General Meetings of Parishioners

Contents

Introduction

The ordinances of the Diocese provide for meetings of parishioners to consider business connected with a church or parish. These meetings are called general meetings of parishioners.

For parishes administered on the basis of their church or churches under Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, there are two main types of general meetings of parishioners –

(a)      annual general meetings of parishioners - An annual general meeting of parishioners is the meeting of the parishioners of a church required to be held each year in accordance with the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008. The purpose of the meeting is to consider the business referred to in rule 3.1 of Schedule 1 of that Ordinance.

(b)      special general meetings of parishioners - A special general meeting of parishioners is a meeting of the parishioners of a church, other than an annual general meeting. The purpose of a special general meeting of parishioners is to consider any business connected with the church.

In a parish which has more than one church, there are two further types of general meetings of parishioners –

(c)      combined annual general meetings of parishioners – A combined annual general meeting of parishioners is a combined general meeting of some or all of the churches in the parish which is held with the permission of the regional bishop-in-council to consider the business approved by the regional bishop-in-council. See Obtaining permission for a combined annual general meeting of parishioners.

(d)      general meetings of parishioners of a parish - A general meeting of parishioners of the parish is a meeting of all parishioners in the parish, other than a combined annual general meeting of the parishioners of all churches, to consider any business connected with the parish.

For parishes administered as a whole under Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, there are two main types of general meetings of parishioners –

(a)      annual general meetings of parishioners - An annual general meeting of parishioners is the meeting of the parishioners of a parish required to be held each year in accordance with the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008. The purpose of the meeting is to consider the business referred to in rule 3.1 of Schedule 2 of that Ordinance.

(b)      special general meetings of parishioners - A special general meeting of parishioners is a meeting of the parishioners of a parish, other than an annual general meeting.  The purpose of a special general meeting of parishioners is to consider any business connected with a congregation of the parish.

Obtaining permission for a combined annual general meeting of parishioners

Under rule 3.2 of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, the regional bishop-in-council, at the request of the parish council of a parish, may permit a combined annual general meeting of parishioners of all or some of the churches of the parish to deal with such of the matters referred to in rule 3.1(2) of Schedule 1 of the Ordinance as the regional bishop-in-council considers proper.

The possibility of a combined annual general meeting of parishioners of churches is only relevant to parishes with more than one church and which are administered on the basis of their churches.

An application for permission to hold a combined annual general meeting of parishioners should be made to the Regional Bishop or his assistant who will arrange for it to be considered by the regional bishop-in-council. The application is to contain the following information –

(a)      confirmation that the application is made at the request of the parish council of the parish, and

(b)      the names of the churches the subject of the request, and

(c)      the nature of the matters referred to in rule 3.1(2) which are desired to be dealt with at the combined annual general meeting of parishioners, and

(d)      if it is desired that certain matters be dealt with only by a class or classes of persons (such as the parishioners of a particular church) - the nature of those matters and a description of the class or classes of persons who are to deal with them, and

(e)      whether the permission to hold a combined annual general meeting of parishioners is sought for a specific period, or indefinitely.

The types of matters referred to in rule 3.1(2) which could be dealt with at a combined annual general meeting of parishioners include –

  • the matters referred to in paragraphs (a) to (e) inclusive of Business of other general meetings of parishioners
  • the receipt and passing or other determination on the financial statements of the wardens, in so far as those statements relate to money collected, expended or held in connection with matters affecting the parish as a whole and not being the responsibility of one church only
  • electing members of the parish council
  • if entitled to do so, electing parish nominators under the Nomination Ordinance 2006.

The Regional Bishop or his assistant may seek further information before referring the request to the regional bishop-in-council for its consideration.

The permission of the regional bishop-in-council for a combined annual general meeting of parishioners is to specify –

(a)      the matters that may be dealt with by all persons present and entitled to take part in the meeting, and

(b)      the matters that may be dealt with only by a class or classes of those persons.

The permission may be given unconditionally or subject to conditions, and for a specific period or indefinitely.

Discontinuing permission for a combined annual general meeting of parishioners

The wardens of a church affected by a permission to hold a combined annual general meeting of parishioners may apply to the regional bishop-in-council to vary or discontinue the permission and the regional bishop-in-council may deal with the application as it considers appropriate.

