Chapter 2 - The ministry of the laity
2A - Introduction
The ministry of the laity Laity/Lay Members of the church who are not ordained. in chaplaincy life covers a very broad range of roles and functions, all of which are crucial to the work of the Chaplaincy in seeking to grow God’s Kingdom. Many lay members will find that their understanding of the faith, and their ability to serve, both benefit from the Diocesan Lay Learning Course.
Everyone has a role to play in living lives that follow the teaching of Christ, enabling his light to be seen by all with whom we come in contact – either at work or at leisure. This is fundamental to what we do and forms the basis underpinning our ‘Everyday Faith’ (which forms an essential part of the Church of England’s approach to the ministry of the laity).
Christ may also call people to use their talents (their skills and life experiences) in particular ways. For some this is to become involved with the practical running of a chaplaincy. For others it is to take on a broader worship leadership role, teaching role or support role for those in particular need. This Chapter in the Diocesan Handbook explores how these two broad callings become practical realities within Chaplaincy life (Sections 2.B – 2.I cover the issues of the practical running of the Chaplaincy and Sections 2.J – 2.M the broader worship, teaching and support roles).
2B -Those who are called to a role in the practical running of their chaplaincy
The Church of England sets very clear arrangements as to how matters at a local level are to be properly organised and delivered. As a part of the Church of England, the organisation and governance of our Chaplaincies (ie the framework of authority and accountability that defines how Chaplaincies function) is grounded in the Diocesan Constitution.
This requires that every Chaplaincy must set out, and follow, the local arrangements for proper governance in a specific document referred to as the Chaplaincy Constitution. In summary, the key elements are that, whilst the overall leadership is vested in the Chaplain (for further information regarding the role of the Chaplain please click here), the laity undertake the following key roles:
The elected Churchwardens support the Chaplain.
The elected Chaplaincy Council assists in delivering the Chaplaincy’s ministry.
For general guidance covering the Chaplaincy Constitution, Churchwardens, Chaplaincy Councils and associated matters, which should be read in conjunction with the information presented below, please click here.
2C - The Chaplaincy Constitution
All Chaplaincies are required to have a formal constitution based on ecclesiastical Ecclesiastical About the church. and Canon Law Canon (Law) Law of the Church of England made by the General Synod, requiring the Royal Assent – hence ‘Canon law’. of the Church of England. This will need to take due account of any local legal requirements (which may also require it to be in the local language – though an English version should always be available as well). The Chaplain and Churchwardens must prepare one for agreement by the Bishop and the Annual Meeting of the Chaplaincy. The final copy, showing the date agreed by the Chaplaincy’s Meeting (Annual or Special), should be lodged with the Registry of the Diocese at email@example.com
A copy of the Constitution must be lodged with the Diocesan Office.
Guidance on what the Chaplaincy Constitution is to contain, together with a link to a ‘Model Chaplaincy Constitution’, is given here. Templates for individual countries may be available from Archdeacons; these will derive from the basic model, but take into account national legal requirements where these are necessary.
2D - Annual Meetings & Elections
The requirements for holding Annual Meetings, including who can attend, speak and vote, and what must be on the agenda, are set out in the Church Representation Rules. Annual Meetings are to be held between 1st January and 31st May unless allowed otherwise by a “Bishop’s Instrument”’.
The annual election of the Churchwardens and the relevant lay members to a Chaplaincy Council and triennial election of lay members to the relevant Archdeaconry/ Deanery Synod takes place during the Annual Meetings of the Chaplaincy.
Section 32(a) of the Diocesan Constitution provides that the Archdeacon may direct, or the annual meeting may pass, a resolution which provides, that any person entitled to attend the annual meeting and vote in the elections of churchwardens or representatives of the laity to the chaplaincy church council or to the archdeaconry or deanery synod may make application for a postal vote, and in that event the relevant provisions of the Church Representation Rules with the necessary modifications shall apply.
2E - Churchwardens (elections, duties & Safeguarding)
A Chaplaincy will annually elect two people to serve in the role as Churchwardens. Those so elected serve as the Churchwardens for the whole Chaplaincy without regard to the particular congregations they attend. All persons seeking election/re-election to the role of Churchwarden must submit a completed nomination form.
