Theme: The Man Whom God Uses: The Man of Faith
Seminar: The Relationship of the Vicar and the Parish Church Council
There is a unique way that God uses men and women in the Anglican Communion. Like in most denominations, God uses men and women in His Vineyard to accomplish His Mission of saving souls and reconciling the world to Himself. But the Mission is divided into grading units. For anybody to be effectively relevant and profitable, he must be able to know his duty in a team.
A lot of problems have been created in many parishes because those who are eager to work fail to know the organogram (organizational chart) of the Anglican Communion thereby going beyond or below their boundaries.
For the purpose of this paper, let us look at some definitions of the relevant terms:
- The Vicar: According to Wikipedia, “Vicar is the title given to certain parish priests in the Church of England. It has played a significant role in Anglican Church organization in ways that are different from other Christian denominations. Vicar derives its meaning from the latin “vicarious” meaning a substitute. According to Constitution of the Diocesan Synod 2000 (As Amended) Chapter 1 (26), a vicar means “a clergyman in Priests’ Order, who is appointed to take charge of a parish”.
- The Church Warden: The word “warden” comes from the middle-English word “wardein” which means gbto “guard”. He is the elected guardian of the parish. Wardens hold the highest non-ordained elected authority in the congregation. In order words, they take precedence after the Vicar. He is a lay official of a parish or congregation of the Anglican Communion, usually working as a part-time volunteer. The holder of this position is an ex-officio member of the Parish Council or in the case of the Cathedral, Chapter. It is the duty of a Church Warden to cooperate with the Incumbent (Vicar) for the progress of the Parish.
- Parish Church Council (formerly Parochial Church Council) PCC: It is the executive committee of an Anglican Parish. In the Church of England, the remaining functions of the vestry meetings of parishes, and of the churchwardens of parishes, (those which had not been transferred to parish councils and other local authorities in the 19th century) were transferred to the PCCs by the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1921. The duties of the PCC include:
- To cooperate with the Incumbent (Rector or Vicar) of the Parish in promoting the mission of the Church in the Parish
- To be responsible for the financial affairs of the Church and the care and maintenance of the Church Fabric and its contents. This particular duty is now being executed by the Churchwardens in trust.
One striving revelation from the above definitions is that no organ of a parish can perform effectively without the other ones. The relationship among these organs must be mutual, interdependent and cooperative.
The relationship between the Vicar and the Parish (Parochial) Church Council must be strong and deep for the Parish to progress and develop. For this relationship to be genuine, the following points must be considered:
- The Vicar and the PCC members must have a relationship with Christ Jesus. Romans 8: 14. For the church to be peaceful and growing, the leaders must be children of God
- There must be a common purpose. The purpose for a PCC is to contribute to the growth of the diocese and the archdeaconry, develop a parish, take good care of the men of God etc. if the purpose is selfish, faulty, partial and non-Christian, the relationship can never be smooth.
- They must be able to listen to and understand each other. Don’t come to any meeting with a pre-conceived idea. Everybody must be broad and objective.
- The Vicar must never be anti-people and the Council must not be anti-Vicar. The mission of the Church is to preach Christ and Him crucified. Our meetings should be a discussing gatherings and not a fighting centre.
- The members must be ready to learn new facts. To be literate is to learn, unlearn and relearn. No member should be too parochial.
- Decisions must never be taken based on nepotism and favoritism. The council must not be sub-divided into Pro-Vicar and Anti-Vicar.
- Decisions taken in a meeting must be defended by all; even by those who didn’t support the idea. Decisions also should be subject to change when new facts emerge
- Members, at the entering, should note that the Church is a theocratic organization and not a democratic organ. No decision can be taken until the Vicar and the Council are on the same page.
- For the smooth running of the Parish, the Incumbent and the Wardens must be friends and not enemies. The notion that the the Vicar and the Wardens must not be close is satanic.
- Everyone must be committed to the Mission of the Church. You are in the Council because God wants to use you for His purpose.
- Our secular experience and expertise are good for the Church but let it be noted that the Church (the Just) must continue to live by faith. The council must not be a place where the bible, God’s directives and divine directions are downplayed and where human efforts, philosophies, experiences and wisdom are placed above God.