Convening general meetings of parishioners

Date and time of meeting

An annual general meeting of parishioners is to be held each year on a day which is on or after 1 February and not later than 31 March.  Similarly, if required to be held, a combined annual general meeting is to be held each year on a day which is on or after 1 February and not later than 31 March.  At the request of the minister and wardens, the Archbishop may for a particular year permit an annual general meeting to be convened on a day outside this period.

A special general meeting of parishioners can be held at any time to consider business connected with a church and a general meeting of parishioners of a parish can be held at any time to consider business connected with a parish.  If the parish is administered as a whole, a special general meeting of parishioners can be held at any time to consider business connected with any congregation of the parish. 

A special general meeting of parishioners is to be convened if the Archbishop so directs the minister and wardens.

The minister and the wardens are responsible for determining the date of the meeting, and the time and place of the meeting.

Notice of the meeting

Notice of the date, time and place of meeting of a general meeting is to be given in both of the following ways –

(a)    by notice in writing placed in -

  • a prominent position at the main entrance to the church or published in any weekly church bulletin, in the case of a general meeting of parishioners of a church
  • a prominent position at the main entrance to each church affected by the regional bishop-in-council's permission or published in any weekly church bulletin, in the case of a combined general meeting of parishioners
  • a prominent position at the main entrance to each church in the parish or published in any weekly church bulletin, in the case of a general meeting of parishioners of a parish

(b)    by announcement at each Sunday service of public worship on at least 2 Sundays before the day of the meeting although, if services are held in a church less frequently than once each Sunday, the announcement may be made at the service or services celebrated on 1 Sunday only before the meeting.

For parishes which are administered as a whole, notice of the date, time and place of meeting of a general meeting is to be given by announcement at not less than 2 services of public worship for each congregation of the parish before the day of the meeting and, if there is a weekly parish bulletin, in such bulletin.  If services for a congregation are celebrated less frequently than once each week, the announcement may be made at only one such service for that congregation at least 7 days before the meeting.

In the case of a general meeting which is not an annual general meeting, notice must also be given of the business to be considered at the meeting.

Provided that notice is given in this way, the minister may give notice of a general meeting of parishioners by such other means and at such other times as the minister thinks fit.

For the notice requirements for an adjourned general meeting of parishioners see Adjournment of a general meeting of parishioners.

Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners

There are a number of matters which need to be prepared for a general meeting of parishioners –

Alternate chairman

For the rules as to who chairs a general meeting see Chairman of the meeting.

If a person, other than the minister, is to chair the meeting it is good practice for the minister to ensure that an appropriate person has agreed prior to the meeting to take the role of chairman, should that person be authorised by the minister or be elected by the meeting.

Minute secretary

The business of a general meeting includes the appointment of a minute secretary.  It is good practice for the minister to ensure that an appropriate person has agreed prior to the meeting to take the role of minute secretary, if elected at the meeting.  The person also needs to understand what is to be recorded in the minutes.  See Minutes.

There are several other matters which need to be prepared if the general meeting is an annual general meeting of parishioners.

Preparation of financial statements and reports

Under rule 3.9 of Schedule 1 and rule 3.8 of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 the wardens, before the annual general meeting, are to prepare certain financial statements and accounts and have them audited.  Copies of the audited statements and accounts are then to be made available for inspection or distribution (or both) to parishioners prior to the annual general meeting.

The following are the financial statements and accounts which the wardens of a church or parish are to prepare –

(a)    a statement of the receipts and payments of the church or parish during the previous calendar year, and

(b)    a statement of the assets and liabilities of the church or parish at the close of the previous calendar year, and

(In this statement, the value of any land and buildings may be shown as cost price, Valuer-General's current valuation, the estimates provided by the Property Trust for the replacement and reinstatement cost calculated in accordance with the terms and conditions of the current insurance policy, or a valuation by an independent qualified valuer.)

(c)    if separate financial records are maintained by the wardens of the principal church in connection with matters affecting the parish as a whole and not being the responsibility of any one church only, separate statements of receipts and payments and assets and liabilities in relation to those matters;

(d)    a statement in such form as is prescribed from time to time by resolution of the Standing Committee setting out full particulars of all current insurances required to be effected by the wardens, and

(e)    a budget for the current calendar year.

