapter IVC of the Constitution set out the basic administrative requirements which relate to the Electoral Roll.  These include:

  1. Standard Application Form (see page 9, below)
  2. Eligibility
  3. PCC Management (by annual review and five yearly renewal)

 

Eligibility

Chapter IVC, Section 4(2) of the Constitution states that a lay person who is over 16 is eligible, provided that the person:

  1. is a communicant member of the Church in Wales;
  2. is resident in the parish or, if not so resident, has habitually attended public worship in that parish during a period of six months prior to enrolment;
  3. has signed the appropriate application form;
  4. is not included on the Roll of any other parish in Wales, except with the consent of the Parochial Church Councils of both parishes;
  5. is not a member of any religious body which is not in Communion with the Church in Wales without the written dispensation of the Diocesan Bishop.

Removal from the Electoral Roll

A person’s name shall he removed if that person:

  1. has died;
  2. has become a Clerk in Holy Orders;
  3. requests in writing that the name be removed;
  4. becomes a member of a religious body not in communion with the Church in Wales and does not have the dispensation from the Bishop referred to above, or having had it, has it withdrawn;
  5. ceases to reside in the parish, unless the person continues habitually to attend public worship in the parish;
  6. if not resident in the parish, has ceased to attend public worship in the parish during the previous six months, except when prevented from attending due to illness or other sufficient cause;
  7. has been included on the Roll of any other parish, except with the consent of the Parochial Church Councils of both parishes;
  8. was not eligible initially.

Management of the Electoral Roll

The Parochial Church Council is responsible for the management of the Electoral Roll and should receive reports on actions required and taken. It may be useful to appoint a small Electoral Roll Committee or an Electoral Roll Officer to carry out the revision and to report to the PCC on its conclusions.

Annual Revision

The Electoral Roll must be revised annually prior to the Vestry meeting (which may be considered to be the equivalent of a secular organisation’s Annual General Meeting).

  1. A copy of the Electoral Roll and notice of intention to revise it shall be displayed near the principal door of each church in the parish for at least 14 days before the annual revision begins.
  2. The revision shall be completed not less than 15 days prior to the Annual Vestry meeting and should be displayed near the principal door of each church in the parish for at least 15 days before that meeting. (In practical terms this means that the process of revision should therefore begin at least 5 weeks before the Annual Vestry meeting.)

New Electoral Roll

The Constitution requires each PCC to completely renew the Electoral Roll every 5 years (most recently in 2010).   To facilitate this you will need to do the following:

  1. notice of intention to prepare the new Roll should be displayed on the principal door of every church in the parish for at least 15 days beforehand;
  2. the preparation of the new Electoral Roll should be supervised by the PCC;
  3. all those people wishing to have their names included on the Electoral Roll need to make an application. This includes all those whose names appeared on the previous Electoral Roll;
  4. a copy of the new Electoral Roll must be displayed near the principal door of every church in the parish for at least fifteen days before the Annual Vestry Meeting.

In addition to its administrative and ‘constitutional’ necessity this 5 yearly exercise is a valuable pastoral monitor since it provides both the Incumbent and PCC with an assessment of ‘membership’.

A copy of the Electoral Roll Application Form may be downloaded here

3.  Annual Vestry Meeting

Background

The Annual Vestry Meeting is the equivalent of the Annual General Meeting of the Parish. Because the parishioners originally met in the church vestry to transact the business of the parish, the word Vestry came to be applied both to the body of parishioners and to the meeting itself.
In preparing for the Annual Vestry Meeting of the Parish, the following checklist may be useful:

  1. The meeting should be held no later than 30 April
  2. Notice of the meeting should be displayed near the principal door of each church in the parish and of every other building in the parish used for public worship and belonging to the Church in Wales for a period covering the two Sundays immediately beforehand (together with copies of the accounts; see Chapter IVC, Regulation 12 of the Constitution for more information). Notice of the meeting should be announced at principal services during this period.

