The Parochial Church Council
In the long history of the Church of England, the Parochial Church Council is a relatively recent invention. Until the early years of the 20th century the administration and finances of a parish were the legal responsibility of the incumbent and the churchwardens. The members of congregations had little say in the running of the church except in electing the churchwardens. Parochial Church Councils were first given legal status in 1919. Since then a number of Acts have defined and refined the composition, functions and rights and
Responsibilities of the PCC.
Currently the rules governing the PCC are set out in the Church Representation Rules
(CRR) 2006 [ISBN 0-7151-1012-8] which form part of the Synodical Government Measure 1969.
STATUS OF THE PCC
The PCC is a corporate body, a separate legal entity, and is therefore separate from the members of the PCC. For that reason, changes in the membership of the PCC should not result in any changes to contracts etc. entered into by previous members because it is the PCC, as a legal entity in its own right, which has entered into contracts. Another consequence is that individual PCC members should not become personally responsible for the liabilities of the PCC. The PCC is a charity by virtue of its objectives, which are basically the advancement of religion and the making of provision for public worship, and the members of the PCC are the trustees of the charity.
PCCs are not, at present, required to register with the Charity Commission as they are classified as excepted charities by virtue of the Charities (Exception from Registration) Regulations 1996. The regulations only remove the requirement to register (and therefore
submit accounts and returns to the Charity Commission) but PCCs must comply with all other aspects of charity law.
RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF THE PCC
The PCC has responsibility for a whole range of things including the care, maintenance and insurance of the church and its contents and the care and maintenance of the churchyard, responsibility for the conduct of the financial affairs of the parish, rights regarding women priests, rights in relation to church appointments, functions in relation to church services etc.
Guide for New PCC Members
It largely discharges its responsibility for the financial affairs of the parish by the appointment of a treasurer, but this does not absolve it of ultimate responsibility and for that reason the PCC should require the Treasurer to make regular reports on the financial position to PCC meetings.
The Charities Act 1993 and CRRs charge the trustees with the following specific duties in relation to finances:
The keeping of proper accounting records. This means records that show from day to day amounts received and expended, including the matters to which they relate, and a record of assets and liabilities. The records should be sufficient to show the financial position of the PCC at any time.
The preparation of annual financial statements and an annual report that complies with the CRRs and the Charities Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP)
Appointment of an independent examiner or auditor and making arrangements for the examination or audit to be carried out.
Presenting the annual report, financial statements and independent examiner’s or auditor’s report to the APCM and displaying those before and after the meeting.
As the annual report and financial statements are the responsibility of the PCC, the CRRs require them to be approved by the PCC and signed by the Chairman and one other PCC member before presentation to the APCM.
FUNCTIONS OF THE PCC
Under the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956 the PCC has the following functions:
co-operation with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical;
the consideration and discussion of matters concerning the Church of England or any other matters of religious or public interest, but not the declaration of the doctrine of the Church on any question;
making known and putting into effect any provisions made by the diocesan synod or the deanery synod, but without prejudice to the
powers of the council on any particular matter;
giving advice to the diocesan synod and the deanery synod on any matter referred to the council;
raising such matters as the council consider appropriate with the diocesan synod or deanery synod.
The Synodical Government Measure 1969 states:
It shall be the duty of the incumbent and the Parochial Church Council to consult together on matters of general concern and importance in the parish.
It then goes on to set out a number of functions of the PCC, of which perhaps the most important, and certainly the widest, is:
co-operation with the incumbent in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.
The incumbent and the PCC each have their own particular rights and responsibilities in the life of the church but the important theme here is partnership and co-operation.
More specifically, the PCC is responsible for the maintenance of the church buildings and churchyard, and, with the incumbent, for deciding how the church’s money is to be spent.
The PCC is formally the employer of any paid workers.
The PCC has the right to be consulted about major changes to the forms of worship used in the parish and about the appointment of a new incumbent. It is also consulted about any pastoral scheme affecting the parish.
PCC membership will include one or more members of the deanery synod, who have an important role in linking the parish into the wider structures of the church.
OFFICERS OF THE PCC
Every PCC shall have a:
Chairman – The minister of the parish shall be the chairman of the PCC.
Vice-Chairman– A lay member of the PCC shall be the vice-chairman.
