Guidance on Annual Parochial Church Meetings

First published on: 19th March 2021

Annual Parish Meetings

Update on arrangements for annual meetings of parishioners and annual parochial church meetings

Holding Annual Meetings online

You should hold your 2021 annual parish meetings at the usual time set in the Church Representation Rules, that is on any date from 1st January to 31st May 2021.

The Bishop has extended the instrument to allow parish meetings to take place online until 31st May this year, in order to ensure the safety and accessibility of annual parish meetings.

If you wish, you may hold your meetings this year online or in a hybrid (some people meeting in person, others online) format. This is your PCC’s choice. If you would normally expect numbers at your annual parish meetings that you can safely accommodate in your building there may be no need for any change, even if your numbers are restricted. However, if you would expect more than you can safely accommodate, or if you know of people who wish to attend but cannot safely attend in person, you may wish to offer this option.

If you choose to use an online or hybrid format, please note the following:

The rules on participation in annual parish meetings have not changed, therefore everybody must be able equally to hear the business of the meeting and be heard when they speak. In practice this means that an interactive platform (e.g. Zoom) may be used, while e.g. Facebook Live may not.

You will need to give notice of the meeting in the usual way, e.g. putting up a physical notice at the entrance to places of worship even if you are not currently holding in-person services, as well as announcing the meeting at online and in-person services for two Sundays before the meeting.

You will need to consider how votes are to be taken and recorded. Votes at annual meetings are normally taken by show of hands, which will present few problems on a video platform. Anybody present may require a recorded vote, normally on signed papers: you will need to consider to use text, chat or other function for this purpose if you need to. Note that a recorded vote at annual parish meetings is not a secret ballot.

The PCC must provide for the annual parochial meeting copies of its annual report, and of the electoral roll. Where some people are participating online you will need to find ways of making these available online, by email, or in advance paper copy.

Where meetings are held online you should consider where and how signed paperwork will be required. Nominations for churchwardens must be made in writing and in advance of the Annual Meeting (but this may be done by email). Declarations of Trustee eligibility for newly-elected PCC members should be filled in and signed in hard copy, but this may be done after the meetings if necessary.

There is no provision for proxy voting at annual parish meetings. Postal voting by those not present at the meeting is not possible unless a previous annual meeting has passed a resolution to allow it.

If you need further advice about any of this, please contact your archdeacon.

Archdeacon of St Helens & Warrington

4th March 2021


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