Where there are two or more congregations using different places of worship, further information is set out in Section 2H of this Chapter.
2.E.1 Electing Churchwardens
The procedure for electing Churchwardens, and who is eligible for election, is set out in the Churchwardens Measure. The elected Churchwardens must be admitted to office by the Archdeacon or a representative of the Archdeacon.
2.E.2 Roles and Duties of Churchwardens
The roles and duties of a Churchwarden are explained in a User Guide here
As leading members of the laity in a Chaplaincy it is incumbent on Incumbent on If it is "incumbent on" me to do X, I am under an obligation to do X. Churchwardens to obtain a Safeguarding check, when elected, to demonstrate their commitment to good safeguarding practice. (You can find information regarding Safeguarding Checks in the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy
2F - The chaplaincy Council
2.F.1 The Membership of a Chaplaincy Council
The membership of a Chaplaincy Council is set out in the Church Representation Rules.
2.F.2 Electing Lay Members
The procedure for electing members of the Chaplaincy laity to the Chaplaincy Council at the Annual Meeting, including who is eligible for election, is set out in the Church Representation Rules.
2.F.3 Additional requirements
At the first meeting of the Chaplaincy Council (usually held directly after the Chaplaincy Annual meeting) the following groups/individual roles must be agreed:
The Standing Committee: details on the role of the Standing Committee can be found here (How we run our Chaplaincies).
The Chaplaincy Treasurer: the treasurer does not have to be a member of the Council, although they may be, either by election or co-option (subject to the limitations on co-opted members). Guidance on the treasurer’s role is given here.
The Chaplaincy Council Secretary: who has the general role of helping to organise meetings and keeping an appropriate record of meetings (this does not need to be verbatim – a record of agreements and actions will generally suffice). The Secretary does not have to be a member of the Council, although they may be, either by election or co-option (subject to the limitations on co-opted members).
The Chaplaincy Electoral Roll Officer: who has the role of maintaining the Electoral Roll.
The Electoral Roll is an essential part of the Governance of the Chaplaincy. What this means in general and what are the associated requirements are set out in the Church Representation Rules.
In compliance with the CRRs only a single Electoral Roll is permissible within a given Chaplaincy. Where there are two or more congregations using different places of worship, further information is set out in Section 2H of this chapter. Those chaplaincies where there are congregations with wide distances between them may find it helpful to appoint informally a local person to assist the Chaplaincy Electoral Roll Officer to maintain the Chaplaincy Electoral Roll for that part of the Chaplaincy..
The Form to be used across the Diocese by people wishing to become members of the Electoral Roll is available here.
A statement regarding data privacy can be found here.
2G - Other Lay Officers & responsibilities
2.G.1 The Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officer:
All Chaplaincies are required by the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy to appoint a Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officer by the newly formed Council directly after the Annual Meeting. The role and duties of a Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officer are set out in the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy. If the Chaplaincy Safeguarding Officer is not an elected or co-opted member of the Chaplaincy Council, the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy requires that they attend a meeting of the Chaplaincy Council at least annually to ensure Safeguarding issues are discussed and that the church leadership annually adopt the Chaplaincy Safeguarding Policy. As with all appointments, the ‘Safer Recruitment’ procedure must be applied to this appointment.
2.G.2 The Local Environmental Officer: see the Caring for Creation policy
2.G.3 Caring For Our Clergy: The Diocese has formally adopted the General Synod’s ‘Clergy Covenant’ which emphasises the need for chaplaincy laity and others to care properly for the wellbeing of clergy and their families.
You can find more information in Chapter 4 of this Handbook (Wellbeing of a Chaplaincy) which, amongst other important matters, includes links to the following User Guides:
2H - Special arrangements where there are two or more congregations or places or worship
The Diocesan Constitution makes provision for situations where there are two or more congregations or places of worship in a Chaplaincy. Where it would be helpful to order the relationship between the congregations in particular ways, the Chaplaincy may draw up a ‘Scheme’ which must be agreed between the overall Chaplaincy Council and the Archdeacon.
