What is the role of a PCC member?

“The PCC’s purpose is to co- operate with the minister on matters of general concern and importance to the parish, and to promote the whole mission of the church in the parish.”
Mark Tanner. The PCC member’s Essential Guide.

Right? So should every PCC member support the incumbent in every respect even when they think (know) that s/he has got something wrong?

Comments

  • No. Support doesn't mean that. Challenging is sometimes also support.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    I will have to pluck up courage to tell our Priest that.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    So when he says, “ If you can’t support the changes I have made then you should consider your position”, I take this to mean he does not expect to be challenged,
  • Indeed ... and (to my mind) wrongly.

    See Section 3.1 of this document: https://tinyurl.com/y7hod3jo.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    Yes indeed.
    But pointing out areas where we are not upholding our responsibilities ( fortunately not in connection with Safeguarding) leads to an accusation of criticism and being unsupportive.
    I am not sure how much longer I can tolerate this.
  • Mark Tanner has (quite rightly) lifted this wholesale from s. 2 of The Parochial Church Council (Powers) Measure 1956, as amended by s. 6 of The Synodical Government Measure, 1969. ‘Co-operate with’ is not the same as ‘support’. It is about (literally) working together, so undeclared or open hostility or obstruction are also ruled out.

    Ideally the interaction of a fresh view from outside with the detailed local knowledge of long-termers can be very fruitful, but there obviously can be problems - especially if objectives differ, but also if there is disagreement about means.

    So maybe a successful-elsewhere good idea really won’t work in your parish, or maybe a long-treasured tradition, valued by those who enjoy it has no chance of helping the church grow. Maybe there a space for compromise.

    E.g. in my m-in-law’s church, a new vicar had no time for a fairly traditional evening service. It turned out, though that he was very happy for it to be lay-led, and do it continued right through his incumbency, and he attended from time to time.
  • LydaLyda Shipmate
    Constructive criticism can support the mission of the church.

    When he says, "If you can’t support the changes I have made then you should consider your position”, you can reply, "I have. In this instance I'm the loyal opposition."
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited September 7
    Puzzler wrote: »
    But pointing out areas where we are not upholding our responsibilities ( fortunately not in connection with Safeguarding) leads to an accusation of criticism and being unsupportive.
    I am not sure how much longer I can tolerate this.
    I have faced exactly the opposite problem as a Minister, i.e. wanting to promote safeguarding and good practice but encountering great resistance from among the Baptist equivalent of the PCC (which, in a congregationalist set-up, carries a lot of clout). Eventually the aggravation became too much for me. Not that saying that helps you much!

  • Puzzler wrote: »
    Yes indeed.
    But pointing out areas where we are not upholding our responsibilities ( fortunately not in connection with Safeguarding) leads to an accusation of criticism and being unsupportive.
    I am not sure how much longer I can tolerate this.
    In addition to what @Lyda said, I think the answer to this can be something along the lines of, "I am supporting you, and I'm trying to make sure that you are successful here. I'm doing that by making sure you hear the perspectives you need to make an informed decision, so that you have the best chance of success."

    Whether he will have ears to hear . . . .

  • Lyda wrote: »
    Constructive criticism can support the mission of the church.

    When he says, "If you can’t support the changes I have made then you should consider your position”, you can reply, "I have. In this instance I'm the loyal opposition."

    Yes, as ultimately we're all responsible to God, not the vicar. And if s/he stoops to emotional blackmail, then s/he is not fit to be a priest.

    Puzzler, if all else fails, resign, for the sake of your own well-being. That wouldn't preclude you from continuing to be a loyal member of the congregation.

    IJ

  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    I like the idea of a loyal opposition.

    If I were to resign now I feel it would be seen as a sign that I am not in favour of the changes and am not supportive of the new incumbent.

    I know we need to change, and I am happy with some of the changes, eg new All- Age worship, but I do not feel change has been handled sensitively, nor has due regard been taken of the views of a number of people, especially those of us who have appreciated a dignified liturgical and musical style of service, which has more or less gone.

