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I want to stop being a churchwarden

(37 Posts)
carlajean Sun 20-Jan-13 18:57:53

I've been a churchwarden for 1 1/2 years and, as my husband's retiring, decided I wanted to resign so that we could travel. So I emailed the PCC and vicar to give them 6 months notice (I'm stopping at the AGM, and we're going away at the beginning of May. I've reminded the Vicar 3 times that I'm finishing, but his response each time is to say that I'm still officially in post until the Archdeacon's Visitation later in May, and, if no one steps forward to take up the post, I'll officially be CW until the end of July.
I am aware that this is difficult for the church, especially as the other CW decided to stop at the same time, and no one else wants to do the job, but am I being unreasonable to be upset at how difficult they are making it for me to leave a voluntary position?

susanann Sun 20-Jan-13 19:14:33

Yanbu they are! You have given them lots of notice and reminded them. Just leave when you want too, what can they do drag you back kicking and screaming? They should be grateful for what youve done in the last 18 months

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Sun 20-Jan-13 22:29:49

Do you have some kind of contract with them?

carlajean Mon 21-Jan-13 07:30:38

no, but I've found with the CofE that there is all sorts of stuff that it's assumed that you know, like the business of waiting for the Archdeacon's Visitation before handover. To CofE people like my vicar, it seems to be written in stone, but I had no awareness of this when I started the position (and haven't signed anything).

I just did this to help out my friend, who was doing the job by herself, and have not minded doing it. But the vicar keeps on saying that I will officially be CW, although I gave them 6 months notice.

DandyDan Mon 21-Jan-13 07:37:44

I think you have given them notice so you are quite free to step down. If you are technically churchwarden until the end of May, there may be some negotiation to do over the duties that month but you are still free to step away from a voluntary post. You might be able to find someone who can cover the practical elements of being churchwarden for those weeks in May, even if you have to miss Standing Committees/PCCs etc.

If no-one else wants to do the job, that is an issue for the church as a whole (hopefully not simply for the vicar as it is hard to find new churchwardens sometimes), but it is not your responsibility to find a replacement.

Considering APCM's are usually in April, and Archdeacon's Visitations in May, I don't understand where the "end of July" consideration comes in - what will have changed by then? Also, if your church has found a new churchwarden by the time of the APCM, it is possible that the technical handover can happen earlier in May: we have had new churchwardens who have been unable to make the date of their own Visitation service and who have attended another one locally at an earlier date.

carlajean Mon 21-Jan-13 07:45:04

Apparently if no churchwarden can be found, there is a 3 month period of investigation by the diocese (hence July) and then the church is closed.

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 08:00:08

The procedure for resigning is to write to the Bishop giving two month's notice.

The church warden is elected for one year at a time, so if you do not stand again before the APCM, your period of service will automatically end on the 31st July. You can't be forced to stand.

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 08:03:28

The official term of service of a church warden is 1st August until 31st July, although most will start immediately after the APCM.

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 08:09:13

...although not in the legal sense until they have seen the archdeacon.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 21-Jan-13 18:52:15

If it's voluntary and you don't want to do it, then don't do it.

There really is nothing they can do and you're not doing anything wrong. You have zero obligation to church.

PenguinBear Mon 21-Jan-13 18:56:05

Call me stupid, but what is a church warden? I've never heard this role mentioned at our church blush blush

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 19:00:58

It's not as easy as that, Pedro. It's a legal position, and the oldest elected role in England.

But it shouldn't take more than two months to step down. You have to go through the bishop though, in writing. An email to the incumbent is not satisfactory.

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 19:03:10


A church warden is a link between the bishop and the laity.

They have a lot of diverse responsibilities, including buildings and finances, as well as clergy discipline.

It is the oldest elected office in England.

If you are in a CofE church, you have two wardens. They may be the people who count you into the services.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 21-Jan-13 19:49:35

Can you be criminally charged for stepping down from the post?