The Scheme, which is separate from the Chaplaincy Constitution, will cover matters of congregational membership rolls, local annual meetings, identifying Churchwardens/ local Deputy Churchwardens, representation on the Chaplaincy Council and for local elections. You will find the detailed requirements in Section 32(b) of the Diocesan Constitution.
2I - Special arrangements during a vacancy
When a Chaplaincy finds itself in a ‘vacancy’ following the resignation or retirement of their Chaplain, the Chaplaincy Officers take on the responsibilities for the smooth running of the Chaplaincy during the appointments process for a new Chaplain. You can find information on the Diocesan Appointments process by clicking here. To assist chaplaincies in ‘managing’ matters during a vacancy a short User Guide is given here.
2J - Those who are called to a worship leadership, teaching or supporting role in their chaplaincies
There are a broad range of worship leadership, teaching and supporting roles in a Chaplaincy which members of the laity may find themselves being called by God to undertake. These will vary, depending on local circumstances and needs. The following sections outline what these might encompass and whether they can be undertaken only with the authority of the Bishop (including in some instances formal ‘licensing’).
2K - Reader Ministry
2.K.1 Readers (who may also be called ‘Licensed Lay Ministers’) provide a key resource in the support of worship ministry within a Chaplaincy. Through their preaching and teaching and in their pastoral work, Readers help others explore the Gospel message, encourage people to make connections between the church and daily living, and share in the Church’s work of caring for people in Christ’s name.
2.K.2 Safeguarding: irrespective of their previous background, all Readers and Readers-in-Training must complete a Confidential Declaration and undergo a Safeguarding Check and training.
2.K.3 Well-being: In order to support Readers to assist in their well-being in undertaking their important role in a Chaplaincy, Archdeacons will assist the Warden of Readers in the provision of a range of training opportunities (for example matters such as conflict-management), providing an opportunity for Readers to have informal exchanges with one another, and, as required, for the provision of a ‘mentor’ in respect of non-theological issues.
2L - Congregational Worship Leaders
Congregational Worship Leaders play an important role in supporting the worship life of a Chaplaincy. The current Diocesan procedure in respect of Congregational Worship leaders can be found by clicking here.
2M - Other lay roles
There are a number of additional roles which members of the laity may be authorised by the Bishop to undertake; these are:
2.M.1 Those whom a parish priest is authorised to use in the distribution of the Holy Communion
For those who are baptised and confirmed members of the Church of England or a Church in full communion with the Church of England, the Diocesan procedure in respect of the distribution of Holy Communion is set out in a User Guide
For those who are a baptised lay or ordained member of another Church to perform this (or any other liturgical duty for which the Bishop's Permission is required), the Suffragan Bishop Suffragan Bishop An assistant Bishop in a diocese, without a formal geographical area of responsibility must be consulted to determine the correct course of action.
2.M.2 Those (members of the laity) who have the Bishop's permission to preach
In exceptional circumstances, the Diocesan Bishop may give permission for another lay person to preach (normally on a single occasion) in a particular congregation. For further information see 1.D.4
2.M.3 Ecumenical Matters – and members of Churches not in communion with the Church of England
Under the Church of England’s ecumenical canons (Canon B43) lay members of certain other Churches may be authorised to perform in chaplaincies of this Diocese duties similar to those they may perform in their own Churches. Strict requirements apply to what roles such lay members can undertake and how they are to be authorised to undertake any role. Details of these requirements are set out in section 7.G of these protocols.
2.M.4 Other teaching and supporting roles within a chaplaincy
Depending upon the needs of the Chaplaincy and the wishes of the Chaplain, there are a number of equally important roles that members of the laity may be called by God to undertake. These may embrace roles in Sunday Schools, youth groups, supporting those with particular needs (in either organised groups or in their own homes) and many other similar roles. Whilst these need only the agreement of their Chaplain rather than the Bishop, whether the role is paid or voluntary, the requirements of the Diocesan Safeguarding Policy regarding recruitment, checking and training must be followed.