    I still feel that there is a need on the PCC for people who are not automatic Yes men. People who can pick up points that need addressing, keep chivvying away at areas of concern.
  • In charity and trust law, there is a requirement for Trustees (aka the PCC in this case) to exercise Governance, Leadership and Management. Not being prepared nor allowed to question breaches all 3 basic standards and should be addressed.
  • Agree 100%. But I would suggest that the actual relationship "on the ground" between a Vicar and the PCC is slightly different to that between the a Baptist Minister and their Deacons.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    As a start, look at the parish administration ordinance in your diocese. That should clearly define the roles of rector, wardens and PC members.
  • Agree 100%. But I would suggest that the actual relationship "on the ground" between a Vicar and the PCC is slightly different to that between the a Baptist Minister and their Deacons.

    Nope. They are charity trustees and have exactly the same responsibilities. How that is worked out may be slightly different but the CofE is most certainly not above the law as it applies to Baptist churches.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    As a start, look at the parish administration ordinance in your diocese. That should clearly define the roles of rector, wardens and PC members.

    There are wider legal implications beyond the church, linked to its charitable status
  • Agree 100%. But I would suggest that the actual relationship "on the ground" between a Vicar and the PCC is slightly different to that between the a Baptist Minister and their Deacons.

    Nope. They are charity trustees and have exactly the same responsibilities. How that is worked out may be slightly different but the CofE is most certainly not above the law as it applies to Baptist churches.

    Of course. But someone the "feel" of things isn't quite the same IME.
  • The more you post about this chap the clearer it becomes that he is either very inexperienced - in which case, what the hell was his training vicar doing? - or a bully; or perhaps both.

    There should be some way for you to have an informal meeting with someone at diocesan level to express your concerns in a general way and give them a thumbnail sketch of what is going on and being said. If you do this with a genuine and loudly expressed desire to help someone who is clearly floundering then it should yield some improvement.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Gee D wrote: »
    As a start, look at the parish administration ordinance in your diocese. That should clearly define the roles of rector, wardens and PC members.

    There are wider legal implications beyond the church, linked to its charitable status

    Hence the words "as a start". But here at least our local diocesan ordinance is framed to take much of those into account.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Gee D wrote: »
    As a start, look at the parish administration ordinance in your diocese. That should clearly define the roles of rector, wardens and PC members.

    I had the misfortune recently to have to wade through the canons and ordinances pertaining to PCC (vestry) in the diocese in which I'm exercising an interim priest in charge role at the moment. My goodness it's a hotchpotch of random entries across a potpourri or legislation. Mind-bogglingly vague and vacuous.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    The Sydney ordinance, which is the only one I have any familiarity with, is not too bad.
  • Over the years, various members of my family have been on the PCC. They have found a handbook very useful in giving information about what exactly PCC members can and can't do. The handbook can be quoted at times of disagreement to emphasise correct procedure. Back in the day, the recommended handbook was MacMorran. It may be another one now, but worth checking to see which one is recommended in your diocese, purchase it, read it, and know the procedures. You never know when it might come in handy.
  • LeoLeo Shipmate
    Ive been on 4 different PCCs as I have moved around the country. Martin Dudley's Serving the Parish https://layreadersbookreviews.wordpress.com/2018/09/09/serving-the-parish-martin-dudley-virginia-rounding/ has a brilliant section on 'How to be the most annoying PCC member'.
  • It's a two way street: the PCCs obligation to "cooperate" can, and should, involve challenge and the priest's obligation to "consult" does not necessarily or automatically guarantee their assent to majority opinion.
  • Alas, that is all too true.

    Even on the odd occasions on which he consented to 'consult' (which meant having a private confabulation with our late churchwarden), our former (and now, thankfully, retired) p-in-c simply went on to do just what he liked.

    Fortunately, there were not that many occasions when this happened, as he was too busy being uxorious with his Lovely Wife to bother about the church and parish.

    IJ
  • I get the impression that you didn’t rate him much @Bishops Finger
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Bishop's Finger - Sydney Anglican clergy have Lovely Wives, and either have or are on the way to rounding out with 3 Lovely Children also. I did not know that that strange school of theology had found its way to your parish.
  • Gee D wrote: »
    Bishop's Finger - Sydney Anglican clergy have Lovely Wives, and either have or are on the way to rounding out with 3 Lovely Children also. I did not know that that strange school of theology had found its way to your parish.
    My lovely wife and I have three children. We don’t live in Sydney though, but I wouldn’t mind.

