Church representation rules

The Church of England has revised and rewritten the Church Representation Rules. These govern the way we organise our business meetings as charities.

A new set of Church Representation Rules came into force on 1st January 2020. 

The new Rules aim to simplify local church governance and enable parishes to adapt the rules to best serve ministry and mission in their contexts

In addition, the new Rules are also designed:

  • to be compliant with recent data protection legislation
  • to provide for electronic communication
  • to ensure better representation of mission initiatives in the Church’s structures
  • to enable PCCs to do business by correspondence.

While many of the principles of the previous rules remain much of the detail has been simplified and there have also been some significant changes.  

This briefing sheet highlights some of the significant changes that impact directly on our PCCs and Deanery Synods.  If you wish to discuss the changes listed below, or any aspects of these revised rules – which also form part of our individual parish’s Governing Documents as charities – then please contact Gordon Fath at St James’ House.

This briefing paper is not in any way intended to provide a comprehensive overview of all the rewritten rules.

Click here to read the full set of rules on the Church of England website

Electoral Roll

  1. A small modification has been made to the Electoral Roll application form declaration statements to include those who are also members of churches that are not in communion with the Church of England but have a Trinitarian doctrine.
  2. The Electoral Roll may now be published online, rather than on paper, at the discretion of the PCC.
  3. The published version of the Electoral Roll is only to list the names of those on it, no other personal information or marker may be included (e.g. any addresses or location in/out of parish indicator).
  4. There is no requirement to remove names from the Roll mid-year.  All deletions can be done at the normal annual revision.

APCM – Annual Parochial Church Meeting

(also known as the Annual Meeting)

  1. Annual Meetings can now be held within the time period 1st January to 31st May.
  2. The formal charity Annual Report (including accounts) of the PCC must be in a format allowed by General Synod.
  3. The Annual Report must now also include a formal statement in regard to safeguarding, as directed by the House of Bishops’ guidance.
  4. The Annual Report may be published online, rather than on paper, at the PCC’s discretion.
  5. If the Annual Meeting wishes to appoint some or all of the parish’s Licenced Readers to the PCC, this must be done annually at each APCM.  Readers with PTO, or who have Emeritus status, cannot be appointed to the PCC by the APCM and must stand for election alongside any other lay member of the parish if they want to serve on their parish’s PCC.  (Please note: Readers are not ex-officio on any Synod, PCC, or committee).
  6. The Annual Meeting no longer appoints Sidesmen or women, this task is now undertaken by the PCC.
  7. Deanery Synod representatives may only serve 2 consecutive Terms of Office (6 years) before they must stand down for one full Term of Office.  This restriction only applies from 2020 and thus Deanery Synod reps being elected in 2020 would only need to stand down in 2026.
  8. As well as Deanery Synod representatives and PCC members, an Annual Meeting may also separately elect the members of a Joint Church Council, where such a council exists (see the section at end of this briefing paper).
  9. In a tied election, the deciding random lots are drawn by the Presiding Officer.

Parochial Church Councils

  1. It is the task of the PCC to appoint Sidesmen and women.
  2. Only members of the PCC may attend PCC meetings.  Non-PCC members may only attend at the specific invitation of the PCC.
  3. There is no longer any minimum number of PCC meeting that must be held in any 12 month period.  The PCC must simply meet sufficient times to transact the business it needs to do.
  4. Within a Team Ministry (single Benefice) all the clergy licenced to the Team are members of all PCCs within that Team and may attend all PCC meetings.  Thus, each member of a Team Ministry is a Charity Trustee of each parish in their Team.    However, within a Group Ministry (multiple Benefices) while the licenced clergy within the Group Ministry may attend all PCC meetings of all PCCs within that Group Ministry and take part in all discussions, only the clergy licenced to the specific parish who’s PCC is meeting, may vote on any resolution.  Thus, clergy are only Charity Trustees of the parishes within their own benefice.
  5. On any PCC the lay members must be in a majority.  If the licencing of a Team Vicar or Curate would give the clergy a majority or equal presence on a PCC to that of the laity then that clergy person cannot become a member of the PCC.
  6. Emergency meetings may be called with whatever notice period is deemed practicable.
  7. A PCC meeting is only quorate if at least one-third of the members are present and the lay members are in a majority.  An emergency meeting of the PCC is only quorate if a majority of the members are present and the lay members outnumber the clergy.
  8. An Independent Examiner or Auditor is entitled to view all approved copies of PCC minutes.
  9. The business of the PCC may be conducted by correspondence (email) if considered appropriate by the Chair.  Any decisions made by the PCC through the correspondence method must be reported to the PCC at its next meeting.

Standing Committee of the PCC

  1. The PCC may limit the scope and powers of its Standing Committee, or give directions to its Standing Committee which the Standing Committee must then follow.
  2. The Standing Committee may not exercise any power that would require a resolution of the PCC.
  3. The size of the Standing Committee is now dependent on the number of people declared as on the Electoral Roll of the parish at the Annual Meeting,  a) If ER more than 50 then the Standing Committee consists of the Minister, 2 Churchwardens and at least 2 other people appointed by the PCC from its own lay membership,  b) If ER is 50 or less then the Standing Committee consists of the Minister and at least 2 people appointed by the PCC from its own lay membership.
  4. The Term of Office for members of the Standing Committee is until the end of the next Annual Meeting.

Deanery Synod

  1. The Term of Office for members of a Deanery Synod runs for 3 years from the 1st July following a normal election year – the next normal election year is 2020 and then every 3 years thereafter.
  2. Although a newly elected Deanery Synod representative would only take up their position on the Synod from 1st July, they are however immediately a member ex-officio of their parish PCC following their election.
  3. From 2020 onwards lay members of the Deanery Synod may only serve 2 consecutive Terms of Office before they must stand down for a period of 1 Term of Office.
  4. Co-opted members of a Deanery Synod (clergy or laity) cannot vote in the elections of those standing for a higher Synod.
  5. Worship Communities created through a BMO (Bishop’s Mission Order) may now have their own separate representation on the appropriate Deanery Synod as directed by the Bishop.

Joint Council

  1. While all existing Joint Parochial Church Councils, Team Councils and Group Councils, created under the previous versions of the Church Representation Rules will continue as is, no new councils of these types may be created.  In all future situations, a Joint Council can be created for connected parishes.
  2. Unlike its predecessors, a Joint Council (JC) is a body corporate with governing documents that are identical to a PCC.  Thus a JC has a legal identity in its own right and is a charity in the same way that any PCC is also a charity in English law.  All members of a JC are Charity Trustees.
  3. For parishes connected because they are a team, normally the clergy representatives on the JC would consist of the Team Rector and specified, not necessarily all, Team Vicars.
  4. A JC does not have any ex-officio members.  Lay members are separately elected by their respective Annual Meetings.
  5. The lay members of a JC must always be in the majority.


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