The Annual Parochial Church Meeting is a major event in the parochial calendar. This page summarises the guidance provided in Part 9 of the Church of England’s Church Representation Rules pertaining to this event. See below a basic summary of the key dates and deadlines, as well as all the forms you should need.
Any questions or comments can be directed to the Database Administrator at Church House.
Arrangements for 2021 meetings
In common with the majority of dioceses, it has been decided not to extend the deadline for holding APCMs in 2021, and they should therefore be held no later than 31 May 2021. However, the legal document signed by the Bishop last year, enabling APCMs and AMPs, as well as meetings of Deanery Synods and PCCs, to be held electronically, remains in effect. So decisions taken at those meetings during these exceptional times have the same force as if taken at a physical meeting. A copy of that document can be found here. If this deadline causes you particular difficulties, please contact your archdeacon.
Current Government guidance is that meetings such as APCMs should be held in person only if this is necessary to provide voluntary or charitable services.
The 4 Step plan from the Government indicates that physical meetings can go ahead from Step 3 without that limitation. The earliest date for Step 3 to come into effect is the 17th May, but this could be later depending on the situation at the time.
If the expected numbers of attendees would be manageable within your risk assessment for the church or other venue, and subject to further guidance nearer the time and any local restrictions, then it may be possible for the meeting to be held physically.
However, given the continuing uncertainty as to how far down the route out of lockdown we will have progressed even by 17 May, it may be wise where possible to set a date and plan for both a physical meeting and a virtual meeting, and to make the decision which to hold nearer the time. It seems likely that it will be permissible to hold meetings in person, but whether or not that is most appropriate will vary according to the context of your church. The following guidance is offered:
- Rules M23 to M29 of the Church Representation Rules will continue to apply, but you should also bear in mind the general principles set out in the practical considerations for annual meetings below.
- It is for the Chair to determine the arrangements for the meeting and an appropriate method of electronic or other voting, which will depend what software is being used, and whether any parishioners are attending in small groups on the same device to enable those without internet access to attend.
- Although a virtual meeting will enable essential business to be conducted efficiently and without further delay, there are certain practical considerations which need to be taken into account:
- The APCM is a meeting for all those on the church’s electoral roll. As with a physical meeting, it is important to be clear who has a right to vote and a right to speak. The purpose of this meeting is to receive the reports referred to in Church Representation Rules rule M5 and to make the elections and appointments referred to in CRR rule M6. The management of all of this in a virtual meeting is likely to be challenging and so you might wish to consider publishing the reports and proposals in advance, being clear about how the information can be accessed.
- The annual meeting of parishioners is a meeting for all those on the church’s electoral roll and all those resident in the parish whose names are on the civil electoral roll of the parish. The purpose of this meeting is to elect the churchwardens. The provisions concerning nomination in section 4 of the Churchwardens Measure 2001 continue to apply and some thought will need to be given as to how the nomination paperwork can be co-ordinated in advance of the virtual meeting.
- The new arrangements permit the meeting to take place in a virtual ‘location’ (for example, on an interactive video-conferencing platform such as zoom) and for voting to take place electronically rather than ‘in person’. It does not change the procedural requirements for the convening of the meeting and notices of it (see CRR rule M2), and some care and creativity will be needed not only to comply with these rules, but also to ensure that the meeting (and the arrangements for accessing it) are clear and widely published so that those entitled to attend are informed about it.
- The meeting must take place in a way which is inclusive (so far as is reasonably possible). Inevitably, this will mean that some may not be able to participate (for example, because they do not have access to internet or computer facilities), but it may also enable some churches to ‘host’ a meeting in a more inclusive way (for example, to include those who are shielding, or where numbers would need to be restricted in a physical meeting in order to comply with Government and Church of England guidance). It may be possible to allow some who are reluctant to use technology to gather with others to ‘attend’ together if conducting the meeting by video conference, or alternatively it may be possible to enable some who are shielding to join a physical meeting by video conference. Do note that it is possible for those without internet access to join a Zoom meeting by telephone instead and instructions can be found here.
- The platform for the meeting must be interactive such that those participating can at least hear and be heard (and preferably also see and be seen). It cannot simply be a video platform (such as YouTube) or a video with a ‘comments’ facility (such as Facebook).
- Thought will also need to be given to how voting will be conducted. Zoom includes a polling facility which enables votes to be taken. Other videoconferencing applications may also provide similar facilities.
Forms and Timeline
- The Meeting must be held no later than the 31st May
- The revision of the electoral roll must begin at the latest 6 weeks before the Meeting, and preferably 8 weeks before. Further information is available here.
- For a period including the last two Sundays before the day of the Meeting, a Notice (Word, PDF) announcing the date of the Meeting should be affixed on or near the principal door of every church and licensed public worship building in the parish. You may like to display the notice on your parish website in addition.
- The Notice for the APCM makes no provision for the Election of Churchwardens, as this is considered a different event (even though it is normal for this Election to be held at the same time as the APCM). Therefore, a Notice announcing the date of the Election of Churchwardens (Word, PDF) must also be put in place.
- The financial statements of the PCC for the previous year must be published, whether electronically or otherwise, for at least 7 days before the Meeting.
- All new Candidates to be PCC members, Churchwardens, and Deanery Synod members should provide Nomination Forms to their Parishes. These forms include a declaration for new PCC members, which is comprised of a confirmation of eligibility (i.e. non-disqualification under charity law), and a Fit and Proper Person declaration. These forms are available as follows:
- After the APCM, a notice of the result of the elections must be displayed for at least 14 days, in the same places as the notices announcing the date of the meeting. You can use the APCM Notification of Election Results Form (Word, PDF).
