REVIEW OF QUALIFICATIONS FOR PCC MEMBERSHIP AND ENTRY ON THE
CHURCH ELECTORAL ROLL
1. The Church of England encourages greater variety of worship, termed “Fresh
Expressions”. Most of these new forms of worship are non Eucharistic. As the Church
representation rules requires parochial church councils members to be regular
communicants, it is difficult for participants of such acts of worship to join PCCs and take
their place in the responsibility for the management and mission of the church. The motion
calls for a review of the qualifications for membership of parochial church councils, in the
light of the existence of bishops’ mission initiatives.
2. The Church of England application for Electoral Roll membership offers poor user
experience. The standard application for Electoral Roll is both unnecessarily detailed and
vague, making it difficult for those less familiar the culture of the church to complete the
form with confidence. The form does not explain the benefits and some of the
expectations of electoral roll membership. In an age when people are increasingly
suspicious and reluctant to join organisations, the current Electoral Roll form is further
barrier to electoral roll membership. The motion calls for a review of the review of the
Electoral Roll application in the light of the existence of bishops’ mission initiatives.
That this Synod invite the Archbishops’ Council:
(a) to conduct a review of:
(i) the qualifications for membership of parochial church councils, in the light
of the existence of bishops’ mission initiatives; and
(ii) the qualifications for enrolment on a church electoral roll, and the form of
application for enrolment, in the light of supportive people from the wider
community feeling excluded; and;
(b) to report to the Synod on the conclusions of the review.
Review of qualifications for membership of PCC
1. This motion originates from St. Michael the Archangel Smarden PCC. The PCC
proposed the motion in the light of its own attempts to make itself more
representative of the varied nature of the congregation.
2. The variety of the congregation has grown considerably since 2012 when the
church started a monthly Messy Church, which in Smarden is called “Active
Church”. There is regularly an attendance of around 15 adults and 15 children. Most
of the children and adults only attend either Active Church or a bi-monthly All Age
Family service in Biddenden. Most adults of this congregation are not confirmed.
Confirmation is encouraged, but uptake up has been very poor.
3. Smarden PCC wants to encourage the Active Church congregation to see
themselves as members of the electoral roll, and we would like them to take a part
in shaping the vision and direction of the church, as well as encouraging
responsibility for the practical tasks of maintaining the ministry and the building.
However, under the current Church Representation Rules, the PCC is unable
recruit anybody from the Active Church congregation who is not also a regular
communicant, attending regular main services.
4. The Church of England is actively encouraging churches to develop Fresh
Expressions of worship, and therefore Smarden PCC believes there will be many
other congregations experiencing similar limitations.
Review of the application form for Electoral Roll membership form.
1. The main issue with the current Church of England Electoral Roll form is to do with
its presentation and "user experience".
2. The form is, in places unnecessarily, detailed: see for example the note about those
who are approaching 16. However the form is also vague: for instance, how do you
define "good standing"?
3. Increasingly' we find individuals do not have the patience to read forms. If the form
is not immediately clear, people either don't bother applying or apply without
reading read the small print. Also we are finding that people are increasingly
suspicious and reluctant to join organisations, uncertain of the commitment it places
upon them. We rind that the Electoral Roll form constitutes a barrier to church
membership, instead of an encouragement.
4. The current Electoral Roll application offers no explanation about what membership
means, the benefits or responsibilities of Electoral Roll membership.
5. In a church locally, we discovered that a long-standing member of the Electoral Roll
was even not baptised. This only came to light when this person applied to join the
PCC, causing a difficult pastoral conversation. In this situation, the issue was
resolved in a joyous Baptism and Confirmation – but we find that this outcome is the
exception rather than the rule.
Rev'd Alexander Bienfait.
Priest in Charge St. Michael the Archangel Smarden, and All Saints Biddenden
January 2007 – January 2021
Published by the General Synod of the Church of England
© The Archbishops’ Council 2022