Attracting younger churchwardens
05 February 2018 IN: Parish News
St Mary the Virgin in Davyhulme has worked hard to open up the role of churchwarden to younger people, including those with work commitments and young children, and hopes the move will have the added benefit of encouraging younger people to come to church.
The Wardenshare project was recognised with a Church for a different world award by Bishop David. It’s been successful in changing the age profile of churchwardens by encouraging people with work commitments and child care issues to take on the office of churchwarden.
Vicar of St Mary’s, Canon Chris Ford, said, “Wardenshare has involved looking collectively as a PCC at the expectations of the churchwarden role. Wardens are often expected to be available during the day to ensure the proper maintenance of church buildings and meet with contractors. Traditional expectations do not necessarily fit with people who are working or have children at school.
“As we appointed younger churchwardens, former wardens began to offer informal advice and cover for weekday duties. This developed into a mentoring arrangement. The wider congregation also recognised that if we are to serve a ‘Church in a different world’, our expectations about the availability and the role of the churchwarden might need a greater degree of flexibility – while nonetheless fulfilling core duties.”
It is now the norm for St Mary’s to have two churchwardens and two deputy churchwardens who have children of school age. Wardenshare has had the following tangible benefits:
The role is more accessible to people with gifts of leadership, without them feeling they need to serve an ‘apprenticeship’ as a sidesperson or PCC member first.
There is an ever increasing pool of gifted people who have served as churchwardens and have a broad range of experience and expertise.
The lay leadership within the church is becoming truly inter-generational.
Angela May, former deputy warden and now churchwarden, said “Our team of wardens complements one another brings different gifts to the table, including becoming great friends. With the support of previous wardens and our congregation we have organised services and events to the best of our ability without the fear of not always getting it right first time.”
Chris adds, “Hopefully, with younger lay leaders being visible in our church, more young people and families will feel at home here. We want everyone to have a sense of belonging, but recognise the need to make disciples of young people who have challenging and changing patterns of life and responsibility.”