The membership of the PCC is set out in the Church Representation Rules 2022.
In brief the membership consists of: the parish priest and other clergy; the churchwardens; the officers of the PCC; the elected lay members (the number of which depends upon the size of the electoral roll); representatives on the Deanery, Diocesan and General Synods; co-opted members.
It is good practice to have a clear constitution setting out terms of office and any scheme that provides for eg. the appointment of deputy wardens.
It is also good practice to have clear job descriptions for any office holder – bearing in mind the formal rules that may relate to these.
The PCC are charity trustees.
From the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956
(1) It shall be the duty of the minister and the parochial church council to consult together on matters of general concern and importance to the parish.
(2) The functions of parochial church councils shall include:
- co-operation with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical;
- the consideration and discussions 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 provision 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.
(3) In the exercise of its functions the parochial church council shall take into consideration any expression of opinion by any parochial church meeting.
The formal requirements are in the Church Representation Rules 2022. A full transcript of these rules can be accessed by following this link; Church Representation Rules online - introduction | The Church of England
The PCC must hold a sufficient number of meetings to enable the efficient transaction of its business.
Where the chair of the PCC considers that business can be conducted by correspondence, M29(1) of the CRR 2020 makes provision for this to happen. See CRR 2022 General Provision below.
Notice of date of meeting to be publicly displayed (on or near the main door of the church) 10 days before the date of the meeting. In the case of the parish church or, where there is more than one church in the parish, each of those churches, on or near the principal door, and in the case of each building in the parish licensed for public worship, in a location readily visible to members of the congregation.
At least 7 full days before the meeting a notice of the date, time and place and the agenda to be sent to all PCC members.
The meeting may be postponed on the decision of the chair, vice-chair and the secretary. If so a new meeting must be called within 14 days of the original date.
The secretary is the guardian of due process. Make sure that the rules are available.
Similar notice rules apply to APCMs.
These should be a succinct record of what was discussed. They must record the name of each member present at the meeting and any other person attending.
Apart from the PCC members who should get the minutes? They are a public record and need to be displayed but some may need them directly.
How are discussions and decisions communicated?
The Parish Priest is the chair and the PCC should elect a lay person to be vice-chair.
If the Parish Priest proposes a substantive item for consideration they can hand over to the vice-chair to facilitate the discussion. Some clergy choose not to chair their PCC and hand over to the vice- chair entirely.
Good chairing involves allowing everyone to make a contribution but not allowing any person to dominate.
Clarity in process – how are decisions supposed to be made – how are they really made?
The PCC can determine how a decision will be voted upon. This is usually by a show of hands on a straight “yes” or “no” basis. However, this may disguise the levels of support or opposition represented by a simple “yes” or “no”.
Consensus is not always possible. Some people may hold deep convictions and feel a strong obligation to stop a decision being made if a pure consensus model is being used.
In a modified consensus model every effort is made to come to an agreement by consensus but if this fails then a decision is made on the basis of a majority which needs to be quite high eg. 80%.
This allows matters to proceed especially where a majority have been working hard to address minority concerns. It also allows those who object to register their objection without feeling that they are responsible for the outcome.
The higher the majority voting for a proposal the greater the support for it will be. However, it is important to gauge the strength of the ‘yes’ in terms of positive action to see the proposal put into effect.
A majority vote always implies a minority. These people may be more motivated in their dissent than those who have voted for the proposal.
A two-thirds percentage vote is the minimum desirable for major decisions.
For different kinds of decisions it is a good idea to specify different level of majority required.
When a decision is made the process must respect the level of majority vote which has already been decided upon.
How well do the members of the PCC know each other?
This is more than simply a social question. It is a good idea for some time to be set aside for PCC members to share things about their faith, their vision for the church and the gospel.
- What kind of things does your PCC normally discuss?
- What kind of things would you wish them to discuss?
- Who draws up the agenda – in theory – in practice?
- Who is not present on your PCC? It may be that a group in the life of the church has no representation. This is often true of young people.
The Churchwardens and PCC together take responsibility for the repairs and maintenance of the church, the churchyard and any property owned by the PCC (eg. the church hall).
It is easy for matters related to repairs and maintenance to dominate the agenda. These are often issues that require decisions about money and this can focus people’s attention!
Matters to do with repairs and maintenance may be delegated to a sub-committee and the PCC can decide upon the powers of such a sub-committee.
The PCC is responsible for making sure that necessary faculties and permissions are obtained and that works are carried out according the Chancellors guidance.