The financial statements and accounts are to be in the form last prescribed by the Standing Committee by resolution.

Audit of financial statements

Before the annual general meeting, the wardens are to call on the auditor or auditors appointed under the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 to report on the financial statements referred to in (a) to (d) above.

The auditor or auditors are to state in their report –

(a)    whether anything has come to the auditor's attention that causes the auditor to believe that the financial statements do not give a true and fair view of the receipts and payments, assets and liabilities of the parish, in accordance with the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, and

(b)    where the auditors are not satisfied of those matters, the reasons for not being so satisfied.

Making financial statements and reports available

On at least one Sunday before the annual general meeting of parishioners, being a Sunday on which at least one service is conducted, the wardens are to make available copies of their financial statements and reports for inspection or distribution (or both) at or near each main entrance to the church, in such quantities and manner as the minister and wardens may reasonably determine.  For parishes which are administered as a whole, copies of the financial statements and reports are to be made available for inspection or distribution (or both) at least 7 days before the annual general meeting at or near the entrance to the place where each congregation of the parish meets.

The wardens are also to cause an announcement to be made at the service (but if more than one service is conducted on that Sunday, then at all the services) to the effect that those statements and reports are available.

Appointment of minister's warden

The business of an annual general meeting of parishioners includes receiving notification of the name of the person appointed by the minister as a warden.  The minister must normally make this appointment within 7 days before the annual general meeting.  If the minister does not make an appointment before the meeting, the minister may do so at any time after the relevant meeting but is to endeavour to do so as soon as possible.

Appointment of minister's parish councillors

At the annual general meeting of parishioners the minister may appoint one qualified person to be a member of the parish council for every 3 persons determined by the annual general meeting to be elected as members of the parish council.  It is good practice for the minister to have thought about the person or persons who will be his appointee or appointees, and obtained their consent to the appointment.  If the minister does not make an appointment at the meeting, he is to do so within 28 days after the meeting, or his right to make the appointment lapses. 

Participation in a general meeting of parishioners

Participation in an annual general meeting or a combined annual general meeting of parishioners

Under rules 4.2(1) and 4.2(2) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, a person (other than the minister) cannot take part in or be counted for the purposes of a quorum at the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church unless the person has first subscribed the following declarations –

"I am a member of the Anglican Church of Australia.
I have been baptised.
I am not less than 18 years of age.
I have usually during 3 months within the past 12 months attended services of public worship at [name of church] or as part of an associated congregation of that church.
I do not claim to be a parishioner of any other church or parish of the Anglican Church of Australia.
Dated this ..........day of ...........  20….".

"I have not voted at a general meeting of parishioners of any other church or parish of the Anglican Church of Australia within the past 3 months and I do not intend to vote at a general meeting of parishioners of any other church of the Anglican Church of Australia within the next 3 months."

This declaration is also sufficient for taking part in any combined annual general meeting of parishioners required to be held for some or all of the churches of a parish.

Rules 4.2(1) and 4.2(2) of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 provide for a slightly varied form of declaration for the annual general meeting of parishioners in a parish administered as a whole.

Clause 13(3) of the Recognised Churches Ordinance 2000 provides for a slightly varied form of declaration for the annual general meeting of a recognised church.

In the case of a combined annual general meeting of parishioners, the presumption is that the church named in the declaration is a church affected by the permission to hold the combined annual general meeting of parishioners.

As to the meaning of the terms "parishioner" and "member" see Meaning of parishioner and member below.

Participation in other general meetings

Under rule 4.2(1) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, a person (other than the minister) cannot take part in or be counted for the purposes of a quorum at a special general meeting of parishioners of a church unless the person has first subscribed the following declaration –

"I am a member of the Anglican Church of Australia.
I have been baptised.
I am not less than 18 years of age.
I have usually during 3 months within the past 12 months attended services of public worship at [name of church] or as part of an associated congregation of that church.
I do not claim to be a parishioner of any other church or parish of the Anglican Church of Australia.
Dated this ..........day of ...........  20…."

