Governance and Leadership
In the New Testament, the oversight of the church is shared among groups of leaders described variously as presbyters (elders), deacons (ministers), bishops (overseers). This suggests that responsibility for individual churches was shared, and that ministry was collaborative. But within that collective responsibility there were different roles. Most often these different roles are defined in terms of deacons and elders (overseers, at least in the early church, appear to be synonymous).
In the history of the church, two forms of oversight have jostled for position and balance. Historically, episcopal leadership has expressed itself in a very top down monarchical way. More recently, a synodical form of governance has sought to provide a more democratic, representative and pluralistic counterweight to that leadership.
The Church of England is today often described as a church “episcopally led and synodically governed.” This division of responsibility runs right through the church from top to bottom. The Archbishops of Canterbury and York lead the Church of England as a whole; they are the Primates of the Church of England. However, the General Synod provides the necessary governance to ensure the Church of England functions effectively. This is true at the Diocesan level with the Diocesan Bishop and Diocesan Synod; the Deanery level, with the Area Dean and the Deanery Synod and at the parish level, with the Vicar and the PCC. This distinction between leadership and governance has become even more pronounced following the Charities Act 2011, which categorises PCCs as charities and defines members of the PCC as trustees.
The three documents outlining the responsibilities of the PCC are the Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956, the Church Representation Rules 2011 and the Charities Act 2011.
The measure sets out the function of the PCC in this way:
“Co-operation with the minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical.”
It is clear from this description that the relationship between the Vicar and PCC is to be a collaborative partnership and a shared ministry. However, each plays a particular and different role.
For want of a better word, the Vicar is the executive. As such the primary focus of the Vicar is operational leadership:
- The Vicar initiates vision, develops strategy, formulates policy and nurtures culture, advocating for them and recommending them to the PCC.
- The Vicar, working with the staff team and pastoral leaders in the church, implements and delivers the strategy agreed with the PCC
- The Vicar is responsible for the day to day operations of the church
- The Vicar makes decisions about the day to day running of the church
- The Vicar sets ministry budgets and agrees spending
- The Vicar manages the staff team
- The Vicar acts as the interface between the PCC and the staff team
- The Vicar represents the church to the community and neighbourhood
- Where appropriate, the Vicar can share this executive function with a small leadership team that should include Churchwardens, Treasurer and other lay leaders
The PCC is effectively a board of trustees. As such, the primary focus of the PCC is governance:
- PCC holds the Vicar accountable to the vision, ethos, and the strategic framework of the church, ensuring the running of the church is properly scrutinised and monitored and that the church is doing what it was set up to do
- PCC ensures compliance, ensuring policies and procedures are in line with charity law and ecclesiastical law
- PCC holds a Duty of Prudence, ensuring financial accountability and transparency so the church remains solvent and sustainable
- PCC holds a Duty of Care, ensuring the church is well run, efficient and healthy
- PCC represents the interests of those that elected its members, ensuring effective feedback and advice to the Vicar and facilitating the participation of members of the congregation in the life of the church
In essence the Vicar has responsibility for the day-to-day decision-making and management tasks in the church, whilst the PCC has a more strategic, long-term mandate. It is as Vicar and PCC work together within this framework that the church will flourish and thrive.
The high level of collaboration that this model of ministry and leadership requires assumes a thick culture with clear ground rules and boundaries that have been agreed together. PCCs should exhibit five characteristics that will help foster a robust and healthy culture.
Though the minutes of the PCC are a matter for public record, some discussions will be confidential. In order for honest discussion to take place it’s vital that each member of the PCC honours this commitment.
Robust conversation and good disagreement is vital to a healthy PCC. However, all discussion should be conducted in a civil and respectful manner. PCC members should listen carefully to what is being said without interrupting and always respond courteously. Paul encourages the church to be gentle with one another.
The PCC is a team. As such members of the PCC have a collective responsibility for the decisions that are made. When a decision is agreed it is important for everyone to own that decision even if some were part of the dissenting minority.
PCC members should think the best of each other, even when they disagree with one another, or when someone makes a mistake or gets it wrong.
PCC members should be models of Christian maturity, exhibiting the hallmarks of a godly life and playing a full part in the life of the church. To that end all PCC members should have a passion for prayer expressed through regular attendance at Sunday services and Kingdom Come; a commitment to living life together as a member of a midweek group; a humble heart demonstrated through service on a team; and a generous spirit expressed, as far as possible, through regularly giving 10% of their income.
Current PCC Members 2017-2018
Rod Green (Vicar / PCC Chair)
Jason Gardner (Curate)
Outi Hubbard (Churchwarden / Core Team)
John Parry (Churchwarden / Core Team)
Miriam Davidson (Treasurer / Core Team)
Kate Penman (Secretary / Core Team)
Rachel Campbell (Deanery Synod Representative)
Jo McCormick (Deanery Synod Representative)