The PCC must be prepared to formulate and communicate clear policies with respect to a range of things including:
- Safeguarding policy
- Health and Safety policy (mandatory only where the PCC is an employer)
- conflict of interest policy
- complaints policy
- reserves policies
- legacy policy
See the parish resources website for examples of policies https://www.parishresources.org.uk/pccs/policies/
a) Churchwardens (and other cases)
The Churchwarden Measure 2001 states that a person shall be disqualified from being chosen for the office of churchwarden when that person has served as a churchwarden of the same parish for six successive periods (i.e. six years) of office until the annual meeting of the parishioners to elect churchwardens in the next year but one following the date on which that person vacated office at the end of the last such period:
A meeting of the parishioners may, by resolution, decide that this section shall not apply in relation to the parish concerned.
Any such resolution may be revoked by a subsequent meeting of the parishioners.
More details for churchwardens, readers, deanery synod reps, and co-opted members can be found in the CRR 2022 M17.
Term of office: other cases.
M17(1) A person who is a member of the PCC under Rule M15(1)(f) (churchwarden elect) holds office as such for the period which –
- begins when the person is chosen as churchwarden, and
- ends when the person is admitted to the office of churchwarden (at which point the person continues as a member, holding office as such under Rule M15(1)(e)).
(2) A person who is a member of the PCC under Rule M15(1)(h) (readers) holds office as such for the period which –
- begins with the conclusion of the annual meeting at which it was decided that the person should be a member, and
- ends with the conclusion of the next annual meeting, unless it is decided at that meeting that the person should continue to be a member.
(3) A person who is a member of the PCC under Rule M15(1)(i) as an elected lay member of a deanery synod holds office as a member of the PCC for the period which –
- begins with the date of election, and
- ends with the next 30 June following the annual meeting at which elections of parochial representatives of the laity to the deanery synod are required to be held under Rule M6(1)(a).
(4) A person who is a member of the PCC under Rule M15(1)(k) (co-opted members) holds office as such for the period which –
- begins when the decision to co-opt the person as a member takes effect, and
- ends with the conclusion of the next annual meeting.
5) Paragraph (4)(b) does not prevent the person being co-opted on subsequent occasions for a similar term.
b) Representatives of the laity
Rule M16 (7&8) of the Church representation Rules 2022 states that the annual meeting may decide that no representative of the laity being a member of the parochial church council by virtue of rule 15(1)(j) may hold office after the date of that meeting for more than a specified number of years continuously. Furthermore, the annual meeting may also decide that a person who, as a result of a decision under paragraph (7), has ceased to be eligible to be a member under Rule M15(1(j) may, after such interval as the annual meeting decides, again stand for election as a representative of the laity.
Term of office: representatives of the laity
M16(1) A person who is a member of the PCC under Rule M15(1)(j) (representatives of laity) holds office as such for a period which –
- begins with the conclusion of the annual meeting at which the person was elected as a representative of the laity, and
- ends with the conclusion of the third subsequent annual meeting.
(2) But the annual meeting may, despite paragraph (1)(b), decide that the members under Rule M15(1)(j) are to retire at the conclusion of the annual meeting following their election.
(3) A decision under paragraph (2) does not affect the term of office of a member due to retire from the PCC at the conclusion of the annual meeting held after the one at which the decision was taken.
(4) A decision under paragraph (2) must be reviewed by the annual meeting at least once every six years; and if, on the review, the annual meeting revokes the decision, paragraph (1) applies unless and until a further decision is taken under paragraph (2).
(5) Where a decision is not taken under paragraph (2), one-third of the members under Rule M15(1)(j) are to retire and be elected each year; but at an annual meeting at which more than one-third of the members under Rule M15(1)(j) are elected, lots are drawn to decide which third is to retire in the first year after that meeting, which third in the second year and which third in the third year.
(6) A member under Rule M15(1)(j) is, subject to paragraphs (7) and (8), eligible on retirement for re-election.
(7) The annual meeting may decide that nobody who is a member under Rule M15(1)(j) may hold office as such after the date of the meeting for a continuous period which exceeds whatever number of years the annual meeting decides.
(8) The annual meeting may also decide that a person who, as a result of a decision under paragraph (7), has ceased to be eligible to be a member under Rule M15(1(j) may, after such interval as the annual meeting decides, again stand for election as a representative of the laity.
(10) A reference in this Rule to the conclusion of an annual meeting is, in a case where an election held at the meeting also involves postal voting, to be read as a reference to the declaration of the result of the election.