The Constitution specifically outlines the scope of the Annual Vestry Meeting (see Chapter IVC, section 1).
In the Constitution, the following sections of Chapter IVC relate to Vestry meetings:

  1. Section 2 – refers to additional meetings and congregational meetings.
  2. Regulation 2  – details of Notice of the Meeting and its display.
  3. Regulation 2 – identifies the Chairman.
  4. Regulation 4 – details those having a right to attend and vote; those having a right to attend and not vote; and the attendance of observers.
  5. Regulation 3 – dispute of rights to attend and right of appeal.
  6. Section 1 – the nature of the business that the Vestry meeting should receive and discuss.
  7. Section 1 – the elections of parish officials and also the appointment of the auditor.

Preparation

Notice of the Annual Vestry Meeting together with a copy of the Agenda (see examples at the end of this section) should be displayed near the principal door of each church in the parish and of every other building in the parish used for public worship and belonging to the Church in Wales for a period covering the two Sundays immediately preceding the Vestry meeting.  Oral notice of the meeting should be given at the principal services in the parish during this period.

The Business of the Meeting

The business of the Annual Vestry Meeting covers three main headings:

  1. The Parochial Church Council Annual Report and Financial Statements (in accordance with the provisions of the Charities Acts);
  2. Other reports in as far as they are not included in the PCC Annual Report;
  3. Elections.

(Note: It is good practice to make written reports widely available beforehand so that they can be studied by those who will attend the Vestry meeting.)

The Parochial Church Council Annual Report and Financial Statements

The PCC Annual Report must contain such information as is required under the provisions of the Charities Acts; it must be accompanied by Financial Statements whose form and content is similarly established under the Charities Acts; and to the Financial Statements must be attached either an Independent Examination Report or an Audit Report.  All three documents must be issued together and never published individually.  The calendar year is the financial year for all PCCs so the Annual Report and Financial Statements presented at the Vestry meeting should cover the year to 31 December of the preceding year.  The format and content of these reports depend upon the size of the PCC’s finances:  see Chapter 3 of this Handbook, the ACAT Handbook and the Church in Wales Accounting Regulations for further details.

Other reports

In as far as some matters are not dealt with in the PCC Annual Report, other reports could include:

  1. The Mission of the Church.  The Incumbent refers to pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical matters over the past year, not only in relation to parochial strategy, but also that strategy in relation to the diocese and the wider Church. It may be that the report should also look forward and refer to plans for these areas for the forthcoming year.
  2. Administration.  Administrative matters are often dealt with by members with special responsibilities, for example, for the Electoral Roll, fabric, parochial insurances, child protection, health and safety and similar matters.
  3. Other Matters.  These should include reports on issues of wider concern including proceedings at Deanery and Diocesan Conference as well as the Church in Wales’s Representative Body and Governing Body meetings and any reports requested by the PCC.

Elections

Chapter IVC, Section 1 of the Constitution gives details of the elections which should take place at the Annual Vestry Meeting.  A summary may be found in Section 5(vi) later in this Chapter of the Handbook.  The following points should be noted:

  1. No person should be elected unless their consent to nomination has been received (not least because of the possibility of a situation arising such as the one outlined in point 4, below).
  2. All those elected to the PCC must be over 18 years of age, properly entered on the Electoral Roll and must make the declaration prescribed by the Constitution. Churchwardens must also make a further declaration.
  3. It should be noted, particularly with regard to the PCC, that all places are open for re-election and not just specific vacancies.
  4. It is also worth remembering that pastoral sensitivity should be shown towards those who may not be eligible for election to the PCC because of the trustee responsibility of members. People who may be barred for this reason include individuals who are undischarged bankrupts, disqualified company directors or others barred from trusteeship by the Charity Commission.  When the parish is required to register with the Charity Commission, it will be necessary to provide the name, address, maiden name and date of birth of each member of the Parochial Church Council, and each member will need to sign a trustee declaration.

The order in which posts should be elected is outlined in the Constitution (Chapter IVC, Section 1). The order is also noted in subsection 5(iii), below. As soon as possible after the Vestry Meeting the Secretary is required to inform the appropriate person as indicated below of elections at that Vestry Meeting:

  1. The Archdeacon – the names and addresses of the churchwardens.
  2. The Area Dean – the names and addresses of those elected to the Deanery Conference.
  3. The Secretary of the Diocesan Conference – the names and addresses of those elected to the Diocesan Conference, where appropriate.
  4. The Secretary of the Diocesan Board of Nomination – the names and address of those elected to serve on the Diocesan Board of Nomination.

