GS 2254 - Review of PCC Membership

June 23, 2022

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The Church of England encourages greater variety of worship, but the current rules make it difficult for participants of non-Eucharistic worship to join parochial church councils.

The Church of England's application for Electoral Roll membership is unnecessarily detailed and vague, and does not explain the benefits and expectations of electoral roll membership.

This Synod invites the Archbishops' Council to review the qualifications for membership of parochial church councils and the form of application for enrolment on a church electoral roll.

The PCC of St. Michael the Archangel Smarden wants to encourage the Active Church congregation to become members of the electoral roll and to take responsibility for the practical tasks of maintaining the ministry and the building. However, under the current Church Representation Rules, they cannot recruit anybody from the Active Church congregation.

The current Church of England Electoral Roll application form is too detailed and vague, and makes it difficult for people to join the church. It also makes people suspicious of joining organisations, and makes it difficult for people to understand what membership means.

The Canterbury Diocesan Synod seeks a review of the qualifications for membership of parochial church councils and entry on church electoral rolls. It also raises issues about the application form for entry on the roll.

The Church Representation Rules allow parishes to adopt their own rules for parish governance, and the qualifications for enrolment on church electoral rolls are something that might be considered by the Elections Review Group.

A lay person is entitled to have his or her name on the parish electoral roll if he or she is baptised, aged 16 or over, and has made one of the following three declarations. The Church Representation and Ministers Measure 2019 replaced the then existing Church Representation and Ministers Regulations with a new Church Representation and Ministers Regulations. The Revision Committee for the Measure considered submissions from members of the Synod regarding the provisions concerning church electoral rolls. The Revision Committee received only one submission concerning the qualifications for entry on the church electoral roll. The committee did not accept the submission, and no amendments were tabled to the provisions concerning electoral rolls at the Revision Stage in full Synod. The total membership of the Church of England is greater than the number of those whose names are entered on church electoral rolls. The application for enrolment could be simplified, but the form needs to reflect the statutory eligibility criteria.

To be eligible for election to a parish church council, a person must be an 'actual communicant'. A person who worships exclusively in a mission initiative where the worship does not involve any eucharistic worship will not be qualified for election to the parish church council.

Being an 'actual communicant' should generally cease to be a qualification for election as a representative of the laity. This would have implications for the membership of PCCs, deanery and diocesan synods and the House of Laity of the General Synod.