In addition to the annual meeting the minister of a parish may convene a special parochial church meeting, and he shall do so on a written representation by not less than one-third of the lay members of the parochial church council; and the provisions of these rules relating to the convening and conduct of the annual meeting shall, with the necessary modifications, apply to a special parochial church meeting.
All lay persons whose names are entered on the roll of the parish on the day which is twenty-one clear days before the date on which any special parochial church meeting is to be held shall be entitled to attend the meeting and to take part in its proceedings, and no other lay
A clerk in Holy Orders shall be entitled to attend any such meeting and to take part in its proceedings if by virtue of rule 6(3), (4) or (5) he would have been entitled to attend the annual meeting of the parish had it been held on the same date, and no other such clerk shall be so entitled.
On a written representation made to the archdeacon by not less than one-third of the lay members of the parochial church council, or by one-tenth of the persons whose names are on the roll of the parish, and deemed by the archdeacon to have been made with sufficient cause, the archdeacon shall convene an extraordinary meeting of the parochial church council or an extraordinary parochial church meeting, and shall either take the chair himself or shall appoint a chairman to preside. The chairman, not being otherwise entitled to attend such meeting, shall not be entitled to vote upon any resolution before the meeting.
In any case where the archdeacon is himself the minister, any representation under paragraph (1) of this rule shall be made to the bishop, and in any such case the references to the archdeacon in paragraph (1) of this rule shall be construed as references to the bishop, or to a person appointed by him to act on his behalf.
Paragraphs (2) and (3) of rule 22 shall apply in relation to an extraordinary parochial church meeting under this rule as they apply in relation to a special parochial church meeting under that rule with the modification that for the word 'special' in paragraph (2) of that rule there shall be substituted the word 'extraordinary'.
Chair and vice-chair
M19(1) The minister is the chair of the PCC.
(2) The PCC must elect a lay member as vice-chair; and the vice-chair acts as chair and accordingly has the powers vested in the chair –
- where there is no minister,
- where the minister is absent or unable to act for some other reason, or
- where the minister invites the vice-chair to act as chair.
(3) Where a special cure of souls in respect of the parish has been assigned to a vicar in a team ministry or a special responsibility for pastoral care in respect of the parish has been assigned to a member of the team under section 34(8) of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 –
- the vicar or team member in question is to be treated as the minister for the purposes of this Rule, or
- if the vicar or team member is absent or incapacitated by illness or for some other reason, the rector in the team ministry is to be treated as the minister for those purposes.
Secretary and treasurer
M20(1) The PCC may appoint one of its members as secretary; but if it does not, it must appoint some other fit person.
(2) The secretary has the following functions –
- to have charge of all the documents relating to the current business of the PCC other than the roll of the parish (unless the secretary is also the electoral roll officer);
- to keep the minutes;
- to record all resolutions passed;
- to notify his or her name and address to the secretary of the deanery synod and the secretary of the diocesan synod.
(3) The PCC may appoint one of its members as treasurer or two or more of its members as joint treasurers; but if it does not, it must –
- arrange for the office of treasurer to be discharged by such of the churchwardens as are members of the PCC or, if only one of them is a member, by that one solely, or
- appoint some other fit person.
(4) Where the person appointed as secretary or treasurer is not a member of the PCC, he or she does not become a member merely as a result of holding the office in question but may be co-opted under Rule M15(1)(k).
Electoral roll officer
M21(1) The PCC must appoint a person as electoral roll officer to act under its direction for the purpose of carrying out its functions with regard to the roll of the parish.
(2) The electoral roll officer accordingly has charge of the roll of the parish and must keep it up to date in accordance with these Rules.
(3) The person appointed under paragraph (1) need not be a member of the PCC and may also be the secretary.
Independent examiner or auditor
M22(1) If the annual meeting does not appoint an independent examiner or auditor to the PCC, or the person appointed is unable or unwilling to act, the PCC must appoint some other fit person.
(2) A person appointed under paragraph (1) must not be a member of the PCC.
(3) Paragraphs (4) and (5) of Rule M6 (eligibility for appointment as independent examiner or auditor) apply to an appointment under paragraph (1) of this Rule as they apply to an appointment under paragraph (2) of that Rule.
(4) The term of office of a person appointed under paragraph (1) ends at the conclusion of the next annual meeting.
5) It is for the PCC to pay the remuneration of a person appointed under paragraph (1).
Meetings: time and place
M23(1) Each year, the PCC must hold a sufficient number of meetings to enable the efficient transaction of its business.
(2) The chair must convene each of those meetings.
(3) The chair may at any other time convene a meeting of the PCC; but if the chair does not do so within seven days of receiving a demand for such a meeting signed by at least one-third of the members of the PCC, those members may themselves immediately convene a meeting.
