Welcome to our page for churchwardens.
The cartoon above is courtesy of Dave Walker and Church Times. Click the image to see the full cartoon.
This page is designed to assist you in better fulfilling your vital role. If there is anything you need which you cannot find, please contact your Area Dean, Parish Development Adviser or Archdeacon. As a diocese, we are very grateful for all that our churchwardens do.
Good parishes have strong mutually respectful relationships between incumbents and the churchwardens.
Watch a video from Bishop Steven thanking our churchwardens and explaining how your role fits in with the common vision of the diocese.
Thank you for considering the role of churchwarden. So, what is involved in being a churchwarden? In the document below, we have brought together some information about the role and what it entails. We hope it contains enough information to help you in your thinking about whether to take this on.
You may have seen others fulfilling this role in various different ways, and might see these as being a hard act to follow! To help you, we are delighted to be able to include thoughts on the role from two experienced churchwardens who will give you an insight into what it is like doing the job.
Information for those considering the role of churchwarden can be found in this leaflet from the Diocese of Oxford. The information is designed to help people who are considering the role of churchwarden. If that's you, or someone you know, we hope and pray that this leaflet is helpful in discerning God's call to serve church and community in this way.
What is the process?
Once you have decided to offer yourself as a Churchwarden in your benefice, you will need to be nominated by two members of the church electoral roll or the local government register of electors for the parish concerned. There is a churchwarden nomination form for this which should be presented at the Vestry meeting usually held at the same time as the APCM, and then kept by the PCC Secretary for PCC files. This document is not needed by the Archdeacons office.
Once appointed you will need to be sworn into this role at a Visitation Service held usually in May or June, following the Annual Parochial Church Meetings (APCM). It is preferable that you attend your relevant Deanery/Archdeaconry Visitation Service but if this is not possible you may attend another Visitation service within your Archdeaconry or even another Archdeaconry to be sworn in. If, in exceptional circumstances, you are unable to attend any of these services, you can be sworn in privately by the Area Dean or Archdeacon.
You will need to complete a Churchwardens declaration form prior to the Visitation service and either send this to your Area Dean administrator, or Archdeaconry Office, or bring it to the relevant service. This signed declaration confirms that you are taking up this official post and that you are not disqualified from doing so under any conditions of the Churchwardens Measure 2001. This declaration also gives us permission to use and store your data under GDPR regulations, and we use this to ensure we have your correct details in the Diocesan Contact Management System (CMS), for relevant Diocesan mailings to Churchwardens.
The Visitation Service is a formal service with legal elements, but it is also a time to celebrate the role and work of all Churchwardens and a time for social interaction with fellow Churchwardens, the Area Deans and your Archdeacon or Associate Archdeacon. It is a requirement that all churchwardens receive leadership training, which should be arranged shortly after taking office.
Churchwardens have important legal responsibilities, but the office also has a vital spiritual, pastoral and missional dimension - the duty is to be foremost among the laity in the life and mission of the Church in the parish.
Churchwardens are some of the most senior lay leaders of the church and every parish is entitled to appoint two churchwardens. They are elected in accordance with the Churchwardens Measure 2001, at the Vestry meeting at which anyone in the Parish can attend, which is usually held at the same time as the APCM.
The post of churchwarden, one of the oldest elected offices in the country dating back to the 13th century, and their role, is governed by Canon E1 which states 'the churchwarden shall discharge such duties as are by law and custom assigned to them; they shall be foremost in representing the laity and in co-operating with the incumbent; they shall 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.
They shall also maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the time of divine service.' This document on the role of churchwardens may be helpful and you might want to read it in conjunction with this leaflet. You can also find useful diocesan contacts for churchwardens here.
Churchwardens are sworn in annually by the archdeacon, or in the case of an Episcopal Visitation (usually every three years), by the bishop. Visitation Services usually take place in May or June.
The Visitation Service is a formal service with legal elements, but it is also a time to celebrate and give thanks for the role and work of all churchwardens and a time of fellowship with fellow Churchwardens, the Area Deans and your Archdeacon or Associate Archdeacon. Details of annual visitation services for each archdeaconry can be found here.