  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    But is she a Lovely Wife?
  • Baptist TrainfanBaptist Trainfan Shipmate
    edited September 20
    We only have one child. But, then, we're not Anglican. And, although I dearly love my wife, she is not Lovely, in the way suggested!
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    You just look at any parish website for a Sydney Anglican church and you'll see reference to the rector's having a lovely wife (and children). No lovely husbands in Sydney as women priests are not permitted. Still living in the past.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited September 20
    Gee D wrote: »
    But is she a Lovely Wife?
    Not in the Christian trophy wife who pops out kids and spends all of her time submitting to my most unreasonable demands sense, no. She’s an amazing, woman with a successful career; a brilliant mum, and a wonderful friend.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Yes, I assumed that very different usage!
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    Gee D wrote: »
    Bishop's Finger - Sydney Anglican clergy have Lovely Wives, and either have or are on the way to rounding out with 3 Lovely Children also. I did not know that that strange school of theology had found its way to your parish.

    Three? In my days of exposure to That Form of Evangelical™ it was only two. A boy had to be born first, preferably with a New International Version or perhaps New American Standard version of the bible in his hand. A girl came next, roughly two years later, with a copy of The Peaceful Wife: Living in Submission to Christ as Lord in her pinafore pocket.

    And yes, sadly that book exists.
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    edited September 24
    Zappa wrote: »
    Gee D wrote: »
    Bishop's Finger - Sydney Anglican clergy have Lovely Wives, and either have or are on the way to rounding out with 3 Lovely Children also. I did not know that that strange school of theology had found its way to your parish.

    Three? In my days of exposure to That Form of Evangelical™ it was only two. A boy had to be born first, preferably with a New International Version or perhaps New American Standard version of the bible in his hand. A girl came next, roughly two years later, with a copy of The Peaceful Wife: Living in Submission to Christ as Lord in her pinafore pocket.

    And yes, sadly that book exists.
    I hope it's not as bad as Feminine Appeal: Seven Virtues of a Godly Wife and Mother which is a genuinely terrible book, and that's coming from the perspective of a soft complementarian such as myself.

  • 4.3 stars on Amazon, magnilo.

    4.7 for Zappa's.
  • Gee DGee D Shipmate
    Seems to have increased to 3, judging by the biographies on parish websites. One of each to preserve the species and the population at its present level, then an extra to help growth and just in case as well.

    I'll search out those books
  • Climacus wrote: »
    4.3 stars on Amazon, magnilo.

    4.7 for Zappa's.

    Yay! I win. Just goes to show that Amazon reviews are, generally speaking, a mass exercise in confirmation bias. I mean 4+ stars? Really?
  • Bishops FingerBishops Finger Shipmate
    edited September 25
    I rather wish I hadn't mentioned Lovely Wives.....
    :confused:

    My point was, IIRC, that priest/minister & PCC members should concentrate on the important issues relating to the church/parish, leaving personal circumstances aside.

    Our Father Fuckwit was, alas, unable to do this, though (in all fairness) he is a Good And Decent Chap.

    In some ways.

    But not all (IMHO).

    IJ
  • wabalewabale Shipmate
    Puzzler wrote: »
    I like the idea of a loyal opposition.

    I still feel that there is a need on the PCC for people who are not automatic Yes men. People who can pick up points that need addressing, keep chivvying away at areas of concern.

    Hi Puzzler. Having read this thread, and the others relating to your new incumbent, I just want to express sympathy, reinforce the items of excellent advice you’ve already received, and perhaps add a couple.

    When vicars demand what amounts to personal loyalty it’s bad enough. But in a way P.C.C. members who keep quiet out of so-called ‘loyalty’ to the vicar are even more disheartening, and, as has been pointed out, they are not doing the job they were elected to do. It is perhaps your fellow PCC members you need to work on, with the aid of the ‘Essential Guide’, and perhaps the penny will then drop with your incumbent that he has a team to lead and not just individuals to bully.

    The C of E does, I believe, sometimes give a degree of training to ordinands as to how to exercise their future leadership roles. But there still seem to be a lot of ‘imperial’ vicars about. My daughter recently moved away from one such church, and her mother-in-law from another.

    The church where I have worshipped for 40 years ‘lost’ two vicars. In both cases they had pursued their own agendas by deliberately marginalising the P.C.C. In the first case (as a rookie churchwarden) I had to blow the whistle, just about in time as it turned out; in the second (by which time I had become a rookie Reader) I was preparing to take my family to the Baptist church in the neighbouring village - when the vicar resigned.

    There should be some way for you to have an informal meeting with someone at diocesan level to express your concerns in a general way and give them a thumbnail sketch of what is going on and being said. If you do this with a genuine and loudly expressed desire to help someone who is clearly floundering then it should yield some improvement.

