A postcard from St Mary’s:
Having a great time, weather has been great, and the scenery and architecture is lovely, and the people I’ve met have all been very friendly.
I hope you don’t mind my sharing what I’ve been learning over the last few months about the role of a churchwarden. It has made me in awe of all the experienced churchwardens in the benefice and those who have undertaken the role in the past (and who are still providing support and encouragement to others).
Did you know the office of a churchwarden is a very old one and since the thirteenth century has been legally recognised?
A churchwarden is also a bishop’s officer and is accountable to the bishop. There are several things which must occur to become a churchwarden. Not least, being nominated by the congregation at the annual parochial church meeting (APCM), the person then attends the archdeacon’s visitation. All diocesan churchwardens attend this at the beginning of their first year of service and are required to sign a document and make a public declaration to faithfully and diligently perform the duties of a churchwarden.
As a member of the congregation I always came into to church having confidence that the service would help me feel close to God through spoken words and worship. I had never thought about how it happens. With the grace of God, the rector, lay readers, members of the PCC, finance committee, treasurers, church secretaries, benefice administrator, churchwardens, director of music and other unnamed people make this happen. A churchwarden represents the congregation and works with the rector on items which include how the Benefice is run, ensuring that worship happens and that the church building and churchyard are maintained, repaired and insured. Items such as the Inventory, terriers, registers, logbooks, quinquennial reports, fabric reports, insurance and risk assessments are all completed to try and ensure the safety and comfort of those who come into the church.
Why, you might ask, am I writing this?
Because I had no idea and thought you might like to know.
Through prayer and guidance of our previous rector, Alan, I felt I was being called to serve God in a different way. It was suggested this might be as a churchwarden. I had attended some churchwarden meetings last year, listening to discussions about the last pieces of the building work we had done last year, but did I know what to do if the lights failed in the bell tower and the switch was fifteen feet up, or the new toilet door showed empty when it was busy (could be an embarrassment)- NO. However, I am learning very slowly.
But most importantly I have learnt that our church buildings need to be welcoming and there for everyone in the community, and to be a signpost of what accepting God’s love can do for each person who enters through the doors.