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 Stephen’s as your spiritual home does that. Indeed, a condition of joining the Roll is that you are already a regular communicant of our Church!
Why join the Electoral Roll?
Joining the electoral roll is an important way of confirming your commitment to St Stephen’s 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.
In addition, those who live outside the Parish but are on the Electoral Roll enjoy all the rights and privileges that go with being resident in the Parish (for example, baptisms and weddings). However, if you live outside the Parish and want to come onto the Electoral Roll, you have to have been worshipping at St Stephen’s for a minimum period of 6 months.
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 Stephen’s, you should be on the electoral roll!
Do I have to join?
You can of course be a full and active member of St Stephen’s Church 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 Deanery Synod depends on the number on the Electoral Roll, so it would be good if we can increase the numbers!
- You must be on the Electoral Roll if you wish to be stand for election to be a sidesperson of the Church or if you wish to vote at the APCM.
- You must have been on the Electoral Roll for six months if you wish to stand for election to the PCC or other synodical councils (such as the Deanery, Diocesan or General Synod)
What does the Electoral Roll affect?
- The maximum number of PCC lay members
- Representation on the governing bodies of the Church (Bath Deanery Synod, Bath & Wells Diocesan 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 has their place in every aspect of church life, including doctrine and services.
The Electoral Roll does NOT have a direct bearing in the way the Parish Share is assessed – it is based on estimated membership and socio-economic factors. The old accusation that the Parish Share 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 baptized
- 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.
f 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 by looking at a parish map in the display boards in the office.
NOTE: you can be on the Electoral Roll of more than one Church, but you can only serve on the PCC of one Church at a time.
How do I Join?
There are Electoral Roll forms in the foyer at the back of the back of the Church. Alternatively, you can download one from the web site. Please give the completed form to Mrs Judy Palmer (Electoral Roll Officer) or to the Church Office.
N.B. In these notes, ‘parish’ means ecclesiastical parish.