1. The Different Levels
The Parish is a geographical area. In our case its boundary is the same as the village boundary, there being only one Anglican church building.
A number of parishes are linked together to form a Deanery; our Deanery comprises Huntingdon and villages to the north and west.
A Diocese (which has a Bishop and a Cathedral) is a larger area, linking several Deaneries. Ely Diocese covers most of Cambridgeshire and parts of Norfolk.
2. Leading the Levels
Leadership is exercised in this way:
Each Parish Church has a Parochial Church Council (the PCC), whose responsibilities are both legal and spiritual. This Parish Church is also registered as an independently charity.
Each Parish Church elects a certain number of representatives (depending on the size of the Church) to the Deanery Synod.
The Deanery Synod elects a certain number of clergy and laity to the Ely Diocesan Synod.
The Diocesan Synod elects a certain number of clergy and laity to the General Synod, a national; structure.
3. The Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM)
Each year, the Parish Church holds an Annual Meeting. At that occasion we look back over the last year, look forward to the coming year and elect certain people: churchwardens (annually), Deanery Synod representatives (for each term of the synod), and other members of the Parochial Church Council – usually referred to as ‘the PCC’ (one third each year). APCM Minutes
4. The Electoral Roll
Each Anglican Church has an Electoral Roll. This is completely revised every few years but, in the intervening years, names are added during the year – and especially around Easter -before the APCM.
Being on the Roll enables you to vote at the APCM. One of the qualifiers to join the Electoral Roll is that you have been a regular worshipper at St James’ the previous six months.
5. The Functions of the PCC
The functions of the Parochial Church Council fall into two broad areas:
I. As defined in ‘Church Law’, the PCC is to:
Co-operate with the incumbent in promoting the whole mission of the Church: pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.
Consider and discuss matters concerning the Church of England as a whole.
Receive issues from, or refer issues to, the other bodies: Deanery Synod, Diocesan Synod and General Synod.
Manage the financial affairs of the local Church.
Oversee the fabric of the church (and its contents) and the churchyard: care, maintenance, insurance, etc.
Oversee the care and maintenance of other buildings belonging to the Church. In our case the Parish Centre and the two ministers’ houses. The Vicarage is maintained by the diocese.
II. Most PCCs also:
Act as representatives for the whole Church.
Have a prayerful concern and oversight for all areas of Church life.
Assess new initiatives, and where necessary, take a lead.
Set and review our Mission Action Plan to achieve our vision.
Our PCC members are also trustees and the PCC is the member of each of our two Community Interest Companies—The Post Office and the Hemingford Garden Room.
6. Membership of the PCC
The PCC at St James’ includes:
Those elected at the APCM: one third appointed each year for a term of three years.
Two churchwardens, appointed annually;
The Deanery Synod representatives, who are appointed for a term of three years; and
Lay ministers also attend the PCC meetings in a non-voting capacity.
7. Meetings of the PCC
Our current practice is that the PCC meets ten times a year on the first Wednesday evening of the month.
8. Standing for the PCC
Any member of the church who is on the Electoral Roll can be nominated for churchwarden, Deanery Synod representative, or PCC member.
Appropriate further information and nomination forms will be available in the weeks prior to the APCM.
9. Church Leadership in the New Testament
While the New Testament encourages certain patterns of church life and leadership, there is no detailed blueprint provided for all situations, for all time.
In the New Testament, ‘elders’ led the churches. This term owes its origin to the Jewish synagogue, where a body of elders was responsible for the general supervision and direction of the assembly.
The Christian elders were given ultimate responsibility and authority to see that the church remained on a Biblical pathway, that its members were being appropriately guided, that the body was being fed through insightful and accurate Biblical teaching, and that the life of the church was being well-managed with the assistance of other competent and godly leaders.
They were to care about the spiritual and physical well-being of members, regularly praying for the sick.
They were to guard the body against harmful influences, confronting those who were contradicting Biblical truth or who were continuing in patterns of sinful behaviour.
In so doing, they were to see that the truth of Christ remained credible to both congregation and community. Further reading: Acts 20:28-31, Titus 1:9, James 5:14, 1 Peter 5:1-4.