History of the Churchwarden


stained glass cup

The office of Churchwarden dates from the 13th Century, and is thus one of the earliest forms of recognized lay ministry.  The primary function of the office at that time seems to have been that of taking care of the Church building and its contents, including the responsibility of providing for the repairs of the nave, and of furnishing the utensils for divine service.  The Churchwardens had custody or guardianship of the fabric and furniture of the church, and even today, they are the legal guardians of the church’s moveable goods, such as moveable furniture, plates and ornaments. They are required to keep an accurate, up-to-date inventory of these items.

In the course of time other duties were added, and Churchwardens became regarded in some respects as the local officers of the Bishop of the diocese, responsible to him for the proper carrying out of their responsibilities. Throughout their long history, Churchwardens have provided an excellent example of the advantages of lay participation in the life and work of a parish.