Useful documents are:
- Visitation news - summer 2022
- Canon E1
- Churchwarden Nomination Form
- Churchwarden Declaration Form
- Churchwardens Yearbook 2024
Churchwardens are required to assist the Archdeacon, or Area Dean, with parish inspections every three years where terrier and inventory, PCC minutes, Health and Safety policies, and safeguarding policies are inspected as well as the interior and exterior condition of the church building and grounds.
Faculties and the DAC
Articles of enquiry
These are a set of questions which give you the opportunity to help the Archdeacons to form a picture of how things are in our parishes, and what support the diocese may be able to offer. Churchwardens are responsible for completing the Articles of Enquiry each year. These are currently included in the Parish Returns. To submit your Articles of Enquiry data, please visit the Parish Returns System. If you have difficulty accessing this website, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The benefice in vacancy
In any vacancy churchwardens have a key role to play. Advice for handling a vacancy can be found on the dedicated page and there is a presentation on vacancies in the training section below. Further information can be provided by your Parish Development Adviser or the Bishop's or Archdeacon's office.
We have put together a suite of online training resources, which we hope you will find of interest.
The role of the Churchwarden
The Archdeacon of Buckingham talks us through the key roles and responsibilities of being a churchwarden
Working with the clergy
A brief insight from Peter Groves, Assistant Archdeacon of Oxford and vicar of St Mary Magdalen, Oxford, into how churchwardens and clergy work together.
Vacancies and Clergy Appointments
In this short video Gill Lovell, former Parish Development Adviser for Buckingham, explains the process and practicalities of managing a vacancy
Flourishing Together in Church Leadership
Here is the recently published document for leaders in the local church
Disciples Together – engaging with children and families
The Disciples Together page on the diocesan website provides further information and resources
Health and Safety in church
This link takes you to the Ecclesiastical Insurance Group webpage on H&S in a church setting
Churchwardens, vocation and mission
Andrea Russell, former Director of Formation, talks about the role and vocation of a churchwarden
DAC and Faculties
Information on the role of the DAC, faculties and the online faculty system
Introduction to Generous Giving
A presentation from Joshua Townson, the Generous Giving Adviser, into how parishes can promote giving and what resources are available
The role and function of the PCC
Further information on PCCs, APCMs and a link to the church representation rules can be found here.
Growing New Congregations
A short film introducing the new congregations programme with 3 stories from across the diocese of growing God’s Kingdom
- Churchwardens and conflict management
A short video conversation between two members of the diocesan Conflict Transformation Network.
- A rural perspective on the role of churchwarden
An interview between the parish development advisor for the Dorchester archdeaconry and the churchwarden of St Michael and All Angels, Lambourn.
- Cost of Living related presentations were given at the Oxford and Dorchester churchwardens' training in March 2023 and included: 'Income during a cost of living crisis' from the Generous Giving Adviser, Joshua Townson, and 'Caring for Creation' presented by Hannah Mann, the Environment Programme Manager
The usual pattern for training in the Oxford and Dorchester Archdeaconries tends to include the following in person sessions alongside the online training:
- Refresher training for churchwardens with speakers on certain aspects of the role on a weekday evening usually in the Spring
- Training morning for new churchwardens – with a keynote speaker, and individual workshops in different aspects of the role - on a Saturday morning usually in the Autumn
All Area Offices will circulate details of training events during the year.
The excellent Guide to experiencing God’s presence in your church building gives guidance, advice and sample text to enable you to create a guide for visitors to your church outside service times. Order your free copy from Church House by emailing email@example.com or download from the diocesan website.
Details on the Churchwarden's Yearbook 2023 can be found here.
Useful Contacts for Churchwardens can be found here
“Practical Church Management” by Behrens (Gracewing)
“A Handbook for Churchwardens and Parochial Church Councillors” by MacMorran & Briden (Continuum)
“An ABC for the PCC” by Pitchford (Bloomsbury)