It was a full house at Diocesan House for the first of the two Churchwardens’ Training Days on 23 May.

Over 45 delegates gathered from all four corners of the diocese for presentations on their Roles & Responsibilities, the Diocesan Advisory Committee, Faculties, Church Care and Working with the Local Community.

In his introduction, Revd Canon Michael Warner, emphasised that there was a firm legal basis underpinning the role of churchwarden and that it involved working alongside the Bishop and having a word in his ear should it be necessary.

 “You carry the history and traditions and hopes and the problems of that place,” said Canon Warner speaking of the churchwarden’s function at a parish level. “An important word that is often forgotten is ‘opportunity’; so don’t be afraid to take the initiative and express your personal gifts.”

Speaking of his experiences with churchwardens during his 40 years of ordained ministry, Canon Warner stressed that in the majority of cases they had executed their duties with diligence and sensitivity. “However,” he said, “A few have made Attila the Hun seem like a nursery school teacher! Your roles require great patience and powers of gentle persuasion.”

Canon Warner’s several presentations were well received and contained much of interest for the many ‘newbie’ churchwardens who were in attendance, as well as those who had been around the block several times.

In an enchanting, practical perambulation, Yvonne Tew – churchwarden at St Teath “for four years and still on a learning curve” – took delegates through a ‘Day in the Life of a Churchwarden’.

Yvonne covered her experiences of health & safety issues – from headstones to handrails; she gave examples of the sometimes tortuous path to a Faculty; explained how she and her PCC colleagues tackled the challenges encountered with interregnums and the arrival of a new priest; and emphasised the importance of accepting help from volunteers when it was offered. “There are many people who do not come to church, yet who value the church,” she said.

In the final session, Revd Canon Gordon Smythe used a light-hearted presentation that he and Archdeacon Bill had put together to make some serious points about the pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical opportunities offered up to churchwardens.

He reminded delegates that they had all ‘signed up’ to these principles at their commissioning; as well as answering in the affirmative to the following two questions: ‘Will you care for God’s people in your parish? Will you have a special care for the clergy and their families?

The next Churchwardens Training Day is on Wednesday 12 June at Diocesan House when the speakers will include Registrar, Martin Follett and Archdeacon Bill.

Places should be booked to avoid disappointment. Call 01872 274 351 or e-mail