Secretary – The PCC may appoint one of its members to act as Secretary. Failing such appointment some other fit person may act as Secretary but shall not thereby become a member of the PCC (unless co-opted)
Treasurer – The PCC may appoint one or more of its members to act as Treasurer either solely or jointly. Failing such appointment, the role should be carried out by the Churchwardens or some other fit person may act as Treasurer but shall not thereby become a member of the PCC (unless co-opted)
Electoral Roll Officer – Who may but need not be a member of the PCC.
TERM OF OFFICE
CRR 16 states that members of the PCC”…
shall hold office from the conclusion of the annual meeting at which they were elected until the conclusion of the third annual meeting thereafter, one third retiring and being elected each year … “
That said a PCC member may resign his/her membership by notice in writing sent or given to the PCC Secretary and the resignation shall take effect on the date specified in the notice or, if no date is specified, on receipt of the note by the PCC Secretary.
SIZE OF THE PCC
The size of the PCC depends on the size of the electoral roll. For less than 50 on the roll the PCC will be 6.
The PCC may also co-opt additional person up to one fifth of the elected members, or 2 whichever is the greater, being either clergy or laity. The term of office of a co-opted person shall be until the conclusion of the next annual meeting
MEETINGS OF THE PCC
PCCs may meet as often as they wish but must meet at least 4 times per year.
Except in an emergency or other special circumstance requiring immediate action, when not less that 3 days notice is required, members should receive at least 7 days notice of any meeting.
No business shall be transacted by the PCC unless at least one third of the members are present.
No business, which is not on the agenda, shall be transacted by the PCC unless at least three-quarters of the members present so agree.
Minutes of the meeting shall be made available to all members of the PCC and to any person with the specific approval of the PCC.
YOUR ROLE ON THE PCC
Your role on the PCC will depend on the needs of your particular parish and the specific skills, experience and attributes you bring to the PCC.
That said there are certain matters that should be common to all PCC members. You should make yourself aware of key facts about your church and the area which it serves.
What percentage of your local population comes to church? Why do many not come?
What are the needs of the local community? Can your church meet some of those needs?
Do you need to change as a church to meet those needs? What are the needs of your congregation? What is the financial and material state of your church?
In addition to local concerns you should keep yourself informed about Diocesan and National church matters so that you can let your Deanery representatives have your views
and comments when such matters come up for discussion.
Membership of the PCC can be daunting especially if you have been a member of your local church for many years but have never really understood what the PCC does or what is expected of you and perhaps now do not wish to ask other members of the PCC about your new role, so hopefully these notes will help.
The meeting must be held by 30 April and is commonly held immediately prior to the annual parochial church meeting. It is the last remnant of the old vestrymeeting
Since this is a public meeting, notice must be given in writing with the minimum period of two Sundays before the date of the meeting and the notice must be displayed publicly.
The meeting is convened and chaired by the minister (usually the incumbent or priest-in-charge), or if there is no minister or the if she or he is unable or unwilling to chair the meeting, the churchwardens convene, and the meeting elects a chairman.
Typically, the meeting’s structure is as follows:
- Opening statement by the chair, usually the parish priest
- Minutes of the previous annual vestry meeting
- Nominations for churchwardens have to have been handed to the minister before the meeting, in writing: he has the right to reject one of the nominees if he feels that person would be a difficulty
- Vote – only required if there are more applicants than posts available
- Meeting closes.
Attendees and voters. The following people may vote: People whose names are on the church electoral roll(whether or not they are resident in the church parish). People who are resident in the parish and who are also on the register of local government electors. Note this means any resident of the parish and who is registered to vote – of any faith or none.
A PCC consists of (i) the clergy of the parish, (ii) the churchwardens of the parish, (iv) members of the General Synod, diocesan synod or deanery synod who are on the roll of the parish, and (v) a number of representatives of the laity elected at the annual parochial church meeting to serve on the PCC. To be qualified for election as a representative of the laity, a person must be of the laity, an actual communicant, aged 16 or over, and not disqualified (e.g. by conviction of certain offences, disqualification as a company director or entry on a “barred list”), and must be on the church electoral roll (and, unless under 18, have been on the roll for at least 6 months); he or she must be nominated and secondedby persons on the roll, and be willing to serve.
For the Annual Parochial Church Meeting it is anyone on the electoral roll of the parish church only, thatcan attend and vote.
Every parish is legally required to hold an Annual Parish Meeting to elect Churchwardens and an Annual Parochial Church Meeting to conduct other parish business. These are required under statute through the Church Representation Rules.
The Independently Examined annual accounts have to be approved by a PCC meeting held prior to the Annual Parochial Church Meeting.