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4.  Churchwardens

Introduction

The office of churchwarden dates from the 13th Century.  The primary function of the office at that time seems to have been that of taking care of the Church building and its contents on behalf of the parishioners.  In the course of time other duties were added, and churchwardens are recognised in the Constitution as officers of the Bishop of the diocese, responsible to him for the proper carrying out of their responsibilities.
Throughout their long history, churchwardens have provided an example of the advantages of lay participation in the life and work of a parish.  When the Parochial Church Council was brought into being in Wales in 1921, it assumed many of the duties previously associated with the office of churchwarden, particularly in regard to financial affairs and the maintenance of the fabric of the church.

Appointment

  1. 1. Every parish has two churchwardens.  They must be over the age of 18 and not more than 75.
  2. One is elected by the Annual Vestry Meeting; the other is appointed at that meeting by the Incumbent (the consent of each having been previously obtained).
  3. The names of those elected or appointed must be on the Electoral Roll of the parish.
  4. Churchwardens need not be members of the congregation of the parish church in a parish with more than one church.
  5. If the living is vacant at the time of the Annual Vestry Meeting the appointment of one churchwarden may be made by the Area Dean.  If a Priest-in-Charge is looking after the Parish he or she makes the appointment.
  6. By custom churchwardens are admitted to office at the Visitation of the Bishop or the Archdeacon after reading and signing the prescribed Declaration.
    “I (Christian name and Surname) declare that that I am a Communicant over eighteen years of age and that my name is properly entered on the Electoral Roll of the Parish of …, that I will faithfully and diligently perform the duties of Churchwarden of such Parish during my year of office, and that I agree to accept and obey any decisions of the Bishop or Diocesan Chancellor as to my right at any time to hold the office of Churchwarden”

    If there is good and sufficient reason why a churchwarden-elect cannot attend the Visitation, the Archdeacon may appoint someone else before whom the Declaration may be made.

  7. If a churchwarden wishes to resign at a time other than at the Annual Vestry Meeting, he or she does so in writing to the Bishop.  A vacancy (however caused) may be filled at a specially summoned Vestry Meeting.
  8. After serving for 6 consecutive years a churchwarden may not be re-elected or re-appointed for the year following.  If difficulty is foreseen in complying with his rule the Archdeacon may issue a dispensation.

Duties

  1. The office of churchwarden relates to and represents the whole parish, including daughter churches or other churches within a rectorial benefice.
  2. As Bishop’s officers the churchwardens should be in attendance on the Bishop whenever he visits the parish.
  3. In the case of any difficulty which cannot be resolved by the Incumbent and PCC they may deal directly with the Bishop.
  4. All their duties will normally be undertaken in co-operation with the Incumbent.
  5. Each year the Incumbent and churchwardens will provide the answers to the Form of Enquiry about the affairs of the Parish, sent out prior to the Bishop’s or Archdeacon’s Visitation.

Together the Incumbent and churchwardens are responsible for completing and keeping up to date three important records, which are supplied to each Parish by the Representative Body.  They are:

    1. A Log Book containing the date and nature of every repair, restoration, alteration, addition or decoration in respect of each church in the Parish.
    2. A Terrier, or land record, describing all parcels of land belonging to each church and every other building in the parish used for public worship and belonging to the Church in Wales.
    3. The Inventory listing the description and origin of all furnishings, fixtures and contents of any church.  In the case of a gift the name of the donor should be included.

Additions and amendments to the Log Book, Terrier and Inventory must be communicated in writing to the Representative Body. These documents should be kept in the church safe.

(See Chapter 2, Section 1A(v) for more details.) If exceptional circumstances require, it is customary for a churchwarden to lead worship in a church, using either the Ministry of the Word from the Holy Eucharist service or Morning or Evening Prayer in the Prayer Book.  The readings would suitably be those appointed in the Church in Wales Lectionary or Church in Wales Alternative Lectionary which also indicates an appropriate Psalm.  This information is set out for each Sunday and Holy Day of the year.