This declaration is also sufficient for taking part in any general meeting of parishioners of a parish.

Rule 4.2(1) of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 provides for a slightly varied form of declaration for special general meetings of parishioners in a parish administered as a whole.

Clause 13(3) of the Recognised Churches Ordinance 2000 provides for a slightly varied form of the declaration for a special general meeting of a recognised church.

As to the meaning of the terms "parishioner" and "member" see Meaning of parishioner and member below.

Attendance of other persons at a general meeting

The meeting may invite any person who is not a parishioner to be present at the meeting and to speak.

Meaning of parishioner and member

Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 contains a number of rules concerning the meaning of the terms "parishioner" and "member" –

(a)    Subject to the rule in (b) following, a person is a "parishioner" of a parish if the person is a member of the Anglican Church of Australia and has usually, during 3 months in the 12 months preceding the time at which the status of the person as a parishioner is to be determined, attended services of public worship in a church of the parish or as part of an associated congregation of such a church.

(b)    A person may not be a parishioner of more than 1 parish at the same time.  If a person would be a parishioner of more than 1 parish at the same time, the person must elect which parish he or she considers himself or herself to be a parishioner.  Any such election, when made, cannot be varied during the 3 months next following the date on which it was made.

(c)    Subject to the rule in (d) following, a person is a "parishioner" of a church if the person is a member of the Anglican Church of Australia and, during 3 months in the 12 months preceding the time at which the status of the person is to be determined, usually attended services of public worship in that church or as part of an associated congregation of that church.

(d)    A person may not be a parishioner of more than 1 church at the same time.  If a person would be a parishioner of more than 1 church at the same time, the person must elect which church he or she considers himself or herself to be a parishioner.  Any such election, when made, cannot be varied during the 3 months next following the date on which it was made.

For this purpose, a "member of the Anglican Church of Australia" is a baptised person who declares that he or she is a member of the Anglican Church of Australia.

Rule 1.1 of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 contains similar rules for when a person is a parishioner of a congregation of a parish.

Clause 2 of the Recognised Churches Ordinance 2000 contains similar rules concerning the meaning of the term "member" for the purposes of membership of a recognised church.

Quorum at a general meeting of parishioners

Under the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 the quorum for a general meeting of parishioners is 7 persons who have signed the required declaration or declarations for participation in the meeting, or the minister and 6 such persons.

If a quorum is not present within half an hour after the time appointed for the meeting, the meeting is adjourned for 7 days. The time and place for the adjourned meeting is the same as for the first meeting.

If a quorum is not present within half an hour after the time appointed for the adjourned meeting, the meeting is dissolved and the Archbishop or person or persons appointed by him –

(a)    may deal as he or they think fit with any of the business that could have been dealt with at that meeting had a quorum been present, and

(b)    if the business of the general meeting included the election of wardens or members of a parish council - may fix a date by which the minister may appoint the warden and members of the parish council that he would have been entitled to appoint, under rules 3.15 and 3.16 of Schedule 1 and rules 3.14 and 3.15 of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, at or within 28 days after the annual general meeting.

Business of a general meeting of parishioners

The business of an annual general meeting or a combined annual general meeting is specified by rule 3.1 of Schedule 1 and 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.

For parishes administered on the basis of their church or churches, a special general meeting of parishioners may be convened for any purpose connected with the church and a general meeting of parishioners of the parish may be convened for any purpose connected with the parish.

For parishes administered as a whole, a special general meeting of parishioners may be convened for any purpose in connection with a congregation of the parish.

Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church

By rule 3.1(1) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, the business of the annual general meeting of a church in a parish with only one church is –

(a)    to receive the declarations of those persons then present (These declarations are those required to be made under the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 before a person (other than the minister) can take part in or be counted for the purposes of a quorum at the annual general meeting.  See Participation in a general meeting of parishioners.)

(b)    to determine whether a quorum is present (See Quorum at a general meeting of parishioners)

(c)    to elect a minute secretary (See Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners)

(d)    to receive apologies

(e)    to give directions as to the confirmation of the minutes at or after its conclusion (See Minutes)

(f)    to receive reports concerning ministry within the parish from the minister and, with the minister's consent, a superintendent, teacher, leader or other officer appointed under rule 3.18(1) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.