    Knowing someone at diocesan level proved crucial in our own (first) case, when the bishop’s initial reaction to the troubles I had flagged up was to blame the ‘rebellious’ congregation. It was another senior person, who knew us rather better, who was able to correct the bishop’s take on the situation - and probably prevented a major catastrophe becoming a total collapse.

    One cautionary tale arising from our second difficult vicar’s decline and fall: a member of the PCC who couldn’t stand bullies ‘took the vicar on’, got elected churchwarden on that ticket, but afterwards took a long, long, time before he stopped throwing his weight around, with all kinds of people, in a particularly grumpy way - much like the vicar had in fact.

    I would love to hear in a couple of months time that your PCC is becoming more efficient and your incumbent has mellowed. Finally, and perhaps to state the obvious, during these episodes I found prayer particularly vital.
  • A Baptist Diaconate is not exactly the same as a PCC, nor is the relationship between Minister and church the same as that between Priest and PCC. In particular, the Minister has less "clout" and needs the Deacons to make decisions together with him/herself - all are considered to be joint Charity Trustees.

    IME the most difficult scenarios were (a) Deacons agreeing that something needed to be done but being frightened of personalities or "rocking the boat"; and/or (b) Deacons just sitting in their hands and constantly deferring decisions. An outright argument - if carried out in the right way - could be far better as at least folk are getting honestly involved.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    Particular thanks to Wabale for picking up certain points and for your encouragement.

    Just a brief update, both positive and negative.
    The incumbent has today gone on a Leadership course, at the behest of the Diocese, though I guess it is part of CMD.

    We had an encouraging Vision morning with the Bishop, though unfortunately he talked for more than half of the time. Excellent points began to emerge.( If only we could have started there and continued, instead of listening to the waffle first.)

    At a recent confirmation, the number 2 Bishop extolled the virtues of the Gift of Listening, which I trust the incumbent will be taking on board.

    However, our confirmation candidate, a young lad from a church family ( the only long term family where three generations attend regularly). received only 20 mins of preparation! Whilst we acknowledge the input of Lois and Eunice, the Rector has a role to play too!

    Other pastoral concerns ( re neglect to visit a terminally ill lady and others ) are being shared. One church family has been extremely upset by a refusal to baptise their grandchild- whatever the rights and wrongs of that case, the pastoral damage is great. And so on.

    Yet we are exhorted to give encouragement and not be critical.

    The incumbent told the PCC that he had heard that someone had written to the Archdeacon (but not sent it ) and how hurt and upset he was. Whatever next!

  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    @Puzzler To be honest it sounds a bit like you’re hoping, despite the diocesan training, that “the incumbent” actually fails to sufficiently develop in their pastoral leadership to handle your covert and ungodly brand of opposition.
  • ZappaZappa Ecclesiantics Host
    hosting

    Please keep to discussion of the issues without personal attacks on the theological, spiritual or whatever qualities of your interlocutors - or a very heavy thurible will swing your way. Magnillo, if this resembles your remark do not consider it an accident. Just saying ... for now.

    /hosting
  • magnilomagnilo Shipmate
    Zappa wrote: »
    hosting

    Please keep to discussion of the issues without personal attacks on the theological, spiritual or whatever qualities of your interlocutors - or a very heavy thurible will swing your way. Magnillo, if this resembles your remark do not consider it an accident. Just saying ... for now.

    /hosting

    My sincere apologies, especially to @Puzzler. I was out of line.
  • I think part of the problem can be that there are some clergy out there - often those newly ordained or not long in orders - who make the mistake that they should be treated as being demi-Gods: in other words, no opposition, no questioning of decisions, no discussions because they, as God's representative in the parish (as they see it) can't be wrong.

    Where it gets really toxic is if there is a wife who takes the same view (!) or, worse, the parish takes the same line.
  • PuzzlerPuzzler Shipmate
    magnilo wrote: »
    Zappa wrote: »
    hosting

    Please keep to discussion of the issues without personal attacks on the theological, spiritual or whatever qualities of your interlocutors - or a very heavy thurible will swing your way. Magnillo, if this resembles your remark do not consider it an accident. Just saying ... for now.

    /hosting

    My sincere apologies, especially to @Puzzler. I was out of line.

    Thank you Magnilo - and Zappa.
    Apology accepted.
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