Responsibilities During a Vacancy in an Incumbency

  1. The churchwardens check the Inventory and report to the Representative Body and the Archdeacon.
  2. As Bishop’s officers, they have the authority to exercise a proper and important lay leadership, though this will normally be subject to consultation with the Area Dean.
  3. With the Area Dean they are responsible for looking after the empty parsonage as custodians (the Constitution Chapter VII, Regulations 12-18).
  4. The Area Dean will be responsible for arranging services, but the churchwardens are to ensure that necessary preparations are made in the church concerned for each service.  (Fees and expenses paid to visiting clerics for services authorised by the Bishop during a vacancy in the incumbency are not the responsibility of the parish.)

Sub-Wardens

In parishes with more than one church, a congregational meeting may nominate a qualified elector of the parish (see eligibility criteria under subsection (ii), above) for election at the Annual Vestry Meeting as sub-warden of the church which she or he normally attends, and the Incumbent shall then appoint another sub-warden.  The duties of sub-wardens are similar in the church for which they are appointed to those of the churchwardens, but they do not bear specific parochial responsibilities.

Sidespersons (known as Sidesmen in the Constitution)

Sidespersons (men or women) are elected at the Annual Vestry Meeting from those who are on the Electoral Roll of the parish, and are over 18 years of age (see Chapter IVC, Section 1  of the Constitution). There is no upper age limit. The total number of sidespersons to be elected is at the discretion of the Vestry. The sidesperson’s duties may be summarised as being support for the churchwardens (see Chapter IVC Regulation 16 of the Constitution). This will include preparing the church before a service and clearing up afterwards, helping to seat the congregation, taking the collection and generally preserving order.

5.  The Parochial Church Council

Background

The Constitution’s frequent reference to the Parochial Church Council (PCC) indicates its important role in the life of the Parish.  The PCC is accountable to the Annual Vestry Meeting, and it is a further requirement of the Constitution that the Incumbent and the PCC consult and co-operate in all matters of concern.  The affairs of a Parish are therefore a joint responsibility.  The PCC is required to meet at least four times in every year.
It should also be remembered that PCC members are charity trustees and thus have certain responsibilities in charity law (in addition to the requirements of the Constitution).  This status is not dependent upon whether or not the parish itself has been required to register with the Charity Commission (see subsection (v), below).

Functions

The Constitution of the Church in Wales defines the functions and powers of a PCC. The principal function of the PCC is “promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.” PCC Members, therefore, have significant responsibilities for the local mission of the Church.  These shall include:

  1. the promotion of the mission of the Church in the parish;
  2. consideration of matters concerning the Church in Wales (but not declarations of  doctrine);
  3. propagation and implementation of decisions by the Governing Body, the Representative Body, the Diocesan and the Deanery Conference;
  4. the preparation of the parochial budget, annual accounts and an annual report;
  5. providing advice on matters properly referred to it;
  6. communication with Diocesan and Deanery Conference;
  7. review and reimbursement of parish expenses incurred by clerics (see also chapter 3 of this Handbook);
  8. discharge of duties placed on the Council by the Church Fabric Regulations (chapter 2, section 1A of this Handbook).

The PCC’s responsibilities are not limited to the eight areas set out above. Specific mention is made (Chapter IVC section 8(4)) that, with the exception of Special Trusts and the Incumbent’s discretionary fund, parish finance should be under the control of the PCC. The PCC is a channel of communication between the parishioners and the Bishop.