(g)    to receive and pass or otherwise determine on the financial statements of the wardens and to receive any report from the wardens about the exercise of their other functions. (See Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners.)

If the financial statements and reports of the wardens have not been audited, the meeting should not receive and pass or otherwise determine on them.  Rather, the meeting should be adjourned until such time as the audited accounts and statements are available: see Adjournment of a general meeting of parishioners.  The chairman of the meeting should tell the regional bishop or his assistant that the annual general meeting of parishioners was adjourned because the statements and accounts had not been audited.

One of the statements of the wardens is the budget for the current calendar year. The annual general meeting of parishioners has power not to pass the budget, or to pass it provided that changes are made to it.  The Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 does not say what happens if the budget is not passed or if it is passed with changes. There are differing views as to the consequences which follow if this occurs.

The first view is that if the budget is not passed, it is to be reviewed and resubmitted to an adjourned annual general meeting of parishioners, or a special general meeting of parishioners, for approval.

The second view is that a failure to pass the budget is, in essence, a recommendation to the parish council that the budget be reviewed. Similarly, if the budget is passed with changes, those changes are only recommendations to the parish council.

Having regard to rule 3.3(1)(b) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 which gives the parish council the right and power to approve budgets, it is suggested that the second view expressed above is correct, namely that a failure to pass the budget, or the passing of the budget with changes, is only a recommendation to the parish council.  The parish council has the right and power to approve changes in the budget and it may subsequently do so in light of the decision of the annual general meeting.

(h)     to receive pass or otherwise determine on any separate financial statements of any organisation of the church or parish

Under rule 3.10 of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, the wardens are responsible for keeping proper financial records of any organisation of the parish or church.  The wardens may incorporate these records as part of the financial statements of the church or parish (in which case they are dealt with under (g) above) or may keep, have audited and present to the meeting separate financial statements for such organisations.

(i)     to receive notification of the name of the person appointed by the minister as a warden (See Appointment of minister's warden)

(j)     to elect 2 qualified persons to be wardens
 

A person is qualified to be elected as a warden in the circumstances set out in rule 2.12 of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.  See Elections for the rules about conducting elections at a general meeting. 

 

(k)     to elect a person or persons of or above the age of 21 years to audit the financial statements and accounts of the wardens
 

While rule 2.16 of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 only requires that the auditor be 21 years of age or older and not a warden of that church, commonsense dictates that the auditor also should not be a member of the parish council or a paid staff member.

The person elected as an auditor should have the appropriate financial expertise necessary to express an independent view as to the correctness, or otherwise, of the accounts.  Ideally, the person will have professional experience as an auditor.

If the annual general meeting fails to elect a person or persons to audit the statements and accounts of the wardens, the parish council may do so under rule 3.4(1)(h) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.

(l)      to determine whether or not qualified persons should be elected as members of the parish council and if in the affirmative -

(i)     to resolve that there be 3, 6 or 9 elected members; and

(ii)     to elect qualified persons to be those members.

In parishes with one church, the annual general meeting may decide not to elect any qualified persons to the parish council.  If this happens, the parish council comprises the minister and wardens.

If the number of members elected to the parish council at the annual general meeting of parishioners is less than the number of 3, 6 or 9 elected members resolved by the meeting, the unfilled positions may be filled by the appointment of qualified persons by the parish council.

See Elections for the rules about conducting elections at a general meeting of parishioners.

(m)     to elect parish nominators if entitled to do so in accordance with the Nomination Ordinance 2006 or to postpone the election until an adjourned or subsequent general meeting of parishioners held in accordance with that Ordinance

Under the Nomination Ordinance 2006 there is a Nomination Board for each parish (not provisional parish) in the Diocese.  The function of the Nomination Board is to nominate a name or names (that is, make a recommendation) to the Archbishop to fill a vacancy in the office of minister of the parish.  The Nomination Board consists of the Regional Bishop, 4 diocesan nominators and 5 nominators from the parish.

