These notes interpret the Church Representation Rules and are provided for guidance, but reference should be made to the Rules as necessary.

View the Church Representation Rules on the Church of England's website.

The Church Representation Rules regarding eligibility to serve changed during 2016, and so any forms saved before 2017 must be replaced (see downloads at foot of this page).

This is what the Church Representation Rules state...

Rule 6(1): In every parish there shall be held not later than the 30th April in each year the annual parochial church meeting (the “annual meeting”).

Rule 6(2): All lay persons whose names are entered on the roll of the parish shall be entitled to attend the annual meeting and to take part in its proceedings, and no other lay person shall be so entitled.

Rule 7(1): The annual meeting shall be convened by the minister of the parish by a notice in the form set out in section 4 of Appendix I to these rules affixed on or near to the principal door of every church in the parish, and every building licensed for public worship in the parish, for a period including the last two Sundays before the day of the meeting.

Rule 11(9): The result of any election by an annual meeting shall be announced as soon as practicable by the person presiding over the election, and a notice of the result shall in every case be affixed on or near the principal door of every church in the parish and every building licensed for public worship in the parish, and shall bear the date on which the result is declared. The notice shall remain affixed for not less than fourteen days.

Synodical Government Measure 1969 as amended © The Archbishops’ Council 1984–2003

This is what the Churchwardens Measure 2001 states...

Section 1:

3. The churchwardens of every parish shall be chosen from persons who have been baptised and —

  • a. whose names are on the church electoral roll of the parish;
  • b. who are actual communicants;
  • c. who are twenty-one years of age or upwards; and
  • d. who are not disqualified. [Note: download the nomination form below for details of disqualifications]

Section 4:

1. The churchwardens of a parish shall be chosen annually not later than the 30th April in each year.

2. Subject to the provisions of this Measure the churchwardens of a parish shall be elected by a meeting of the parishioners.

3. Candidates for election at the meeting must be nominated and seconded in writing by persons entitled to attend the meeting and each nomination paper must include a statement, signed by the person nominated, to the effect that that person is willing to serve as a churchwarden and is not disqualified.

4. A nomination shall not be valid unless —

  • a. the nomination paper is received by the minister of the parish before the commencement of the meeting; and
  • b. in the case of a person who is not [normally] qualified, the bishop’s permission was given ... before the nomination paper is received by the minister of the parish.

5. If it appears to the minister of the parish that the election of any particular person nominated might give rise to serious difficulties between the minister and that person in the carrying out of their respective functions the minister may, before the election is conducted, make a statement to the effect that only one churchwarden is to be elected by the meeting. In that event one churchwarden shall be appointed by the minister from among the persons nominated, the name of the person so appointed being announced before the election is conducted, and the other shall then be elected by the meeting.

Section 5:

1. A joint meeting of —

  • a. the persons whose names are entered on the church electoral roll of the parish; and
  • b. the persons resident in the parish whose names are entered on a register of local government electors by reason of such residence,

shall be deemed to be a meeting of the parishioners for the purposes of this Measure.

© Crown Copyright 2001

The Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM)

It is normal for the Election of Churchwardens and the Annual Parochial Church Meeting to be held at the same time. However, the Statutory Notice for the APCM as laid down in the Rules makes no provision for the Election of Churchwardens, so there have to be two notices. The Statutory Notice as laid down by the Rules is available below; also available are a Notice and a nomination form which satisfy the Churchwardens Measure 2001. Both Notices have to be displayed for a period of at least fourteen days including the two Sundays before the Meeting.

Note also that the Election of Churchwardens can be attended by people who are not on the Electoral Roll. They can attend and vote, but are not entitled to attend the APCM and they may be excluded from that meeting. By the same token, there is nothing to stop a parish allowing such people to attend the APCM, and this may be pastorally advantageous.

Borough or District Electoral Registration Officers are not permitted to supply a Full [unedited] Register of Electors for the purposes of determining the eligibility of anyone to vote in the Election of Churchwardens. Parishes can purchase the Edited Register, but this is by definition not complete. If there is doubt about the validity of someone’s vote, a suitable procedure could be:

  • the minister should object to the conduct of the election by show of hands, and the election should be conducted with ballot papers. Ballot papers must be signed on the back.
  • the vote should be taken and ballots counted
  • if ballots of doubtful validity will have a material effect on the result of the vote, declaration of the result should be deferred until the eligibility of the voter has been verified. This can be done by inspecting the Full Register which must be made available by the Electoral Registration Officer, usually at the Council Offices or often at main libraries.

Prospective churchwardens must be members of the electoral roll; residence in the parish is not sufficient.

Unless an Annual Meeting determines otherwise, Churchwardens may serve for a maximum of six years from their election; if they do not retire before the end of six years, those who have served continuously must then have two years 'off' before becoming eligible to stand for election again.

Electoral Roll

The Electoral Roll is a list of names and addresses of every person who can vote in the annual parochial church meeting. It is revised annually but is replaced in its entirety every six years (counting from 2007); the Roll created in 2013 must be replaced with a brand-new roll again in 2019.

Read the Church Representation Rules on the revision and renewal of the Electoral Roll on the Church of England website.

No-one over 18 can be elected to the PCC until they have been members of the Roll for six months. This does not apply to young people under the age of 18, who can be elected to the PCC from their 16th birthday.

Electing the Parochial Church Council (PCC)

Some people are ex-officio members of the PCC:

  • The parish priest, and any ordained minister or deaconess or layworker licensed to the parish;
  • Any other licensed clergy in a team ministry;
  • The Churchwardens (and deputy wardens, if permitted);
  • Any Readers licensed to the parish and whom the Annual Meeting has appointed to the PCC;
  • Members of the Roll who are members of Deanery, Diocesan or General Synods

Any lay member in the above list can also be a member as an elected lay representative. For example, an existing elected member could become churchwarden in the middle of their term of membership. That member would fill one of the places in the elected membership as well as an ex-officio position. However no person may have more than one vote (except the chairman when a casting vote is needed). A person who is appointed to an ex-officio position may choose to resign their elected membership and have that vacancy filled by someone else, but there is no requirement to do so.

Keep an eye open for updates on the Parish Resources Website.

Parish Resources Documents

Here are the forms needed for revising or renewing an electoral roll.

Here are the forms needed for an Annual Parochial Church Meeting.