What is the Electoral Roll?
It is your parish church’s register of electors. In the same way that being on the civic Electoral Roll allows you to vote in parliamentary and local elections and referenda, joining the Church Electoral Roll means that you can vote on Church matters, attend the Annual Parochial Church Meeting (APCM) and stand for election to the PCC.
Being on the Electoral Roll does NOT make you a “member” of the Church; simply regarding St Thomas’ Church as your spiritual home does that. Indeed, a condition of joining the Roll is that you are already a “member” of a Church!
Do I have to join?
You can of course be a full and active member of St Thomas’ without joining the Roll. Being on the Electoral Roll does not entail signing up to any additional commitments. However, it does help the Church show its strength. Representation on the governing bodies of the church depends on the number on the Electoral Roll.
Joining the Roll is compulsory if you wish to:
- Stand for election to the PCC or other synodical council (such as the Deanery, Diocesan or General Synod)
- Attend the APCM and participate in votes
What does the Electoral Roll affect?
- The maximum number of PCC members. For a large Church like St Thomas’, if the Roll is not representative this means that the PCC is too small for the workload involved, putting heavy strain on the members.
- Representation on the governing bodies of the Church (PCC, Deanery Synod, and General Synod).
The Church of England is governed by a synodical system which joins with the Bishops to make decisions. Being on the Electoral Roll is the entry point and Christians share an individual responsibility to be part of the “Body of Christ” and to participate fully in our part of His Church. This system is intended to enable church people at every level to be in touch with the Church as a whole and to play their part in decision making. Also, the system is intended to ensure that the laity have their place in every aspect of church life, including doctrine and services.
The Electoral Roll does NOT have a direct bearing in the way that Common fund is assessed. The old accusation that Common Fund was a sort of tax on the size of the Roll is no longer relevant.
Do I qualify for the Roll?
To apply for the Electoral Roll you must meet ALL the following conditions:
- You must be aged 16 or over (though you can apply in the year you become 16 and your name will be entered once your birth date has passed).
- You must be baptised.
- You must be a member of the Church of England and EITHER live in the parish OR have attended a church in the parish regularly for at least 6 months.
The phrase “member of the Church of England” requires further explanation:
- Member of the Church of England
- Member of a Church in communion with the Church of England. The only Churches at present in communion with the Church of England are other Anglican Churches (excepting the so-called Anglican continuing Churches in North America) and some other foreign churches.
- Member of a Church not in communion with the Church of England but which subscribes to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity; you must be prepared to also declare yourself a member of the Church of England. This category includes other Protestant denominations such as Moravian, Methodist, Presbyterian and Baptist, as well as Roman Catholic, URC, Russian/Greek Orthodox etc.
If you are a parish resident you do not have to actually attend the Church of which you consider yourself a member; but if you live outside the parish, the 6 months’ regular attendance at a church inside the parish is a requirement. You can find out if you are resident in the parish here.
If you are not resident in the parish but were a habitual worshipper in the parish, and have been prevented by sickness or absence or other essential reason from worshipping for the past six months, you may write ‘would’ before ‘have habitually attended’ on the form and add ‘but was prevented from doing so because’ and then state the reason. If this is the case you can still apply but add the reason for non-attendance as a note.
In these notes, ‘parish’ means ecclesiastical parish.
Why Join the Electoral Roll?
Joining the electoral roll is an important way of confirming your commitment to St Thomas’ community and to the vision of the church. But it also opens up the way for greater involvement in the life of the Church of England, at Deanery, Diocesan and national levels. By joining, you become entitled to participate in the government of the church and to vote at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, where the elections take place for:
- the parochial church council
- the parish’s representatives on the deanery synod.
Any person entitled to attend the APCM may raise any question of parochial or general church interest.
Numbers are important in the present climate in which the Church of England needs to be aware of the commitment of its people. Church morale is affected by statistics and while it would be wrong to inflate the significance of the Roll it would be a missed opportunity to ignore it.
Joining the roll is an important statement of witness and a step along the path of discipleship. With your name on the electoral roll, the strength of the Church can be seen in our local area, and across the Diocese. If you’re a regular at St Thomas’, you should be on the electoral roll!
How do I join?
Application forms are available from the parish office. Please complete the form (as legibly as possible!), tick the appropriate boxes and add your signature. (See the explanation above, or ask a member of the clergy). Put the completed forms in a sealed envelope addressed to Sally-Anne Beecham – Electoral Roll Officer and deliver to the parish office.
Alternatively please email the Electoral Roll officer, who will send you an electronic copy of the form.