In parishes with one church, parish nominators are to be elected at the annual general meeting or at any other general meeting of the parishioners of the church.  However, if there is a vacancy in the office of the minister of the parish which has not been filled at the time of the annual general meeting, the parish nominators are entitled to remain in office until their successors are elected after the vacancy has been filled.  In such circumstances the annual general meeting will not be entitled to elect parish nominators.

(n)     to elect a representative or representatives under the Synod Membership Ordinance 1995 if entitled to do so or to postpone the election until an adjourned or subsequent general meeting of parishioners

Under part 4 of the Synod Membership Ordinance 1995, parishes are entitled to elect 2 representatives and a provisional parish is entitled to elect 1 representative.  Such persons are members of the Synod and are entitled to attend Synod and to participate and vote in its proceedings.

A person is elected as a representative for a Synod, which lasts for a period of 3 years.  The election usually takes place at the annual general meeting of parishioners last held before the commencement of a new Synod.

(o)     to make such recommendations as it may wish on any matter connected with the business of the church or parish, including any matter which it is appropriate for the wardens or parish council to deal with

This gives the annual general meeting a wide power to consider matters connected with the business of the church or parish.  The key point is that the power of the general meeting is only to make recommendations.  It has no power, for example, to direct that the minister or wardens act, or not act, in a particular way. As with all business of the annual general meeting, recommendations are made by resolution of a majority of persons present at and entitled to take part in the meeting.

(p)     to exercise any other function which may be authorised by ordinance.

Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with more than one church

Rule 3.1(2) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 sets out the business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of each church in a parish with more than one church.  Some of the business is reserved to the principal church.  It is therefore important to know which is the principal church.

The principal church in a parish with more than one church should readily be identifiable having regard to the relative size of congregations, resources etc.  Should there be any dispute as to which church is for the time being the principal church, the Regional Bishop may determine that dispute.  The minister or parishioners involved in the question or dispute may appeal any determination of the Regional Bishop to the Archbishop.

The business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of each church in a parish with more than one church is –

(a)    to receive the declarations of those persons then present (These declarations are those required to be made under the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 before a person (other than the minister) can take part in or be counted for the purposes of a quorum at the annual general meeting of parishioners.  See Participation in a general meeting of parishioners.)

(b)    to determine whether a quorum is present (See Quorum at a general meeting of parishioners)

(c)    to elect a minute secretary (See Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners)

(d)    to receive apologies

(e)    to give directions as to the confirmation of the minutes at or after its conclusion (See Minutes)

(f)    to receive reports concerning ministry within the parish from the minister and, with the minister's consent, a superintendent, teacher, leader or other officer appointed under rule 3.18(1) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.

(g)     to receive and pass or otherwise determine on the statements of the wardens and to receive any report from the wardens about the exercise of their other functions (See Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners and the comments made under paragraph (g) of Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church.)

(h)     to receive pass or otherwise determine on any separate financial statements of any organisation of the church or parish (See comments made under paragraph (h) of Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church.)

(i)     to receive notification of the name of the person appointed by the minister as a warden (See Appointment of minister's warden.)

(j)     to elect 2 qualified persons to be wardens (A person is qualified to be elected as a warden in the circumstances set out in rule 2.12 of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.  See Elections for the rules about conducting elections at a general meeting of parishioners.)

(k)     to elect a person or persons of or above the age of 21 years to audit the statements and accounts of the wardens (See the comments under paragraph (k) of Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church.)

(l)     if the constitution of the parish council has not been modified under rule 2.5 of Schedule 1 and it is the annual general meeting of the principal church of the parish, to elect 3, 6 or 9 qualified persons to be members of the parish council

A parish with more than one church must have a parish council constituted in the manner set out in rule 2.4(2) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, subject to the modifications permitted under rule 2.5 of Schedule 1.

If the number of members elected to the parish council at the annual general meeting of parishioners is less than the number of 3, 6 or 9 elected members determined by the meeting, the unfilled positions may be filled by the appointment of qualified persons by the parish council.

See Elections for the rules about conducting elections at a general meeting of parishioners.

(m)     if the constitution of the parish council has been modified under rule 2.5 of Schedule 1 to elect such qualified persons as the annual general meeting of parishioners is entitled to elect under the terms of the modification to be members of the parish council (See Elections for the rules about conducting elections at a general meeting of parishioners.)

