Image of the inside of a church

Churchwardens are the bishop's lay officers in a parish. It is a volunteer role, and Churchwardens are vital to the health and wellbeing of our church communities.

The role of a Churchwarden is a statutory one, with ancient origins. The rights and responsibilities are laid down in ecclesiastical law under the Churchwardens Measure 2001.

Their first and direct responsibility is to the Bishop, usually via the Archdeacon. Together with the parish priest, they are generally responsible for the day-to-day functioning of a parish.

Today the role is very varied, but generally involves matters to do with church life, governance, buildings and worship. Churchwardens work closely with Archdeacons and their offices.

Churchwarden Visitation

Canons of the Church of England

E1 of Churchwardens

1. The churchwardens of parishes and districts shall be chosen in accordance with the Churchwardens Measure 2001 and any other Measure, Act, or scheme affecting churchwardens.

2. (a) At a time and place to be appointed by the Bishop annually, being on a date not later than 31st July in each year, each person chosen for the office of churchwarden shall appear before the Bishop, or his substitute duly appointed, and be admitted to the office of churchwarden after:-

(i) making a declaration in the presence of the Bishop or his substitute, that he will faithfully and diligently perform the duties of his office; and

(ii) subscribing a declaration to that effect and also that he is not disqualified under Section 2(1), (2) or (3) of the Churchwardens Measure 2001.

2. (b) In relation to filling of a casual vacancy the reference in paragraph (a) above to the 31st July shall be construed as a reference to a date three months after the person who is to fill the vacancy is chosen or the date of the next annual meeting of the parishioners to elect churchwardens, whichever is the earlier.

3. Subject to any provision of any Measure, Act, or scheme relating to the resignation or vacation of their office, the churchwardens so chosen and admitted shall continue in their office until they, or others as their successors, be admitted in like manner by the Bishop or his substitute duly appointed or, if no person is so admitted by 31st July in the year in question, until that date.

4. The churchwardens when admitted are officers of the Bishop. They 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.

5. In the churchwardens is vested the property in the plate, ornaments, and other movable goods of the church, and they shall keep an inventory thereof which they shall revise from time to time as occasion may require. On going out of office they shall duly deliver to their successors any goods of the church remaining in their hands together with the said inventory, which shall be checked by their successors.

6. In this Canon "Bishop" means the bishop of the diocese concerned.

Letter to Churchwardens 2021

Firstly, thank you for all you have done for the life of the church during the past year and for taking on this important task. If you are no longer to be churchwarden please would you pass this letter to your successor.

I write to invite you to attend the annual visitation. This year these will be Bishop’s Visitations and Bishop Richard, our Diocesan Bishop, will giving the charge and be swearing you in as churchwarden. Those of you attending Visitations in the Ludlow Archdeaconry will also be able to meet with our new Archdeacon of Ludlow Fiona Gibson.

Every churchwarden is required by law to be admitted annually to office by the Archdeacon or under exceptional circumstances his surrogate.  Until you have been admitted to office you are not legally a Churchwarden and you must be admitted before 31st August 2021.  Prior to admittance you will need to complete a new Declaration form, which will be given out at the visitation and is to be completed and returned before departure.

Dates and Times:
Date Time Venue
Wednesday 30th June 5.00pm St Mary’s Ross on Wye
  7.30pm St Mary’s Ross on Wye
Monday 5th July 5.00pm Leominster Priory
  7.30pm Leominster Priory
Wednesday 7th July 5.00pm St Laurence, Ludlow
  7.30pm St Laurence, Ludlow
Wednesday 14th July 7.00pm St Laurence, Church Stretton
Sunday 18th July 3.30pm Hereford Cathedral with Evensong

Please indicate on the return slip (that you have received via email) whichever suits you the best and email or post it to Judy Pearce immediately after your election/re-election but no later than 25th June. If you are unable to make any of the dates please email Judy Pearce.

Inventory and Terrier

An important task for Ludlow Archdeaconry Churchwardens is to complete the annual check of church property.  Please record any changes to the inventory and return it with your reply slip. You might find it convenient to use a copy of the form for your formal report to the PCC and Annual Parochial Church Meeting. 

Additional Resources: