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On being a churchwarden

Published: 2nd October 2023

In a recent edition of the Hagley and Clent parish magazine, former churchwardens offered some reflections about what they enjoyed about the role. 

Jackie HiornsI was nervous for the first month or two but had great support from the clergy, other churchwardens and the congregation. Until I was elected as a churchwarden I had taken for granted that the Church would be open on Sunday (as well as the rest of the week), the lights and microphones on and the heating on in winter. I was now on a steep learning curve. Much to my surprise I enjoyed the process and everyone was very helpful.

It was a great privilege to share and support many family occasions, including baptisms, weddings, funerals and a confirmation. It was interesting, and often great fun, to be involved with the school visits. On one occasion the teachers had prepared a question and answer form for the pupils to fill in. There seemed to be some slight exaggeration in the results for how many crosses there were in the Church. I certainly hope this applied when one young pupil decided to count how many spiders there were!

I enjoyed the experience and made many new friends. Loving support and care is there in abundance.

 Jackie Hiorns

David PettitThe thing I liked was I felt as if I was doing something worthwhile. It was a privilege to hold the position. It’s good to serve. I loved it. When Richard had his sabbatical, it was lovely to get up and introduce all the visiting priest.

It had its moments!  As Churchwarden, if anything goes wrong it’s your fault! - even if a lightbulb goes. However, it was lovely - especially acting in an official capacity if the Archdeacon or Bishop came.

Dave Pettit

Kate AldridgeI found being a Churchwarden a privilege - with the most unexpected moments changing my views about Church, people, and my own ability to accomplish things I thought I would be unable to do.

How you want everything to be perfect with the services, weddings, funerals and other events! - but I found the congregation are on your side and will always help when you need support.

 There is a lot of fun and joy especially with weddings. I remember the Best Man who forgot the rings, and the Bride who had to be carried in because of a terrible storm.  You are very involved with the wedding couple, and it becomes a pleasure to share their day. Funerals are moving.  I have seen Richard officiate with the church full to overflowing, and on another occasion with only five people there - always with a sincere service that is completely moving.

 The heating is one of the worries - I have sent Derek up to St John’s at six in the morning to see if the heating is on!  But that’s only a small worry - the ‘up’s of being a Churchwarden are amazing.

Kate Aldridge

Gwen ShawTo become a churchwarden is both an honour and joy. It involves much responsibility and can be demanding. However, the pleasure and satisfaction far outweighs any downside you may experience. You are at the heart of the practical running of the church, liaising between clergy and parishioners. You look at a congregation as part of your Christian family who you can call on for help and friendship. There is also the pleasure of meeting visitors who come for weddings and baptisms and making them welcome. 

We pray together and ensuring the many jobs or tasks are carried out we reach out to spread the love of Christ to all parishioners and beyond. We keep the doors of the church open to all.

Gwen Shaw

Anne HarrisWhen I was first approached about becoming a churchwarden I did feel it was an honour to be asked, but I also knew that I would be taking over from Ann Hirons, retired matron of Birmingham General Hospital – a deeply spiritual lady and a very capable and efficient warden, and I was quite anxious as to whether I would be able to  live up to her standard.

Fortunately my fellow warden was Douglas Dipple  - a very experienced warden, always pleasant and easy to work with and very kind and helpful to his new colleague. And our vicar was the Revd Derek Sharples, who was also very pleasant and easy to work with.

Once you become a warden you begin to learn so much you never knew about the workings of the C of E, and that first year can be a real learning curve. I found it extremely interesting, though at times a bit frustrating, because I am a “do it now” person and the Church of England moves at a very slow, almost glacial, pace.

One of the nice things I found about being a warden, was that you got to know so many people: not just all the congregation but many other people in the Deanery and the Diocese. Also, since part of the wardens’ duties is maintenance of the church building, we worked a lot with David Mills, our church architect, who was wonderfully helpful in advising us how to navigate the ways of that bugbear of the wardens of my day, the Diocesan Advisory Committee! (I expect it is quite different nowadays.)     

It is true that the duties of a churchwarden can sound quite onerous  but we were lucky at Clent to have a very supportive congregation and there always seemed to be church members who were willing to help – in fact I always found that people would do absolutely anything you asked of them – except actually be a warden! To me it was a privilege and I am grateful to have had those years. 

Anne Harris

Malcolm RobertsI have had two spells as a Churchwarden - seven years at St John’s and five years at St Saviour’s. I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed being a Churchwarden - that’s why I did it twice. One thing I enjoyed was the fact that I got to know virtually every member of the congregation and many of them became close friends.

I found that every Churchwarden brings something different to the role based on their past experience and their individual talents. In my case my business experience was useful. With our Architect I was able to plan and project- manage the building of the Wychbury Room. I also arranged the sale of  Church Cottage. This involved extensive discussions with the Diocese over a number of years.

If anyone is considering the role I would be glad to discuss in more detail why I found being a Churchwarden so satisfying.

Malcolm Roberts

Barbara AlbertIt is an honour to serve the church, our fellow worshippers and the Rector, in the name of our Lord Jesus -  in a position that, carrying many responsibilities together with endless joys, is so rewarding; a practical, loving and quiet way to be a disciple of Christ and truly serve.

Being given an insight into the machinations, politics and workings of our churches in the Diocese is so illuminating, and a privilege to get to know the attributes and personalities of our worshippers, and to discover their strengths.

Being a churchwarden involves being `holder of the keys` and having access to our church at all times, lovingly caring for our treasured holy buildings and artefacts, being a member of the PCC and sharing in creating and upholding a vision for the churches in the Parish.

It is a pleasure to be a welcoming presence before services and to be on hand to answer people`s needs, and to welcome other visitors as required; to be an `uninvited` guest at weddings and baptisms and other joyous occasions, and  an invisible mourner at funerals, supporting the roles of the funeral directors and the Priest.

I urge anyone, who has more than a passing thought to become a church warden, to step forward. You will be rewarded in an unbelievable number of ways.  I was! 

Barbara Albert

Eva CorlettIn his sermon at the 2008 St Saviour’s Centenary Flower Festival service, Bishop John centred on the giving of yourself to practical support within the church. The seed was sown. I felt my faith and I were ready to meet the challenge.

A request for a Churchwarden to support Kate Aldridge at St John’s was where I began my journey, and I became involved with all aspects of the running of the church.  This included meetings, checking the sound system, electrics, fire safety, service books, registers, the safe, and making sure the priest has everything he or she needs to take a service.  Church candlesticks are heavy, and steps can seem steep, but with teamwork everything is possible.

Each year’s weddings meant meeting each couple’s needs and making the day itself special. Funerals are times when supporting grieving families and visitors makes you humble and aware of the vulnerability of life. Then there’s the joy of a baptism.

In May 2018 I retired, seeing the completion of the Wychbury Room, and outside and inside notice boards. The porch had new lettering above the entrance door and the lychgate  lettering was restored too.  You grow in faith and as a person when you give to the family of the church - that’s what being a Churchwarden has done for me.

Eva Corlett





Page last updated: Monday 2nd October 2023 8:47 PM

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