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 19:50:35

Why on earth (or in heaven) would you be criminally charged?


PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 21-Jan-13 19:58:35

You said it's a legal position. My question really is, what does that mean? If it's not a criminal offence to leave the role then what's the problem.

The Prime Minister is an elected role, but he could step down if he really wanted. Also the OP said it was done to help out a do these elections work?

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 20:02:19

Some people have the sense of duty.

It might seem odd from a secular register, but not everyone is motivated by not getting sued. They do things because they know it is right. Most churchwardens are very wholesome and fall into this camp. They tend to not worry about punishment because they walk the narrow path.

However, there are ecclesiastical courts, as set by an act of parliament.

PedroPonyLikesCrisps Mon 21-Jan-13 20:13:58

The OP wants to leave the position and believes that the church is being unreasonable. So this is not so much about sense of duty.

What do the ecclesiastical courts do? (genuinely interested).

It's not that I'm only motivated by avoiding law suits and I'm insulted that you'd suggest that the secular do not have any sense of duty. My point was that you implied that this was a legal position which made leaving it more complicated. This is clearly misleading.

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 20:18:48

The church is not being unreasonable.

There is a very simple process to follow to resign as churchwarden.

It is to write to the bishop and then be released from duties within 2 months.

The other thing is to do nothing and be released by the end of July.


It is even easier to learn the duties and responsibilities of the post before standing for election.

As for your other questions, linky

MrsHoarder Mon 21-Jan-13 20:20:15

Ffs. If someone is pressured into a role which they are told is voluntary and gives 6 months notice that they can no longer continue then they have filled their duty as far as any reasonable person can see.

The reason people are asking about repercussions is because the vicar is the person not behaving reasonably. The reasonable thing to do would have been to make an announcement as soon as possible after receiving notice that they would have to do whatever the emergency warden finding system is (I know there is one, in my old parish we got a replacement in autumn after Mr C died in post). Not refuse to accept this notice. As such the op would be within her rights to continue living her life in the way she wishes, and if the vicar is left high and dry he will have to arrange for the gap to be covered. But the OP should probably also check what the legal repercussions of doing this are and give notice higher up if possible. It would be unwise to walk away and let the vicar sort out a mess of his own making if the fallout would include a gaol term.

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 20:23:43


It is not the vicar's place to appoint or release a churchwarden.

It is the bishop's.

The OP needs to write to the bishop, not text/email the vicar.

zipzap Mon 21-Jan-13 20:29:04

Did the other cw get their resignation in just before or after yours? Ie making the vicar think that as you are the last one there he's going to hang on to you for as long as possible?

Write to the bishop If that's what needs to be done and cc in your vicar and the archdeacon. Say that it's not going to be possible to continue in the role from xxx date (and say that the vicar already is aware of this, that you have only just found out you are supposed to tell bishop too).

And then whenever the vicar tries to get you to do anything after the date, just keep repeating that you're not going to be there because you've resigned from xxx date and you're going travelling or whatever so wont be there anyway.

If you want the service that it sounds like you are supposed to have - then either say your are happy to have it before you resign (according to your dates) but you won't be available after that or that you'll stop being a cw but if you're there you will be happy to go back for the service after you have left.

What would happen normally if you wanted to go away on holiday?

MrsHoarder Mon 21-Jan-13 20:29:44

Yes but her vicar should have told her that. Not just done a broken record about July.

Hope you get it all sorted now you know op.

GinandJag Mon 21-Jan-13 20:31:39

Maybe he did...

MaryBS Mon 21-Jan-13 20:35:58

Not sure why you would be officially CW until the end of July. Yes its true that you are still in post until the Archdeacon's visitation, but they can't stop you from taking holiday in May, churchwardens are allowed to take holidays! You've told the vicar you aren't going to stand at the APCM so that should be enough, then you are not technically resigning, you're just not putting yourself up for re-election! If you are still having problems, PM me and I'll see if I can help.

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