Ever wondered what it's like to be a churchwarden?
Hazel Massey, the churchwarden at St Wilfred's, West Hallam, says it's more than just a position, it's a vocation.
So if you've ever thought that you might be called to do work for the church, but not inclined to be ordained, read on...
I’m sure most of you are aware that as a churchwarden generally we have responsibility for the fabric of the building and work with the Priest to enable worship to happen.
I am a volunteer and this a part of how I can give back to my faith and church.
However, don’t be fooled - I’ve found that it can be a full time job if I let it and can spend hours in church. But it is a privilege and pleasure to hold this role and that so varied are the tasks from one day to another.
I may be risk-assessing the tower, or being woken up by someone wanting to know the venue and time of that days services.
I may be baking for an event or in a meeting with Archdeacons and registrar etc. Churchwardens are contacted about so many things from ”we need more loo rolls”, people are hanging around the church yard or the alarm is going off or maybe we need a verger for a wedding, baptism or funeral.
However I will never be the one to remove spiders! That’s definitely the other warden's remit!
Sundays are the busiest – it’s not just setting up for services and opening doors etc, it’s making sure the right linen is on and as we’re a multi parish benefice – that when the minister does arrive to lead the service only moments before its due to begin they have all they need already prepared for them as they will have come from another church.
Quite often we also hear all the moans and groans that occur – ‘the church is too cold/ too warm’ the children were too loud, the sound system didn’t work, the vicar didn’t… or we haven’t seen the vicar, just a few examples.
Also, when people on the rotas don’t turn up – we find someone else if we can or just do it ourselves. I’m really grateful that there are two of us otherwise it would be an impossible task.
But to be fair we also get to sit in meetings, have regular meetings/catch ups with the vicar, and generally, hopefully, know what’s going on.
Most churchwardens are also on other committees, school governors, youth, safeguarding or whatever they can do to use their gifts to enable the church to function and when we are in an interregnum there are more committee meetings about ‘who will be the next parish priest?’
Don’t get me wrong it’s not all committees or moans and groans, although we hear a lot of those, there are also the fun things like helping people come to faith, prepare for their wedding, being a listening ear, …. and so much more.
A churchwarden also holds a license from the Bishop, to whom we are responsible.
I love my role and all the fascinating rules and regulations that you find out about the Church of England – some can really be annoying when you want to do something and need something called a 'faculty form' but there are others which are fascinating and rather bizarre -….?
Being a churchwarden is a vocation – you have to love what you do. Vocation is something that emerges, and continues to emerge, throughout life — coaxed out by prayer and conversation, shaped by God, and confirmed by the church community.
God has a plan for you; it just may be a surprising one not what you think it will be.
Sunday: Busy day! I arrive for 10.15am but it’s not just setting
up for services and opening doors, it’s making sure the
right linen is on the altar and as we’re a multi-parish
benefice, the minis ter has all they need for when they
arrive from another church. After church, I go for lunch
with a group of older single ladies from church -
always a treat and enjoy the catch-up. At 4.30pm, back
to church to prepare for evening Holy Communion.
Monday: This morning I had a deanery safeguarding leads
meeting. In the afternoon I rang a member of the
congregation to arrange to go for coffee and a chat
re an issue for church. After, I went along to the local
school for a meeting with s taff and governors.
Tuesday Off to church for 8.30am to attend Morning Prayer.
Attended the Deanery Synod Meeting in the evening.
Wednesday Met with the person I rang on Monday for the coffee
Thursday This morning, I attended “News Chat”. We are extremely
pro ud as it was awarded the diocese Best New Fresh
Expression last year.
Saturday Picked up my friend and drove to Loscoe for Jason
Kennedy’s session on “Talking faith”. Busy afternoon as
took sandwiches to the “Refectory at the Rectory” faith
lunch. Started on some preparations for tomorrow -
which you already know is my busiest day of the week!
Next weekend will be very busy due to the village well
dressings. The church seating needs to be moved around
completely. I will be in church a lot of Thursday,
Friday and Saturday. Thursday and Friday to set up
the displays and refreshment tables then risk assess;
Saturday whilst people are in the church as it gets VERY
busy and we have to address health and safety issues.
Hazel's story also appeared in issue 2 of Together Magazine.