Administration

Rules and Regulations
Subject to the Constitution (see Chapter IVC, Section 12 for more details), the PCC shall make rules for its own procedures.
Declaration:
All lay members before taking office shall sign a standard form showing this declaration:

“I (Christian name and Surname) declare that I am a Communicant over eighteen years of age and that my name is properly entered on the electoral roll of this Parish, that I will faithfully and diligently perform my duties as a Parochial Church Councillor during my year of office, and that I agree to accept and be bound by the Constitution of the Church in Wales. (Chapter 1VC, Section 11 of the Constitution)

Membership
The Parochial Church Council has three categories of members (for further details see Chapter IVC, Section 9 of the Constitution):

  1. ex officio: clerics holding parochial appointment, full time stipendiary lay workers, churchwardens and sub-wardens, if appointed
  2. elected: lay persons elected at the Annual Vestry Meeting up to such number, to a maximum of twenty five, as the Vestry shall determine
  3. co-opted:  Secretary and Treasurer, if not in the above categories; not exceeding seven lay persons or clerics (other than retired clerics) as determined by the PCC; such licensed readers as the PCC may determine.

The number of clerics shall in no case exceed the number of lay members.
Appointments
For further details about appointments see Chapter IVC Section 12, and Regulations 11 and 12 of the Constitution. However the main appointments which the PCC can make are as follows:

  1. Treasurer (if needed committees including a Finance Committee can be established).
  2. A Secretary who also serves as Secretary of the Annual Vestry Meeting. The Secretary’s duties will include keeping minutes of PCC and Vestry Meetings and issuing notices regarding Vestry Meetings as referred to in section 3 of this Chapter.

 

Check List

  1. Annual appointment of Secretary and Treasurer
  2. Appoint committees as agreed by the PCC
  3. Signing of Declaration by all lay members
  4. Annual Report to Vestry

Congregational Meeting

Parishes with more than one church may find it helpful to have a congregational meeting in each church which may select a Church Committee to deal with matters concerning that particular church.  While such committees can improve the efficient running of a parish, it must always be remembered that they cannot replace the authority vested either in the PCC or the Incumbent and churchwardens.

Accountability and Trustee Responsibility

The PCC reports to the Annual Vestry Meeting on all its activities.  However, members of the PCC also have legal responsibilities as charity trustees.  PCCs have been recognised as charities in England and Wales for many years. The basic responsibilities of PCC members, as charity trustees, have not changed significantly for some time regardless of whether or not the PCC (due to income thresholds) is required to register with the Charity Commission.
In addition to the functions set out in (ii) above, PCC Members are responsible for their local parish’s aims and direction, its mission and vision, finances and the employment of any staff.  Trustees must recognise that they have accepted a particular responsibility and are accountable for it.   It is therefore imperative that all PCCs have good governance and recognize a duty of prudence.  The PCC must:

  1. be clear about its purposes, mission and values, and use them to direct all aspects of its work;
  2. have adopted structures, policies and procedures which enable it to achieve its mission and aims and meet its objectives efficiently;
  3. see sound governance as an important part of its stewardship and have the  appropriate procedures in place;
  4. manage and use its resources (including finance, skills, knowledge, experience and assets) to plan and budget effectively, monitored by periodic reviews;
  5. hold accountability and transparency as key values, recognising that it is accountable to wider constituents. It must communicate effectively, explaining its activities and decisions in an open and transparent way whilst maintaining confidentiality where appropriate;
  6. be flexible enough to adapt to change appropriately to increase its effectiveness in meeting its core object of promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church;
  7. act with integrity, and in accordance with its values and keep the parish informed of the PCC’s activities and financial position;
  8. ensure that the PCC is and will remain solvent which means that charitable funds and assets must be used cautiously and only to further the purposes and interests of the PCC. Trustees have a duty to avoid undertaking activities that might place the PCC’s property, funds, assets or reputation at undue risk.

Conflict of Interest PCC members may occasionally find themselves in a situation where there is a conflict of interest.  This is any situation in which a PCC member’s personal interests, or interests which they owe to another body person or party, appear to be inconsistent with those of the PCC.   A conflict may arise where a decision has to be made in relation to the appointment of a person or organisation for the provision of a particular service which in some way is connected to a member of the PCC. Other common situations in which conflicts may arise are when there is a direct financial gain or benefit, and indirect financial gain or benefit, a non-financial gain, or a conflict of loyalties.  In such instances the individual PCC member(s) with the connection should declare their interest and desist from being part of the discussion or the final decision making. Even the appearance of a conflict of interest can damage the PCC’s reputation and as such conflicts need to be managed carefully.  Further information and guidance can be found on the Charity Commission website.

