Last updated 18th May 2023
The PCC Secretary booklet has been updated to take into account the new Church Representation Rules 2020. It provides information for PCC Secretaries and those administering PCCs. It covers meetings, how to keep records, and where to find help and assistance. As well as the matrix of returns referred to in the booklet, we have also produced a 'calendar' for making returns.
The letter regarding 2023 visitations and APCMs which has been sent to PCC Secretaries and Administrators on 1 March 2023 is here. It contains details about the process leading up to visitations and requests that the Archdeacons' office is advised of any new churchwardens following the APCM.
There is a new resource for Secretaries and Administrators called the Life Events diary, which is FREE! It is designed to work with any parish structure to help manage your Baptisms, Banns, Weddings and Funerals, providing records and templates.
Follow this link for more information https://www.lifeeventsdiary.org/. Feedback has been really positive so worth a look.
For any queries, please contact Gillian Beeley or Kelly Quinn in the Archdeacons' office. e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
For any financial information please see also the Parish Finance section under the Resources tab on the website.
The Lancashire Archive Office has offered the following advice on archiving parish records.
Lancashire Archives cares for most of the original records from Church of England parishes in the Diocese of Blackburn. At our specialist archive premises in Preston we securely store huge collections of parish records and help visitors to use the records for their local and family history research.
The Diocese of Blackburn parish records contain thousands of minute books, account books, letters, title deeds, plans and photographs – as well as the more commonly used registers of baptisms, marriages and burials. The collections tell the stories of communities throughout Lancashire and are of vital importance to the history of the County.
You can find out more about which parishes we hold records for by using this guide Church registers guide - Lancashire County Council or searching our online catalogue LANCAT: Home Page (lancashire.gov.uk).
You can arrange to view material at the Archives by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01772 533039.
Lancashire Archives helps the Diocese of Blackburn fulfil its responsibilities in preserving church records. We actively collect material from parishes and welcome enquiries concerning the transfer of new records to the archives. Please contact us at email@example.com and we can offer advice on the types and formats of records of historic value, or to arrange a deposit of material.
At the PCC Secretaries training event on 11th October 2017 there were a number of questions asked, the answers to which are shown below along with links to the presentations
Who writes the agenda? All agenda items need to go to the secretary. Items for the agenda can be suggested up to a week before the meeting. See Church Representation Rules Appendix II para 6 no business which is not specified in the agenda shall be transacted at any meeting except by the consent of three-quarters of the members present at the meeting.
Can the minutes of the PCC meetings be displayed on the notice board? Once the minutes of the meeting have been signed by the chair, they can then be distributed to anyone on the church electoral role who asks to see them. Any confidential items must be omitted from the minutes which are distributed. A good method of practice would be to use a different colour of paper for the confidential items so they may be easily identified. If you are going to display them, you must first consider who and how many people might read them? And, aremany people might read them? And, are they entitled to see them?
How do you dispose of additional copies of the minutes? Shred or dispose by some other confidential waste system.
Does the Freedom of Information act apply to churches? The law regulating public access to official information held by public bodies as defined in the schedule of the Act. This law generally does not apply to the Church of England, except marriage registers dated after 1837, which technically belong to the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
How long should the minutes be kept for? Minutes should be kept for 5 years after the last action. They must then be permanently deposited with the archivist. Useful information regarding retaining parish records is here
Could a “snapshot” of the minutes be displayed? This depends on the discussion in the minutes. If this can be done without breaking confidentiality, then theoretically, yes you can. The discussion however, could be taken out of context. This decision should be made by the PCC. The minutes may need re-writing for this as a result. In some churches, a churchwarden or other member of the PCC may give a brief report on the meeting in a church service (e.g. during the notices).
Should there always be a hard copy of minutes (in a minute book)? It is recommended that a signed hard copy of PCC minutes is kept in a minutes book that is kept in the church safe. Alternatively, a hard copy of the minutes should be kept in a lever arch file with a 12-part divider system (one per month) in a locked cupboard in church. An electronic copy can also be kept on a CD/R or memory stick in case of a computer malfunction but these can become corrupt and in the cases of technology upgrades, may not be compatible. (This is confidential information so must be kept in a safe place.)
What should the retention policy be of someone handing over their role as PCC secretary ie retaining minutes on their computer? Please refer to the Care of parish records guidance. NB The document is from 2009 and so the data protection section will be superceded by the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulations in 2018.
What are the contact details for the county archivist (Jacquie Crosby) to whom completed baptism and banns registers should be sent? Historic records and completed registers (not weddings) should be sent to:
What documents will the Lancashire Archives keep? You can contact them at www.archives.lancashire.gov.uk and make an appointment if you are unsure of what you should and shouldn’t keep. They will keep meeting minutes from PCC and APCM , but they must be in order, with page numbers and headers detailing meeting dates. There have been occasions where papers haven’t been tidy and in order and this is why some parishes have seen a reluctance to accept paperwork.
Detailed below is a brief outline of what can be kept and disposed of.
The parish must keep:
The following must be kept secure:
The parish may keep:
The parish should dispose of (when no longer needed):
What guidance is there about the liability of PCC members as trustees of a charity? The prosecution of trustees who have acted in good faith is a rare event. Hundreds of thousands of people have acted as trustees to charities and other civil society organisations for many decades without incident and where something has gone wrong, the law generally seeks to protect individual trustees from personal risk where they have acted in good faith and complied with their trustees’ duties. Documents that provide more guidance are: Legal status of a PCC and summary of potential liabilities as a charity trustee
How long can someone serve on the PCC? Page 18, section 17 of the Church Representation Rules stipulates that the number of years served must be decided by the PCC. For example, they may suggest 2 terms of three years and if the person wishes to stand for re-election after a specified interval period, they may. PCC members are Trustees of a charity, and the Charity Commission guidance suggests a maximum of 9 years, again with the potential to agree to extend this.
Is trustee liability insurance available? Yes. The Ecclesiastical Insurance ParishGuard Policy includes Church Council and trustee indemnity insurance (section 11). It is recommended that PCC members are made aware of the 'what is not covered' section. Other insurers and products are available.
How does the £100k limit for registration with the Charity Commission apply in multi-parish benefices? The legal entity is the PCC and not the united benefice, team or plurality, and it is the PCC that must produce accounts in the statutory format and to whom the £100k limit applies.
Does the Fire Service need to be involved with fire risk assessments? No. However, to comply with the Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 regulations a Responsible Person must conduct a comprehensive risk assessment. NB The regulations are enforced by the Fire Authority who may inspect the premises to check that the regulations are being carried out.
What questions will an Archdeacon and/or Area Dean ask should they come for a Parish Visitation? All PCCs are encouraged to ensure that they know the answers to the Parish Visitation questions whether or not they are selected for a visit.
Does each church have a parish box? Each parish has a box that is currently kept in Church House (next to the Cathedral). You can view the contents of your box by making an appointment with the Diocesan Registry Team. Registry@Napthens.co.uk
Is there a template for hall/church buildings letting agreement? Premises Letting Agreement
Is there a risk template available for PCCs to use? Generic risk assessment template
Do you need a letter of engagement to appoint a new Independent Examiner? Particularly for larger PCCs, it is recommended that, in order to reduce the chance of any misunderstanding, the independent examiner should write to the PCC detailing its accounting responsibilities and the examiner’s statutory responsibilities. Further guidance can be found in PCC-Accountability-5th-Edition-Chapter-11-Guidance-for-Independent-Examiners