(n)     to make such recommendations as it may wish on any matter connected with the business of the church or parish, including any matter which it is appropriate for the wardens or parish council to deal with (See comments made under paragraph (o) of Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church.)

(o)     to exercise any other function which may be authorised by any ordinance.

Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a parish administered as a whole

Rule 3.1 of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 sets out the following business of an annual general meeting of parishioners of a parish administered as a whole -

(a)      to receive the declarations of those persons then present (These declarations are those required to be made under the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 before a person (other than the minister) can take part in or be counted for the purposes of a quorum at the annual general meeting of parishioners.  See Participation in a general meeting of parishioners.)

(b)      to determine whether a quorum is present (See Quorum at a general meeting of parishioners)

(c)      to elect a minute secretary (See Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners)

(d)      to receive apologies

(e)      to give directions as to the confirmation of the minutes at or after its conclusion (See Minutes)

(f)       to receive reports concerning ministry within the parish from the minister and, with the minister's consent, a superintendent, teacher, leader or other officer appointed under rule 3.17(1) of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.

(g)      to receive and pass or otherwise determine on the statements of the wardens and to receive any report from the wardens about the exercise of their other functions (See Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners and the comments made under paragraph (g) of Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church.)

(h)      to receive, pass or otherwise determine on any separate financial statements of any organisation of the church or parish (See comments made under paragraph (h) of Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church.)

(i)       to receive notification of the name of the person appointed by the minister as a warden (See Appointment of minister's warden.)

(j)       to elect 2 qualified persons to be wardens (A person is qualified to be elected as a warden in the circumstances set out in rule 2.11 of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.  See Elections for the rules about conducting elections at a general meeting of parishioners.)

(k)      to elect a person or persons of or above the age of 21 years to audit the statements and accounts of the wardens (See the comments under paragraph (k) of Business of the annual general meeting of parishioners of a church in a parish with only one church.)

(l)       to determine –

(i)     whether or not qualified persons should be elected as members of the parish council, and

(ii)     whether or not the parish council should include a qualified person elected by the members of each congregation voting separately from the members of the other congregations.

(m)     if paragraph (l)(i) is answered in the affirmation but paragraph (l)(ii) is answered in the negative, the annual general meeting of parishioners is –

(i)       to resolve that there be 3, 6 or 9 elected members, and

(ii)      to elect qualified persons to be those members.

The annual general meeting may decide not to elect any qualified persons to the parish council. If this happens, the parish council comprises the minister and wardens.

If the number of members elected to the parish council at the annual general meeting of parishioners is less than the number of 3, 6 or 9 elected members resolved by the meeting, the unfilled positions may be filled by the appointment of qualified persons by the parish council.

(n)      if both paragraphs (l)(i) and (l)(ii) are answered in the affirmative –

(i)       the annual general meeting of parishioners is –

(A)     to resolve there are to be 0, 1, 2 or 3 elected persons, and

(B)     to elect qualified persons to be these members, and

(ii)      the members of each congregation at the annual general meeting of parishioners voting separately from the members of the other congregations are to elect 1 qualified person to be a member of the parish council

See Elections for the rules about conducting elections at a general meeting of parishioners.

(o)      to elect parish nominators if entitled to do so in accordance with the Nomination Ordinance 2006 or to postpone the election until an adjourned or subsequent general meeting of parishioners held in accordance with that Ordinance

Under the Nomination Ordinance 2006 there is a Nomination Board for each parish (not provisional parish) in the Diocese.  The function of the Nomination Board is to nominate a name or names (that is, make a recommendation) to the Archbishop to fill a vacancy in the office of minister of the parish.  The Nomination Board consists of the Regional Bishop, 4 diocesan nominators and 5 nominators from the parish.

Parish nominators are to be elected at the annual general meeting or at any other general meeting of the parishioners of the parish.  However, if there is a vacancy in the office of the minister of the parish which has not been filled at the time of the annual general meeting, the parish nominators are entitled to remain in office until their successors are elected after the vacancy has been filled. In such circumstances the annual general meeting will not be entitled to elect parish nominators.