Duty of Care Trustees must exercise reasonable care and skill as trustees, using personal knowledge and experience to ensure that the PCC is well-run and efficient.  They must take special care when investing  funds and obtain external professional advice on all matters where there may be material risk to the charity, or where the trustees may be in breach of their duties.   To fulfil these responsibilities the trustees must make sure that they keep up to date with all PCC activities and meet regularly enough to make any decisions needed.

Accounts All PCCs are required to prepare annual accounts, and report on their work. Those who become registered charities will need to return copies of these, and annual returns to the Charity Commission. Regardless of registration all PCCs are required to send a copy of their annual financial statements to their diocese.

Other Documentation All registered PCCs will need to state that they are a registered charity on their letterheads and on many of their financial documents, quoting their charity number.

Other duties and compliance matters The PCC trustees are advised to access the Charity Commission website at www.charity-commission.gov.uk for further guidance on trustee duties and responsibilities.

Triennial Elections

Representatives are elected every third year for a three year term of office to various diocesan and deanery bodies.  These include:

  • Diocesan Board of Nomination (where appropriate).  Two lay representatives are elected by the PCC as required (Chapter VI, Regulation 1.1 to 1.5 of the Constitution). When it is the turn of the Board of Nomination to nominate to a vacancy in their own parish the representatives will be required to attend the Board and will be full voting members.
  • Deanery Conference. The number of representatives to be elected is determined by the Diocesan Conference.
  • Diocesan Conference and other bodies. Diocesan regulations will determine what elections are to be carried out at parochial level.

Both Deanery Conference and Diocesan Conference representation are elected by the Vestry meeting (Chapter IVC, Section 1).

Parochial Records

Parochial Church Councils and parish officers have a responsibility to document and record their actions properly.  Full records should be kept and all documents placed in a good filing system which is kept safe.  The PCC’s documents should be kept by its secretary.  When officers cease to hold office they should make sure that all documents they hold are given to the secretary so that they can be passed on to his / her successor in that post. It is possible that some data records may also fall within the remit of the 1998 Data Protection Act and this should also be a consideration.

Data Protection

The principles governing the protection of data were established by the Data Protection Act 1984. That Act has now been replaced by the 1998 Data Protection Act, (a copy of which can be accessed via the internet at http://www.hmso.gov.uk/acts/acts1998/19980029.htm). The rules say that anyone processing personal data must comply with the eight enforceable principles of good practice.  These are that “records and information should be:

  • fairly and lawfully processed;
  • processed for limited purposes;
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • accurate;
  • not kept longer than necessary;
  • processed in accordance with the data subject’s rights;
  • secure;
  • not transferred to countries without adequate protection.

Personal data covers both facts and opinions about the individual. It also includes information regarding the intentions of the data controller towards the individual, although in some limited circumstances exemptions will apply. With processing, the definition is far wider than before. For example, it incorporates the concepts of ‘obtaining’, holding’ and ‘disclosing'”. (Copyright © website of the Data Protection Registrar).

Archives

It is the policy of the Church in Wales that parochial records should be deposited in the local county council archives or in the National Library in Aberystwyth.  These bodies have only custody of such documents not ownership.  They may make copies for the parish’s use on request.  Please contact your diocesan archivist for advice on all matters relating to the storage of parochial records.

The Incumbent and Administration

Administrative efficiency in a parish serves something more important than simply keeping things ticking over smoothly.  Good administration should be related to the “promotion of the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical, in the parish”- which is how the task of the PCC is described in the Constitution (see Chapter IVC, Section 8(3)).  That means using theological, pastoral and spiritual insights to determine priorities.  It means a readiness to be involved in the, sometimes tedious, tasks to which lay people commit themselves for the sake of the church, and being able to trust lay officers to get on with their tasks without interference.  Good administration needs skills and training and encouragement so that the work of the whole body of the people of God can flow properly.  Both lay people and Incumbent need to be involved and should work as a team; however it is important to avoid confusion as to roles.