Every year each chaplaincy has elections for wardens and for members of Council. To be able to stand in the elections for a warden or a member of Council, you need to have been on the Electoral Roll for at least six months, and you need to be nominated by two people. The nomination forms can be obtained at our churches, ask the stewards or wardens. The form has a place for the signatures of two people willing to nominate you. Nominations must be submitted by 8 days before the AGMs in each chaplaincy so the congregations can be made aware on the Sunday before the AGM who is standing for these positions. If there are more people nominated than positions open, then there will be an election; if there are the same or fewer number nominated than positions open, then those nominated become wardens and Council members by acclamation (without an election).
In the Diocese in Europe, chaplaincies typically have 2 wardens. In Utrecht it has been decided that there will be 6 elected members plus the ex officio members.
Chaplaincy Council is made up of the annually elected members, as well as ex officio members (the chaplain(s), two wardens, and Archdeaconry Synod representatives (voted for every three years for a three year term – this year we will vote for three in Utrecht).
What is the commitment to be a Council Member? The Council meets about 6 times per year – three times in the Autumn and three in the Winter/Spring. There are normally no meetings in July and August. We usually meet on an evening during the week from 8pm to 10 or 10.30pm. Council members receive information about the upcoming meeting (an agenda and background information for proposals) to review about a week before each meeting and are expected to be prepared for discussion when they come.
What happens at our meetings? We normally begin with prayer, then approve the minutes of the previous meeting, look at matters arising from decisions made previously, receive an update on the finances of the chaplaincy, sometimes deciding on building and maintenance proposals, and considering other proposals related to our life together and the mission of the church in our communities. Council also prepares for the Annual General Meeting. Council members are to see themselves as representing the congregation. They are to keep their eyes and ears open and to represent the needs and concerns and joys of our Christian life in community. Council sometimes chooses to appoint smaller subcommittees or working groups to provide input to Council on particular issues.
The duties of churchwardens in a chaplaincy are described in Canon E1 of the Canons of the Church of England. Here are the main duties, they:
- a) are the officers of the bishop (not the incumbent or Chaplaincy Council) (E1.4);
- b) must be the foremost in representing the laity and co-operating with the incumbent (E1.4):
- c) must use their best endeavours by example and precept to encourage the parishioners in the practice of true religion and to promote unity and peace among them (E1.4);
- d) must discharge the duties assigned to them by law and custom (E1.4).
(Examples of this are their duties in relation to the offerings or collections in the church, and the duties imposed on them by section 5 of the Care of Church and Ecclesiastical Jurisdiction Measure 1991 in relation to the church building and the land and articles belonging to it);
- e) must maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the time of divine service (E1.4); and
- f) hold the title to the movable goods of the church, must keep an inventory of those goods and keep it up to date, and must hand over the goods to their successors, who must check the inventory (E1.5).
Churchwardens oversee the temporalities of the chaplaincy, they are the signatories for financial contracts. Please speak with one of our current wardens for more information and one of the chaplains. I can provide a copy of a recent book called “Churchwardens: The Office and Role of Churchwarden in the 21st century”.
The Council elects a secretary at its first meeting, normally from one of those serving on Council. The task of the secretary is to prepare a draft agenda for Council meetings (first looked at together with the Standing Committee), to send out the materials for the upcoming Council a week beforehand, and to take minutes of the meetings when we gather and share them with Council when ready.
The secretary may also be involved in organizing the Away Day. The Secretary attends Council and Standing Committee meetings.
The Council elects a treasurer at its first meeting, normally from one of those serving on Council, but Council can agree to bring another person to serve on Council in that function. The task of the treasurer is to pay the bills, to keep track of the accounts, to provide Council with updates on the financial situation and to prepare the annual financial statement and budget. This year we are not looking for a new treasurer for either the Utrecht or Amersfoort chaplaincies.
Members of the Standing Committee of Council:
This is a small subcommittee of Council made up of the chaplain(s), wardens, treasurer and secretary. This committee normally meet twice between the Council meetings, sometimes to follow up on some decisions made at Council and always to prepare the draft agenda for the upcoming Council meeting.
I hope you will consider seriously if you may be being called to participate in the governance of our churches in one of these ways. Please pray for our churches in the coming month of preparation for our Annual General Meetings that God will provide wise and loving persons to serve.
In the love of Christ,