GS 2254A - Review of PCC Membership

June 23, 2022

GS 2254A

GENERAL SYNOD

REVIEW OF QUALIFICATIONS FOR PCC MEMBERSHIP AND ENTRY ON THE

CHURCH ELECTORAL ROLL

Summary

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.

Motion

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.

1GS 2254A

GENERAL SYNOD

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

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