Discussion in 'Questions about Anglicanism' started by Scottish Monk, Oct 8, 2012.
What is the role of Church Warden?
I was wondering about this as well. There's a strange coincidence between the roles of Warden and Dean, and its not always clear to me what their roles are, especially with reference to the Rector.
They are administrative roles, the Warden being the choice of the laity and his duties are simply to guide and represent the needs and duties of the laity.
The Rector was the recipient of the parish tithes and usually the parish priest!
Sometimes though, these Wardens or Deans appear to be in the position of Rector. Let's look at the previous Dean of St. Pauls who disgraced himself recently in his support for Occupy. He seemed to act like a Rector, so that the reverend Bishop of London had to step in and remove him, meaning that no one was above him besides the bishop himself?
Also, am I correct in saying that Wardens and Deans are basically an equivalent concept, wardens being the North American equivalent? If so, I haven't seen wardens running North American churches, in the way that the dean of St. Paul's had. Usually, wardens here are subject to the rule of the rector, and fulfill precisely the role you describe, of representing the needs and duties of the laiety (as well as physically 'warding' the church from intruders).
A Dean is an official in charge of a Cathedral, he's the man who runs it! In the Church of England that is! A Church warden is a lay official in a parish. I spent years as a Church warden≤ cleaning drains and gutterings, looking for damp and telling laity not to chew toffee and bacon sandwiches at Holy Communion.
The Rector is the man who receives the tithes in the old parish churches.
According to a vicar I met recently under English canon law it is the wardens job to eject anyone from church who "vexes" the vicar.
He said he liked that law
Oh dear, bacon and toffee,
My concept of a Warden was a lay administrative person charged with the day to day operations of the Parish, though sometimes they are a theologically trained person, or temporarily filled by resident clergy. Dean's are only present at a Diocese Cathedral.
The wardens at my parish act as sidesmen, greeters, chalice-bearers (at Holy Communion), collectors of contributions, and announcers of news after the services. It seems the modern Warden is a combination of sexton, verger, warden, and other duties.
Who is the guy who carries the big stick in the procession?
That would be the Verger. The very name for the office comes from the Latin "Virga", rod or branch.
Today they're often combined with ushers and don't use the lovely rods anymore.
They spent a lot of time going to the local Baptist Church, 2 out of 4 Sundays, when I mentioned this, their excuse was, that it enabled their children to obtain presents for attendance at the Baptist Sunday School! They also pointed out that the Baptists gave better presents and not religious stuff> I'd chosen the presents for my Sunday school Class, (10/15 yr olds.) that year and given them Medals from Walsingham stamped with an image of S.Charles the Martyr. The children liked them and wore them regularly at the Church and the class.
But looking back Consular gives the best vision of a Church Warden's duties. One other thing that I did was to light the fire in winter on a saturday night, then look to it Sunday AM. It was a really interesting time, The Church was in an industrial village, all the protestants went to the Church school & believe it or not, the Church children went to the state school.
The Church wardens role is voluntary and highly varied, they are wardens of the local parish church mostly working in pairs, taking care of all things which may come up from cleaning or organising cleaning to working a long side the vicar to care for the church and to participate in the services, some are now being trained up in lay minster type roles so they can help out in areas where there is not enough vicars so they can take services although not communion, they also chair PCC meetings when the vicar can't be present and there is also a legal part to the role which they have to comply with by law, the role has lots of responsibilies more than I can list here, some churches have a bigger list of duties than others depending where they are and how many people help out in other lay roles in the parish. Church wardens are swore in each year by the local bishop regardless if they are new to the role or have done the role for years.
By experience, my mother has been Church warden for 15 years.
A good summary UK Anglican. As you say, their role is certainly diverse.
Churchwardens are Officers of the Bishop. By virtue of their office, CW's may lead lead (non Eucharistic) worship if the Incumbent fails to turn up at Church. CW's are not obliged to undergo Worship Leader training although some choose to do so, particularly as you point out, in areas where there aren't adequate levels of clergy to go round.
All the movable furniture and ornaments of the Church are in the legal ownership of the CW's. Clergy must be allowed use of any of these objects necessary in their ministrations. CW's can't remove furnishings/ornaments or introduce new ones without a faculty unless this is merely to replace a worn object. If any article is stolen, the CW's may take all necessary steps for its recovery and prosecution of the thief.
CW's maintain order in the Church and Churchyard, particularly during services. They may remove with reasonable force, any persons who disturb the service or show that they intend to do so. In the UK, if riotous, violent or indecent behaviour breaks out, CW's may arrest the offender under the Ecclesiastical Courts Jurisdiction Act. (And I believe that can include riotous, violent or indecent Clergy!) The homosexual rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was charged under this act when he invaded the pulpit of Canterbury Cathedral whilst ++Carey was delivering his Easter sermon in the late 1990's.
CW's are responsible for allocation of seats and alms/collections including record keeping for the latter. Whilst the general care of the Church fabric is the responsibility of the Parochial Church Council, CW's oversee much of this; e.g. dealing with insurance, heating, lighting, cleaning and maintenance of the church/parish buildings and the repair or replacement of such things as hassocks, hymn/prayer books, noticeboards etc. They relieve the Incumbent of much administrative work and are required to keep an up to date inventory of Church property. Every year they must carry out an inspection of the Church fabric/articles and a report must be submitted to the PCC along with the inventory. They generally oversee the financial responsibilities of the PCC and may also hold the office of PCC Treasurer.
During a Vacancy of Benefice there will be additional responsibilities for the CW's and they generally become sequestrators together with the Area Dean, that is, trustees for the income and property of the Benefice. They also take custody of the register books of the Church and see that the needs of visiting clergy are dealt with during the Vacancy.
Thank you, you added a lot of good imformation, thought I might add that if there is no verger, the Church warden also acts as a verger for weddings, funerals etc aswell as in the case of funerals talking to the undertakers about the grave plot before the service.
Also I didn't realise that Church wardens had the powers you mentioned above, very interesting.