How to navigate a parish in vacancy:
The Archdeacon will initiate guidance and support as soon as a vacancy is announced. The parish has three particular duties during a vacancy:
- When a benefice is vacant, Churchwardens and the Area Dean are sequestrators. This means they are responsible for sending DBF fees to St John's House.
- To look after the parsonage house, ensuring its safety and security. The Property Secretary will visit in the early stages and discuss this with you. Further details can be found in the Vacancies section of the Parsonage Handbook.
- To arrange for clergy and others to take services, including baptisms, weddings and funerals. The Area Dean will give advice and support on this.
- work with the PCC to keep an overview of arrangements for pastoral care (including contact arrangements for enquiries about baptisms, and weddings) during the vacancy
- liaise with the PCC Lay Chair, Secretary and Treasurer to ensure PCC meetings, APCM, payment of Parish Share etc. continue as normal
- make sure registers are maintained properly
The main source of income during a period of sequestration continues to be ‘local’ income. You should prepare and submit as normal an account to the Diocesan Board of Finance for its share of the Parochial Fees on a monthly basis, identifying on the heading of the fees form that this is your sequestration account.
The Diocesan Board of Finance will be responsible for reimbursement of appropriate expenses to balance the account. Expenses which can be charged to a sequestration account include parsonage telephone line rental, cost of maintaining ‘minimum’ heating of the parsonage, reasonable expenses incurred by the church officials and limited expenses incurred in connection with the induction of the new incumbent (e.g. postage). However, if these charges are to be reclaimed, you are asked to try and keep them as low as possible. If in doubt, please consult the Diocesan Office in advance. (Please note: security alarm, water rates and parsonage house repairs are not chargeable to the sequestration account.)
Retired clergy claim their fees and travelling expenses from the Diocesan Board of Finance; others should be paid travelling expenses only, which can be charged to the sequestration account.
Claims should be submitted using the Sequestration Account form.
The Archdeacon will guide the parish through the process in four stages:
The Archdeacon will make contact and meet with church officers, and visit the PCC to explain the process and advise on the preparation of a Parish Profile. The PCC elects representatives at a ‘section 11 meeting’ or equivalent; sometimes, but not always, churchwardens are chosen.
Churchwardens may be asked to ‘host’ informal visits of prospective applicants with the Area Dean.
Churchwardens may meet candidates but are only on the interview panel if elected as a Parish Representative.
Churchwardens attend the Property Secretary’s visit to the Parsonage House with the candidate and Archdeacon, giving local advice where needed. They should liaise with the new priest about moving arrangements, encourage welcome by parishioners, and take part in the Licensing Service, including words of welcome to the new priest (and family).