Diocesan Service of Celebration and Thanksgiving for the Ministry of Churchwardens

Hundreds of churchwardens and their supporters attended Choral Evensong at St Edmundsbury Cathedral in a celebration to thank them for their unstinting efforts in this key church role.

 

Tributes were paid to them by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, the Rt Revd Martin Seeley, who thanked them for their care of our church buildings and the clergy, and all the work the do to support church life across the county.

The churchwardens came from churches and parishes throughout Suffolk including wardens from Halesworth, Ipswich, Culford, Stowupland, Bury St Edmunds, Woodbridge, Beccles, Newmarket, Lakenheath and Felixstowe. About 500 people in total including about 150 church wardens attended the service during the bank holiday weekend.

 

Bishop Martin said: ‘‘So much of the work undertaken by churchwardens to support the life and witness of our churches and benefices is often hidden and goes on behind the scenes.

 

‘‘Their dedication and hard work in so many facets of a parish’s life – from building maintenance and fundraising toclergy support, from pastoral support to smoothing out problems – ensures that the wider mission and ministry of God’s church in our county can be released to serve the communities in which they are set.

 

‘‘The service was a wonderful opportunity to express our gratitude on behalf of the people, clergy, lay ministers and parishes of Suffolk. It was uplifting and encouraging for all of us.

 

‘‘It was also an opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate both the diversity of the ministry churchwardens deliver, and their contribution over so many years to sustaining the work of this diocese, serving the people of our richly diverse county.’’

 

Churchwardens, along with the parish priest, are generally responsible for the daily functioning of the parish. Various aspects of administration, maintenance and personnel are included in their role. There are also responsibilities in connection with the Sunday services and for keeping order in the church.

 

Churchwardens have a duty to make sure that the clergy can conduct their services and other meetings without hindrance. This requires that any visitors or newcomers are welcomed and assisted, that there is adequate seating, proper lighting and heating, and that all other facilities required are in place, including safety requirements. They hold a key to the church, are entitled to access the building at any time, and also have responsibility for the grounds.