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"I’ve got a colleague churchwarden and we’ve just grown together as a team... it’s a lovely ministry and sits very well with my reader ministry too. It’s a double job but I love it."

Amit Chawan, Churchwarden at St James', Moss Side


The office of churchwarden dates from the 13th Century, and is one of the earliest forms of recognised lay ministry. Churchwardens play a vital role in church life, encouraging the congregation, taking care of church buildings and working alongside the parish priest. 

If you have taken on the role of churchwarden or are considering doing so, thank you for all that you are doing to support your parish.

The role of a churchwarden

Churchwardens are officers of the bishop and trustees of a Charity. Ideally, churchwardens work together as a pair to support one another in this task, at times a team of assistant churchwardens may offer support. Churchwardens have important legal responsibilities, but the office also has a vital spiritual, pastoral and mission dimension – the duty is to be foremost among the laity in the life and mission of the Church in the parish. Churchwardens are ex-officio members of the PCC and their duties and responsibilities are set out in the Churchwarden’s Measure 2001.

The churchwardens’ main duties are summarised in Canon E1 paragraphs 4 and 5. Under those paragraphs, once churchwardens take up their office, they:

  • are the officers of the bishop (not the incumbent or PCC);
  • must be the foremost in representing the laity and co-operating with the incumbent;
  • must 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;
  • must discharge the duties assigned to them by law and custom. (Examples of this are their duties in relation to the offerings or collections in the church, and in relation to the church building and the land and articles belonging to it);
  • must maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the time of divine service; and
  • hold the title to the movable goods of the church, must keep an inventory of those goods and keep it up to date, and must hand over the goods to their successors, who must check the inventory.

In addition:

  • As churchwarden that person will automatically become a member of the PCC until he or she either ceases to satisfy those qualifications or ceases to be a churchwarden;
  • if the PCC fails to appoint a treasurer, the churchwarden or churchwardens who are members of the PCC will be responsible for discharging the office of treasurer;
  • churchwardens may also be trustees of other parochial charities by virtue of their office; and
  • during a vacancy in the benefice, the churchwardens will be the sequestrators together with the rural or area dean and anyone else whom the bishop appoints. In the case of a team ministry, the team vicars and certain other members of the team take the place of the rural or area dean as automatic sequestrators except so far as the bishop directs that any of them are not to be included.

The role of a churchwarden can be described formally as in the Canons but the role is one that is expressed through a series of important relationships; with God, with other members of the congregation, with the bishop and the vicar, and with the wider community.

Churchwardens are some of the most senior lay leaders of the church and every parish is entitled to appoint two churchwardens.

Caring for church buildings

For guidance on taking care of church buildings and churchyards, see the Church Buildings section of the website. This quick User guide to Faculties for Churchwardens is also helpful.

This section of the Church of England's website also offers useful advice ChurchCare | The Church of England See also, resources such as books and handbooks at the bottom of this page.

Churchwarden’s checklist

Calendar of care for church buildings 


The churchwardens work with the incumbent, PCC and parish safeguarding officer to:

  • pay attention to the specific needs of children and vulnerable adults when undertaking health and safety inspections and risk assessment; Ensure that in the period of a vacancy (during an interregnum), that the incumbent’s safeguarding roles and responsibilities are fulfilled, in consultation with the PCC, parish safeguarding officer and the area dean;
  • ensure that risk assessments are carried out before new activities are undertaken;
  • ensure that all parish activities with children and vulnerable adults are adequately supervised and insured;
  • ensure that the parish has procedures for responding to complaints and grievances;
  • answer questions regarding safeguarding as they arise in the archdeacon’s parish visitations, and respond to any specific safeguarding advice, which may be given by the archdeacon.

These responsibilities are taken from the House of Bishops' roles and responsibilities practice guidance.

For more information about parish safeguarding visit our Safeguarding page, for details on safeguarding training visit Safeguarding Training.

How are churchwardens elected?

Churchwardens must be baptised, regular communicants who are resident in the parish or on the Electoral Roll.

In addition, any churchwarden:

  • must be over 21 
  • should consent to being appointed
  • should have been confirmed and should have received communion at least three times in the previous year.

Churchwardens are elected annually at the parish APCM. Churchwardens should serve for a maximum of 6 years unless the Meeting of Parishioners resolves otherwise.

Once churchwardens have been elected at your Annual Meeting, they will need to sign a declaration form which states that they will discharge their duties faithfully and diligently and that they are not disqualified from being chosen. 

The elected churchwardens should sign and submit their own online form and complete this trustee eligibility / 'fit and proper' person form.

Confirmation of a successful submission will be sent to the email address provided on the form and can be forwarded to the PCC Secretary if required.

If for any reason the churchwarden cannot complete the online form, a paper copy with a prepaid envelope can be requested from your Archdeacon’s PA.

Churchwardens must still attend an Archdeacon's Visitation as this is when they are legally admitted into the office. The notice and dates for the 2024 visitations are listed here

During a vacancy

In any vacancy churchwardens have a key role to play as they, along with the Area Dean become sequestrators.. Advice for handling a vacancy can be found on this dedicated Interregnum page.

Useful resources

Online support 

Parish share 

Running a giving campaign

Running your church's social media

Giving and fundraising for your church 

Parish Resources hosts a wealth of information for churchwardens 

Parish Buying is a buying service set up by the Church, for the Church with contracts and discounts that are available to all parishes in the Church of England.

Ecclesiastical Insurance

Church Representation Rules are vital for all those involved in parochial governance, the rules are available at this link 


The Churchwarden's Yearbook

The Churchwarden's Year: Calendar of Church Maintenance

A Handbook for Churchwardens and Parochial Church Councillors

Practical Church Management

So the Vicar’s Leaving – The Good Interregnum Guide

Caring for Your Church Building


Training for churchwardens is available twice a year – dates for 2024 are yet to be announced.

Archdeacons' Visitation Service

The Visitation Service is a formal service with legal elements, but it is also a time to celebrate the role and work of all churchwardens and a time to meet fellow churchwardens, the area deans, and your archdeacon.

Visitation Services take place in summer each year following the election of churchwardens at the APCM. At the service, the churchwarden makes a declaration in the presence of the archdeacon or registrar that he/she will faithfully and diligently perform the duties of the office in the year for which he/she has been elected. The dates for 2024 are available here Archdeacons' visitation services 2024

Connect with other churchwardens

Join our Diocese of Manchester Churchwarden community on Facebook.


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