Are you responsible?

Author: Mr Robert Culyer

Published on: 18 June 2020

As PCC members, I wonder if we know the history of them and what they are required to do?

Until the beginning of the twentieth century, the administration and finance of the parish were the legal responsibility of the incumbent and churchwardens.Parishioners had little say in the running of the church other than the electing of the churchwardens.

In 1919 PCCs were introduced, and, since then, a number of acts have defined and refined the composition, functions and rights of the PCC. The rules governing the PCC are set out in the Church Representation Rules.

The PCC is a corporate body, a separate legal entity, and is separate from the members of the PCC. The PCC is a charity by virtue of its objectives, namely the advancement of religion and making provision for public worship, and as a member of the PCC, you are a trustee of the charity. All individuals on a PCC have, and must accept, ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of their PCC.

Responsibility includes:

  • Ensuring compliance – both charity and church law;
  • Duty of prudence – ensuring that the PCC remains solvent; that funds and assets are used wisely; and avoid undertaking activities that might place the PCC’s property, funds, assets or reputation at undue risk;
  • Duty of care – as trustees you must exercise reasonable care and skill, using personal knowledge and experience to ensure that the PCC is well run and efficient.

As a PCC you are:

  • collectively responsible for the maintenance of the church buildings and churchyard;
  • the employer of any paid workers; entitled to be consulted about major changes to forms of worship used in the parish and advised about the appointment of a new incumbent.

It is also expected that as a PCC you are consulted about any pastoral schemes affecting the parish. One important thing to note is that one or more members from the PCC should be a member of the Deanery Synod to act as a link between the parish and the wider structures of the church. PCC members are elected for a period of three years and then can stand for re-election.

I appreciate that time is limited as a PCC you sometimes need a health check to ensure that you are operating as an effective body.In the booklet produced by the Archbishops’ Council and Charity Commission they list seven marks of good governance to ensure that you are an effective PCC. I would recommend having a look at this check list and see how many of the boxes that you can tick.

Further bedtime reading can be found on the Parish Resources website, and in particular the eight-page booklet entitled, ‘Trusteeship… An Introduction for PCC Members’. Download for free at news/trusteeship or contact me for a copy on 01603 882326.

Take the test…

In the adjacent article I looked at the responsibilities for individuals as PCC members. I appreciate that when a PCC meets, time is normally very limited. Whilst in lockdown why not have an online meeting and examine how effective you are as a PCC? Personally, as chair of governors at two church schools we have audits of our governing body to establish if we are working effectively, because we are accountable if our schools do not perform well. To help you establish if you are an effective PCC, the Archbishop’s Council have identified the following seven points for a PCC to consider.

An effective PCC:
1. Is clear about its purposes, mission and values, and uses them to direct all aspects of its work. PCC members always act in the best interests of the PCC, making balanced and informed decisions, and thinking long and short term.

2. Has adopted structures, policies and procedures which enable it to achieve its mission and aims and meet its objectives efficiently.

3. Sees sound governance as an important part of its stewardship. It has appropriate procedures in place and manages any conflicts of interest appropriately.

4. Manages and uses its resources (including finance, skills, knowledge, experience and assets) so as to achieve its potential. It plans and budgets effectively, including periodic review.

5. Views accountability and transparency as key values and recognises that it is accountable to wider constituents. It communicates effectively, explaining its activities and decisions in an open and transparent way whilst maintaining
confidentiality where appropriate.

6. Is flexible enough to adapt to change appropriately. Avoiding complacency, the effective PCC will want to increase its effectiveness in meeting its core object of promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church.

7. Acts with integrity, and in accordance with its values. As I said at the beginning of the article, I appreciate that you are always short of time at PCC meetings but putting this item on your agenda or having an extra meeting might just help you see where your areas of strength and areas of weakness are.

The author...

Mr Robert Culyer

Generous Giving Adviser Officer

This article is from...

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