Diocese of Chichester

Guidance for Holding an Electronic or Hybrid APCM

  • 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 physically unable to attend). 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 unable to attend 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.