The Parochial Church Council Powers Measure 1956 summarises the general functions of PCCs as follows:
It shall be the duty of the Minister and the Parochial Church Council to consult together on matters of general concern and importance to the parish.
The functions of the PCC shall include:
- Co-operation with the Minister in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church, pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical;
- the consideration and discussions of matters concerning the Church of England or any other matters of religious or public interest, but not the declaration of the doctrine of the Church on any question;
- making known and putting into effect any provision made by the Diocesan Synod, but without prejudice to the powers of the Council on any particular matter;
- giving advice to the Diocesan Synod on any matter referred to the Council;
- raising such matters as the Council consider appropriate with the Diocesan Synod.
In the exercise of its functions, the PCC shall take into consideration any expression of opinion by any Parochial Church Meeting.
The PCC is known as a body corporate. This means that the Council has a legal identity quite separate from the individual members of which it is composed. However, the Council body is accountable for the decisions that it makes and therefore decisions need to be taken carefully showing fairness, respect for the law and be in line with the regulations of the Charity Commission. For this reason, the details of any far-reaching decision must always be prepared carefully in writing for every member of the PCC to have a chance to read and consider before it is finalised at the PCC meeting.
The PCC is also a charity by virtue of its objectives, which are essentially the advancement of religion and the making of provision of public worship. Members of the PCC are trustees of the charity and have to meet certain obligations required by charity law such as ensuring PCC funds and assets are used appropriately.
Conduct of PCC business
The Rules governing the conduct of PCCs are contained in the Church Representation Rules. Both these and the 1956 Measure have been much amended over the years. Key Rules governing the conduct of PCCs are as follows:
Number of meetings
PCCs must hold at least four meetings a year (as well as the Annual Meeting), spread evenly throughout the year.
A PCC is made up of all Licensed Clergy, Readers and Lay Workers in the Parish, Benefice or Team; the Churchwardens; any lay representatives on Deanery Synod, Diocesan Synod or General Synod who are on the electoral roll of the Parish; and a number of elected lay representatives whose names must appear on the electoral roll. The number of elected representatives a PCC can have is dependent on the size of the Electoral Roll.
The PCC can also decide to co-opt at least two additional members on to the PCC as long as this is not higher in number than one-fifth of the elected lay representatives on the Council. All co-opted members have to be either ordained or be lay communicants over sixteen years old. The number of elected lay members a parish can have on their PCC is dependant on the size of their electoral roll. For a roll of:
|Number on the Electoral Roll||Number of Elected Representatives|
|50 or under||6|
On this basis the number of elected lay members for North Curry is now 12, but as the roll has until recently been below 100 and there is difficulty filling vacancies the current aim is to have 9 elected members
Lay members hold office for three years and then retire but they are eligible for re-election on retirement. The annual meeting can specify a period beyond which no member of the laity can serve continuously through re-election and can specify the length of the interval before they can stand again for election to the PCC. It is usual for a third of the lay membership to retire every year.
A PCC is quorate, i.e. can conduct business, if a third of its current membership is present.
Three quarters of the members present at a meeting must consent to the transaction of any non-Agenda item of business.
This is decided by a simple majority of those members present and voting (the Chair has a second, or casting, vote if necessary).
If a meeting has to be postponed, PCC members must be given written notice of the date of the reconvened meeting within fourteen days of the postponed meeting.
Emergency meetings be convened by the Chair with at least three clear days' notice in writing. The quorum for such a meeting is a majority of PCC members and only business specified in the notice convening the meeting may be transacted.
The PCC must appoint a Standing Committee of at least five people (the Parish Priest (Curate) and Churchwardens are members ex-officio; the PCC must appoint at least another two PCC members. PCC Secretaries are usually expected to serve on the Standing Committee of the parish.).
The standing committee may be called for small ad hoc occasions when an urgent decision is required and when the PCC has given this smaller group their authority to act in a particular matter.
The PCC may appoint other committees (e.g. for Mission, Finance, Fabric, Worship, Stewardship, etc).
These notes have been compiled with reference to the two main legislative provisions called Measures governing the organisation and management of the Church of England and also draw on similar guidance published by a number of dioceses in England. They are for guidance only and not intended to be an authoritative statement of the law.
- the Parochial Church Councils (Powers) Measure 1956 as amended. This defines the principal function, or purpose, of the PCC as "promoting in the parish the whole mission of the Church". The full text of the PCC Powers Measure in its currently amended form is on the Statute Law Database http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/Eliz2/4-5/3/contents and
- the Church Representation Rules (contained in Schedule 3 to the Synodical Government Measure 1969 as amended) The full text of the Church Representation Rules in its currently amended form is on the Statute Law Database at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukcm/1969/2/contents.