(4) A meeting of the PCC is to be held at such place as the PCC directs or, in the absence of such a direction, as the chair directs.
M24(1) A person is entitled to attend a meeting of the PCC only if –
(a) the person is a member of the PCC, or
(b) where the parish is in the area of a group ministry, the person is entitled to do so under paragraph (2).
(2) Where the parish is in the area of a group ministry, each of the following persons is entitled to attend a meeting of the PCC –
- every incumbent of a benefice in the group,
- every priest in charge of a benefice in the group, and
- if the area of the group ministry includes the area of a benefice for which there is a team ministry, every vicar in the team ministry.
(3) A person who is entitled under paragraph (2) to attend a meeting of the PCC –
- is entitled to receive documents circulated to the members of the PCC, and
- is entitled to speak at the meeting, but
- is not entitled to vote at the meeting.
(4) The PCC may invite such other persons to attend its meetings as it wishes.
M25(1) At least ten clear days before a meeting of the PCC (other than one convened under paragraph (8)), notice of the meeting must be displayed –
- in the case of the parish church or, where there is more than one church in the parish, each of those churches, on or near the principal door, and
- in the case of each building in the parish licensed for public worship, in a location readily visible to members of the congregation.
(2) A notice under paragraph (1) must –
- specify the time and place of the meeting, and
- be signed by or on behalf of the chair or other persons convening the meeting.
(3) At least seven clear days before a meeting of the PCC (other than one convened under paragraph (8)), notice of the meeting must be given to –
- each member of the PCC,
- where the parish is in the area of a group ministry, each person entitled to attend the meeting under Rule M24(2), and
- each person whom the PCC has invited to the meeting under Rule M24(4).
(4) A notice under paragraph (3) must –
- specify the time and place of the meeting,
- be signed by or on behalf of the secretary, and
- contain the agenda of the meeting, including any motions or other business proposed by members of which the secretary has received notice.
(5) But in the case of a meeting of the PCC which immediately follows the annual meeting and which has been called only for the purpose of appointing or electing officers of the PCC or the members of the standing committee, notice is not required under paragraph (3) if it has been given under paragraph (1).
(6) If the chair, vice-chair and secretary, or any two of them, consider for some good and sufficient reason that a meeting of the PCC which has been convened should be postponed, each member of the PCC and each person specified in Rule M24(2) must be given –
- notice that the meeting has been postponed, and
- notice specifying the time and place of the reconvened meeting.
(7) A notice under paragraph (6)(b) must be given before the end of 14 days beginning with the date for which the meeting had been convened.
(8) In the event of a sudden emergency or other special circumstances requiring immediate action by the PCC, the chair may convene a meeting by giving every member whatever written notice is practicable.
M26(1) The chair at a meeting of the PCC (other than an extraordinary meeting under Rule M33) is –
- the chair of the PCC, or
- if the chair is not present, the vice-chair of the PCC, or
- if nobody is available under sub-paragraph (a) or (b) (whether to chair the whole meeting or particular items on the agenda), a person chosen by and from the members of the PCC.
(2) Where a clerk in Holy Orders who is licensed to officiate in the parish or has permission to do so is authorised by the bishop to act as the chair of the PCC –
- that clerk is to be the chair of the PCC for the meeting if the chair of the PCC is absent, and
- the references in paragraph (1) to the chair are accordingly to be read as references to that clerk.
(3) An authorisation of the kind mentioned in paragraph (2) may be given only if –
- the clerk in question agrees, and
- an application is made by the minister and PCC jointly or, where the benefice is vacant, by the PCC alone.
(4) The chair at a meeting of the PCC must vacate the chair, either generally or for the purposes of any business in which he or she has a personal interest or any other particular business, if –
- the chair thinks it appropriate to do so, or
- the meeting so resolves with the agreement of the archdeacon.
M27(1) The quorum for a meeting of the PCC is (subject to paragraph (2)) –
- one-third of its members, or
- in the case of a meeting convened under Rule M25(8) (emergency etc.), a majority of its members.
(2) A meeting of the PCC is quorate only if the majority of the members present are lay persons.
(3) Business which is not specified in the agenda for a meeting of the PCC may not be transacted at the meeting except with the consent of at least three-quarters of the members present; and at a meeting convened under Rule M25(8), the only business which may be transacted is that specified in the notice convening the meeting.
(4) Business at a meeting of the PCC is decided by a majority of the members present and voting.
(5) In the case of an equality of votes at a meeting of the PCC, the chair has a second, casting vote.
