The Parochial Church Council Powers Measure 1956 summarises the general functions of PCCs as follows:
It shall be the duty of the Minister and the Parochial Church Council to consult together on matters of general concern and importance to the parish.
The functions of the PCC shall include:
In the exercise of its functions, the PCC shall take into consideration any expression of opinion by any Parochial Church Meeting.
The PCC is known as a body corporate. This means that the Council has a legal identity quite separate from the individual members of which it is composed. However, the Council body is accountable for the decisions that it makes and therefore decisions need to be taken carefully showing fairness, respect for the law and be in line with the regulations of the Charity Commission. For this reason, the details of any far-reaching decision must always be prepared carefully in writing for every member of the PCC to have a chance to read and consider before it is finalised at the PCC meeting.
The PCC is also a charity by virtue of its objectives, which are essentially the advancement of religion and the making of provision of public worship. Members of the PCC are trustees of the charity and have to meet certain obligations required by charity law such as ensuring PCC funds and assets are used appropriately.
The Rules governing the conduct of PCCs are contained in the Church Representation Rules. Both these and the 1956 Measure have been much amended over the years. Key Rules governing the conduct of PCCs are as follows:
Number of meetings
PCCs must hold at least four meetings a year (as well as the Annual Meeting), spread evenly throughout the year.
A PCC is made up of all Licensed Clergy, Readers and Lay Workers in the Parish, Benefice or Team; the Churchwardens; any lay representatives on Deanery Synod, Diocesan Synod or General Synod who are on the electoral roll of the Parish; and a number of elected lay representatives whose names must appear on the electoral roll. The number of elected representatives a PCC can have is dependent on the size of the Electoral Roll.
The PCC can also decide to co-opt at least two additional members on to the PCC as long as this is not higher in number than one-fifth of the elected lay representatives on the Council. All co-opted members have to be either ordained or be lay communicants over sixteen years old. The number of elected lay members a parish can have on their PCC is dependant on the size of their electoral roll. For a roll of:
|Number on the Electoral Roll||Number of Elected Representatives|
|50 or under||6|
On this basis the number of elected lay members for North Curry is now 12, but as the roll has until recently been below 100 and there is difficulty filling vacancies the current aim is to have 9 elected members
Lay members hold office for three years and then retire but they are eligible for re-election on retirement. The annual meeting can specify a period beyond which no member of the laity can serve continuously through re-election and can specify the length of the interval before they can stand again for election to the PCC. It is usual for a third of the lay membership to retire every year.
A PCC is quorate, i.e. can conduct business, if a third of its current membership is present.
Three quarters of the members present at a meeting must consent to the transaction of any non-Agenda item of business.
This is decided by a simple majority of those members present and voting (the Chair has a second, or casting, vote if necessary).
If a meeting has to be postponed, PCC members must be given written notice of the date of the reconvened meeting within fourteen days of the postponed meeting.
Emergency meetings be convened by the Chair with at least three clear days' notice in writing. The quorum for such a meeting is a majority of PCC members and only business specified in the notice convening the meeting may be transacted.
The PCC must appoint a Standing Committee of at least five people (the Parish Priest (Curate) and Churchwardens are members ex-officio; the PCC must appoint at least another two PCC members. PCC Secretaries are usually expected to serve on the Standing Committee of the parish.).
The standing committee may be called for small ad hoc occasions when an urgent decision is required and when the PCC has given this smaller group their authority to act in a particular matter.
The PCC may appoint other committees (e.g. for Mission, Finance, Fabric, Worship, Stewardship, etc).
These notes have been compiled with reference to the two main legislative provisions called Measures governing the organisation and management of the Church of England and also draw on similar guidance published by a number of dioceses in England. They are for guidance only and not intended to be an authoritative statement of the law.
Some advance notice: All Saints (1st November) and All Souls (2nd November) will both be marked on 31st October this year. As each is a distinct feast day, we shall be holding two distinct services, and both be Benefice services: All Saints at 10am in North Curry and All Souls at 5pm in Burrowbridge.
Liturgically and theologically All Saints is a moment to celebrate the saints in heaven, known and unknown, and is a more general acknowledgement of the lives of those who have gone before as disciples of Christ across the millennia. All Souls is a much more intimate moment in the calendar, when we remember those known to us who have died recently. The last time we gathered for All Souls was 2019, before covid and before funerals were required to be so curtailed. During the pandemic so many of us lost loved ones and were unable to mark their passing in the desired way. All Souls will be a time to acknowledge this, to give thanks for all those who have died and to mark the moment appropriately. The service is open to any who grieve the loss of anyone dear to them, across all four benefice parishes.
Thank you to everyone who organised and provided a fine welcome at the charity concert last Saturday in North Curry. The concert was in aid of the North Curry "Appeal of Bells" and featured stunning performances, in particular the re-imaging of Vivaldi's Four Seasons by Fenella Humphreys (violin) for violin, percussion (George Barton), accordion (Iñigo Mikeleiz Berrade) and double bass (Ben Griffiths): an entrancing sound that gave everyone a great deal of enjoyment. And funds were raised!
The season of harvest is upon us. Our four parishes will be celebrating harvest as follows: Lyng on 5th September at 6.30pm, Burrowbridge on 26th September at 10am, North Curry also on 26th September and also at 10am and Stoke St Gregory on 3rd October at 11am.
I have already publicised the bible study we are doing next month, beginning this coming Thursday in fact. There has been a little rethinking about the times and venues. I picked the date from mid-air: it seemed the only way to get things underway. However, I have since discovered that because there is so much going on beyond the churches on Thursdays (still getting the hang of this...) I have decided to on the study twice on a Thursday. This will hopefully enable people to come along according to their own schedule.
So, the sessions will run at 4pm in North Curry (in church) and 7pm in Stoke St Gregory (in the church room). Yo can mix and match, come to one (or both!) and change from week to week. I hope that will be flexible enough for people.
Just to remind you what the study is all about, the Epistle of James has much to offer as to how we view the world as Christians. In these times of global turmoil and the ever impending onset of climate change, we need to be aware of how our faith directs our behaviour. James writes about the rich and poor, the powerful and powerless, the need to follow Christ and live in "The Way" as the early followers of Jesus described themselves. As COP26 looms over the horizon, it is worth reflecting how we, the Athelney Benefice, are part of this bigger picture.
What you need to do in preparation for the study sessions:
Not much. And nothing is obligatory! However, if you can, please do have a look at James's Epistle. Also, if you can, please do give some thought to how you step out into a world of challenge and turmoil. Also, also, if you can, please pray for how we learn together. Other than that, just turn up.