Serving on The PCC
This short note is intended as a brief guide to serving on the PCC at St Andrew’s Chorleywood.It is intended merely as a summary note and not a comprehensive guide. The rights and duties of the PCC, and of PCC members, are set out in detail in ‘The Church Representation Rules’, which you can access online. Please see “For further Reading” below.
Being a member of the PCC at St Andrew’s is a service. Like any Christian service, it can be immensely rewarding but can also have moments of grind – such as finishing a long meeting after 11pm on a Monday evening! In short, there are two key duties that fall to the PCC:
The Anglican context
We are an Anglican church. That means that the way we are governed is ordered by law, and rooted in custom and practice that goes back many hundreds of years, even though brought up to date by successive revisions. So the incumbent (the vicar), the Churchwardens and PCC members have separate and distinct rights, duties and responsibilities. In turn the vicar has duties to the diocesan Bishop, who delegates his charge to the vicar.
In addition, there are separate, parallel, trustee responsibilities for PCC members under charity law. See below. These are no less serious.
There are some things that we can arrange ourselves, for instance where the law is silent or allows alternative approaches; in other cases we cannot make changes, for instance we cannot change the duties of Churchwardens or of the vicar.
Within the Anglican structure, parishes are organised locally into deaneries, and deaneries into dioceses. Every three years candidates (currently four) are elected onto our local (Rickmansworth) deanery synod which meets at least twice per year. By church law Deanery Synod representatives are automatically entitled to PCC membership. So those considering standing for Deanery Synod should consult both the PCC guidelines and separate ones covering the Deanery Synod role. (See “For further reading below”).
The Charities Act Context
In 2009, following implementation of the Charities Act 2006, St Andrew’s registered as a charity in its own right. As a consequence, all PCC members are now automatically charity trustees. The responsibilities of a charity trustee overlap significantly with those of a PCC member. The main additional implications are the following:
A small minority of people may find themselves ineligible to be a trustee and hence by implication ineligible to stand for PCC. This includes anyone previously disqualified as a company director or anyone convicted of an offence involving dishonesty or deception. With effect from 2015 all new PCC members are required to sign a “Declaration of Eligibility”. (See attachment.)
Church staff and their close relatives, or other financial beneficiaries of the church’s activity and their close relatives, may require special dispensation from the Charity Commission in order to become a trustee/PCC member. This can be organised through the church office. If in doubt please consult the PCC secretary or Church Manager
In extreme circumstances that involve a failure to act in accordance with their legal responsibilities of prudence and care, trustees may be legally liable for a financial loss by the church.
Trustee names, contact details and dates of birth must be registered with the Charity Commission. Trustees are publicly named on the Charity Commission website.
Under both Anglican and Charities Law PCC members have hugely important leadership roles within the church. PCC members are required and expected to work together to follow a Christ-centred agenda, and are expected individually to model the biblical principles of discipleship and servant leadership and to take an active role within the church.
The PCC is required to meet not less than four times per year. In practice we currently meet six times per year, mostly on a Monday evening. Dates are normally set and advised at the start of each calendar year.
Certain routine business and authority is delegated to a Standing Committee, comprising the incumbent, two churchwardens and at least two PCC members appointed annually by the PCC. Standing Committee meets most months. From time to time work parties or sub-groups of 3 people or so are set up to deal with specific issues: e.g. a major refurbishment project. Such delegations are intended to allow the PCC as a whole to concentrate on broader, strategic matters – of policy and direction rather than operational detail.
Officers with special responsibilities (secretary, treasurer and lay vice-chair) are elected annually.
Anyone on the electoral roll, provided they are not barred from becoming a charity trustee, is eligible to stand for election. We follow best practice in relation to Safeguarding and this may involve PCC members being asked to apply for a Disclosure and Barring Service certificate. We like to have a fair representation of the life of the church – by age and gender, with differing experiences as Christians in the community and workplace.
For further reading: