What is a vicar, a churchwarden, a reader...? Confused?

Vicar

Churchwarden

Reader

Readers are lay people in the Church of England, from all walks of life, who are called by God, theologically trained and licensed by the Church to preach, teach, lead worship and assist in pastoral, evangelistic and liturgical work.
The office of Reader is the only lay ministry in the Church of England which is voluntary, nationally accredited, Episcopally licensed and governed by canon. There are now over 10,000 Readers, with men and women represented almost equally.

Although nationally authorised, the scope of ministry and roles undertaken by Readers differs across the dioceses. In addition, each diocese currently provides its own programme of initial and continued training, which are moderated nationally to ensure consistency in preparing Readers for their office, supporting them and helping to keep them up to date.

PCC (Parochial Church Council)

It has been said that a parish church (the people, not the building!) is “led by the Vicar and governed by the PCC”. The Vicar gives the lead in many areas of policy, but it is the PCC which makes the final decisions. So, for example, the Vicar may think it would be a good idea to replace a crumbling Church Hall, but nothing can happen unless and until the PCC resolves to do it. The PCC controls all the money provided by the members of the church through collections and donations; vicars don’t have any funds at their disposal!

There are some decisions, even big ones, which vicars can make without even consulting the PCC, but they are mainly to do with the way they exercise their personal ministry. These may include important and sensitive matters such as the policy on church weddings for people who have been divorced. In questions like these vicars will normally consult their PCCs and agree a parish policy, but if agreement cannot be reached the vicar can and indeed must make the final decision.

So the PCC is a very important body in the life and work of a parish church.

How does the PCC cope with all its business?

PCCs are free in many respects to decide how to organise themselves. At St Mary’s we have a great deal of work to do as we are a very active church. We meet once a month and our meetings normally last about two hours. But much of the detailed work is done in our sub-committees, which handle particular areas of the church’s ministry and report to the PCC after each meeting.