Church of England canon law states:

The churchwardens when admitted are officers of the bishop. They shall discharge such duties as are by law and custom assigned to them; they shall be foremost in representing the laity and in co-operating with the incumbent; they shall 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. They shall also maintain order and decency in the church and churchyard, especially during the time of divine service.

It seems clear that the incumbent minister ('vicar') could never legally be churchwarden. But could another ordained minister of the Church of England who worships in the parish become churchwarden?

1 Answer 1


The Churchwardens Measure 2001 states:

There are three other requirements which a person wishing to be chosen as churchwarden must normally satisfy, but which the bishop may dispense with in exceptional circumstances.

The first of these is that a churchwarden must have his or her name on the church electoral roll of the parish. There are several reasons for this:-

(a) This requirement ensures that a churchwarden is a lay person. In view of the churchwardens’ duties as leaders of the laity [...] it is essential in all normal circumstances that they should themselves be members of the laity.

So an ordained minister could only be appointed churchwarden with the permission of the bishop, and this would only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

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