(6) A meeting of the PCC may adjourn its proceedings to such time and place as the meeting may decide.
M28(1) The minutes of each meeting of the PCC must record the name of each member present at the meeting and any other person attending.
(2) If one-fifth of the members of the PCC present and voting on a resolution so require, the minutes must record the name of each member voting for the resolution and the name of each member voting against.
(3) A member of the PCC may require the minutes to record how he or she voted on a particular resolution.
(4) Each member of the PCC, and any person entitled to attend meetings of the PCC under Rule M24(2), is entitled to have access to the minutes of the meetings of the PCC.
(5) Each of the following persons is entitled to have access to the approved minutes of meetings of the PCC without the authority of the PCC –
- the independent examiner or auditor of the PCC’s financial statements,
- the bishop,
- the archdeacon, and
- any person authorised in writing by a person mentioned in sub-paragraph (a), (b) or (c).
(6) Any other person whose name is on the roll of the parish is entitled to have access to the approved minutes of meetings of the PCC held after the annual meeting in 1995, except any minutes which the PCC regards as confidential.
(7) Other persons may have access to the minutes of the meetings of the PCC only in accordance with a specific authorisation from the PCC; but, where minutes have been deposited in the diocesan record office under the Parochial Registers and Records Measure 1978, the need for that authorisation may be dispensed with by the chief officer of that office.
Business by correspondence
M29(1) The chair of the PCC may, if he or she considers that any business can properly be conducted by correspondence, instruct the secretary of the PCC to send proposals requiring the approval of members to –
- each member of the PCC, and
- any person entitled to attend the meetings of the PCC under Rule M24(2).
(2) Unless objection to the proposals is received from members in such numbers and within such period from the date of their being sent as the chair of the PCC may specify, the proposals are to be treated at the end of that period as approved by the PCC as if they had been approved at a duly convened meeting.
(3) Where proposals are circulated under this Rule for approval, the secretary must report to the next meeting of the PCC –
- whether the proposals were approved, and
- if objections to the proposals were received, the number of members from whom they were received.
Audit of financial statements
M30(1) The independent examiner or auditor of the PCC’s financial statements –
- is entitled to have access to books, documents or other records (however kept) which relate to the financial statements;
- may require information and explanations from past or present treasurers or members of the PCC.
(2) If a person fails to comply with a requirement under paragraph (1)(b), the independent examiner or auditor may apply to the Charity Commission for an order for directions under section 155 of the Charities Act 2011.
M31(1) The PCC has a standing committee constituted in accordance with this Rule.
(2) If there are more than 50 names on the roll of the parish on the date on which the annual meeting is held, the standing committee is to consist of –
- the minister,
- each churchwarden who is a member of the PCC or, if there are more than two, such two or more of them as are appointed by the PCC by resolution, and
(c) at least two other members of the PCC appointed by the PCC by resolution, the number of whom must be at least equal to the number of churchwardens who are members of the committee under sub-paragraph (b).
(3) If there are no more than 50 names on the roll of the parish on the date on which the annual meeting is held, the standing committee is to consist of –
- the minister, and
- at least two other members of the PCC (each of whom may, but need not, be a churchwarden) appointed by the PCC by resolution.
(4) The PCC may by resolution remove a person appointed under paragraph (2)(b) or (c) or (3)(b).
(5) A member appointed under paragraph (2)(b) or (c) or (3)(b) holds office for a period which begins with the date of appointment and ends with the conclusion of the next annual meeting (subject to the possibility of the member’s removal under paragraph (4)).
(6) The standing committee may transact the PCC’s business between meetings of the PCC; but the standing committee –
- may not discharge a duty of the PCC, and
- may not exercise a power of the PCC which is subject to the passing of a resolution by the PCC or compliance by the PCC with some other requirement.
(7) If the PCC gives the standing committee any directions as to the exercise of its power under paragraph (6), the committee must exercise the power in accordance with those directions.
M32(1) The PCC may appoint committees for the various branches of church work in the parish; and the members of a committee appointed under this Rule may include persons who are not members of the PCC.
(2) The minister is entitled to be an ex officio member of each committee appointed under this Rule.
M33(1) Where a written representation is made for the purposes of Rule M14, the archdeacon or bishop must, if he or she does not convene an extraordinary parochial church meeting under that Rule, convene an extraordinary meeting of the PCC under this Rule.
(2) At a meeting convened under this Rule, the archdeacon or bishop must either take the chair or appoint a person to do so.
(3) If the chair of the meeting would not otherwise be entitled to attend, he or she may not vote on any resolution before it.