- At the first PCC meeting after the APCM, the PCC should appoint a Secretary, a Treasurer, an Electoral Roll Officer, and a Safeguarding Officer. A short PCC meeting with these appointments as the only agenda item is often held immediately after the APCM for this purpose.
- Please complete the APCM Return and submit it to Church House as soon as possible after the meeting, and by no later than the 14th June. It is particularly important for Church House to know about any changes to Deanery Synod representatives as soon as possible in 2021, as they play a key role in the General Synod elections which will start in July. Where possible, please complete the APCM return directly into the database via the link sent to you by email (these guidelines can be found here).
- A copy of the annual report and financial statements must also be sent to Church House within 28 days of the meeting. Please send them to the Database Administrator.
- Anybody elected as Churchwarden, Deanery Synod Representative, PCC Secretary, PCC Treasurer, Electoral Roll Officer, or Safeguarding Officer who has not already done so must fill in a Data Consent Form. This form serves the dual purpose of making sure we at the Diocese conform to the new GDPR regulations whilst also providing us with the information we need to create a contact record for you on the diocesan database. This contact record will be used to keep you informed of news and information relating to your new role.
Online forms are beneficial in that they allow data to be checked for completeness before submission. In past years, many APCM Returns have come to us unclear or incomplete, requiring us to chase parishes for further information. An online form can be made much clearer on what information we need and in what format, and will not allow submission of an incomplete form. Printing and postage costs and time will also be saved with the adoption of online forms. For questions, feedback, or anything else, please contact the Database Administrator.
If you are unable to use the online form, the APCM Return can be found in printable here ( Word / PDF). The Data Consent Form can be found in printable form here. Please post these to FAO Database Administrator, Church House, 211 New Church Road BN3 4ED, or scan and email them to the Database Administrator.
Summary of the Church Representation Rules
Attendance at the Meeting
- All Lay persons whose names are on the Electoral Roll are entitled to attend the Annual Parochial Church Meeting and take part, and no other Lay persons are so entitled. Note however that anyone resident in the Parish whose name is entered on a register of local government electors, as well as anyone whose name is on the Electoral Roll, is entitled to attend the Annual Meeting of Parishioners at which the Churchwardens are elected. The AMP is usually held immediately before the APCM
- Lay persons not on the Electoral Roll can attend at the discretion of the conveners of the Meeting
- A priest or member of clergy (as well as members of a team/group ministry) is entitled to attend if they are licensed to the benefice to which the parish belongs, if they are resident in the parish and not licensed elsewhere, if the PCC has declared them to be a regular worshipper, or if they are a co-opted member of the PCC
The Chairman of the Meeting
- The minister of the parish shall be the chairman of the council and preside over the Meeting
- In a Team Ministry, the Vicar who is entitled to preside over the meeting by the parish scheme or bishop’s licence, shall preside
- If a minister is not present or is unable to attend, the Vice-Chairman of the PCC shall preside
- If neither are present, a chairman chosen by the PCC, or in the case of a Team Ministry, the Rector, shall preside
- The Chairman has the casting vote in the case of an equal division of votes, but a clerical Chairman has no vote in the election of parochial representatives of the laity. If there is an equal division of votes in an election of a lay representative, the decision shall be taken by lot
The Business of the Meeting
- A report on the changes to the Electoral Roll (an up to date copy of the Roll is to be present for inspection at the Meeting)
- A report on the proceedings of the PCC and activities of the parish (to include a statement as to whether the PCC has complied with its duty to have regard to House of Bishops’ guidance on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults)
- A report on the fabric of the church
- A report of the proceedings of the deanery synod
- The financial statements of the PCC for the year ending on the 31/12 before the meeting
- These financial statements are to be independently examined/audited, approved and signed by the Chairman, are to be published, electronically or otherwise, for at least 7 days before the Meeting
- The financial statements are to be sent to the Diocesan Board of Finance within 28 days of the conclusion of the Meeting
- Deanery Synod Laity representatives are to be elected every 3rd year. (The next elections are in 2023, and casual vacancies before then may be filled either by election at the APCM or by appointment by the PCC)
- PCC Laity representatives and independent examiners/auditors are to be elected (sidespeople are now appointed by the PCC, not the APCM)
- Any person entitled to attend the Meeting may ask questions and bring about discussions in the Meeting
- The PCC Secretary shall act as Clerk and record minutes
Qualification for Election
- An individual shall be qualified for election to the PCC if:
- Their name is on the Electoral Roll, and unless they are under 18 years of age at the time of the Meeting, they have been on the Electoral Roll for at least the preceding 6 months
- They are an actual communicant (i.e. have received communion at least 3 times in the last 12 months)
- They are over 16 years of age (Churchwardens must be over 21 years of age)
Conduct of Elections
- All candidates for election must be nominated and seconded by persons entitled to attend the Meeting
- Nomination and Seconding can be conducted at the meeting or before the meeting in writing
- If the number of nominated candidates is not greater than the number of seats to be filled, those nominated shall be elected to those seats
- If more candidates are nominated than there are seats, then elections shall take place at the Meeting
- Votes shall be given by a show of hands, or if anyone objects to this, by voting papers signed on the back by the person casting the vote
- If at least one tenth of those entitled to vote object to either of these voting methods, voting shall take place using numbered voting papers instead
- The result of any election shall be announced as soon as is practicable by the Chairman, and a notice of the result displaying the date of the election shall be displayed at the principal door of every building licensed for worship in the parish for a period of at least 14 days after the Meeting
- The names and addresses of Laity Representatives to the Deanery Synod shall be sent to the deanery secretary by the PCC Secretary