(p)      to elect a representative or representatives under the Synod Membership Ordinance 1995 if entitled to do so or to postpone the election until an adjourned or subsequent general meeting of parishioners

Under part 4 of the Synod Membership Ordinance 1995, parishes are entitled to elect 2 representatives and a provisional parish is entitled to elect 1 representative. Such persons are members of the Synod and are entitled to attend Synod and to participate and vote in its proceedings.

A person is elected as a representative for a Synod, which lasts for a period of 3 years. The election usually takes place at the annual general meeting of parishioners last held before the commencement of a new Synod.

(q)      to make such recommendations as it may wish on any matter connected with the business of the church or parish, including any matter which it is appropriate for the wardens or parish council to deal with

This gives the annual general meeting a wide power to consider matters connected with the business of the parish.  The key point is that the power of the general meeting is only to make recommendations.  It has no power, for example, to direct that the minister or wardens act, or not act, in a particular way.  As with all business of the annual general meeting, recommendations are made by resolution of a majority of persons present at and entitled to take part in the meeting.

(r)       to exercise any other function which may be authorised by ordinance.

Business of other general meetings of parishioners

The business of a general meeting of parishioners (other than an annual general meeting) will include -

(a)     receiving the declarations of those persons then present (See Participation in a general meeting of parishioners)

(b)     determining whether a quorum is present (See Quorum at a general meeting of parishioners)

(c)     electing a minute secretary (See Preparations for a general meeting of parishioners)

(d)     receiving apologies

(e)     giving directions as to the reading of the minutes of the meeting at or after its conclusion (See Minutes)

The other business of a combined annual general meeting of parishioners will be those matters referred to in rule 3.1(2) of Schedule 1 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 as are specified to be the business of the meeting by the regional bishop-in-council in the permission granted for a combined annual general meeting of parishioners.  See Obtaining permission for a combined annual general meeting of parishioners.

The other business of a special general meeting of parishioners will be that business connected with the church for which the meeting has been called to consider.  It could include one or more of the following -

(a)    the filling of a casual vacancy in the office of an elected warden,

(b)    where the church is the only church in a parish or is the principal church in a parish with more than one church - to fill a vacancy in the office of Synod representative,

(c)    to fill a vacancy in the office of parish nominator,

(d)    to ascertain the views of parishioners concerning a proposal to close the church under rule 5.8 of Schedule 1 or rule 5.7 of Schedule 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008.

The other business of a general meeting of parishioners will be that business connected with the parish for which the meeting has been called.

Conducting the general meeting of parishioners

Other than specifying rules for who chairs the general meeting of parishioners, and rules for conducting elections, the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 is silent on the rules for conducting a general meeting of parishioners.  Where the Ordinance does not otherwise specify, the meeting is to be conducted in accordance with applicable general law principles and good common sense.

Chairman of the Meeting

The minister is the chairman of the general meeting of parishioners although, if present, he may authorise another person entitled to take part in the meeting to be the chairman.  A minister who authorises another person to be chairman may revoke that authorisation at any time.

If the minister is not present, before proceeding to or with any business, the meeting is to elect a chairman to preside during the minister's absence.

The chairman has a casting vote only.

The chairman of the general meeting of parishioners has a number of important duties, the most important of which are -

(a)     ensuring that the meeting deals with the business for which it has been convened, and

(b)     taking care to ensure that the mind of the meeting is properly ascertained on any question before it, and

(c)     preserving order.

The chairman of the meeting should be familiar with the principles for conducting a meeting.  There are a number of books available to help.

Preservation of order

The rules for the preservation of order include the following –

(a)    No-one is permitted to speak without the permission of the chairman. Thus, the chairman is entitled to ask that there be no private talk or heckling remarks.

(b)    A speaker cannot make offensive statements or impute improper motives to any person. The chairman can call upon a person to withdraw and apologise.

(c)    A speaker is to resume his or her seat if requested by the chairman. The chairman can make such a request if a person is speaking for too long or does not keep to the point under discussion.

Resolutions

All decisions of the general meeting of parishioners (other than elections) should be made by resolution. The making of a resolution is the best way to ensure that matters are fully discussed, and the mind of the meeting on a question is ascertained.

The following procedure should be adopted for making a resolution –

(a)    When a matter arises for decision, the chairman should require that a motion is moved for the meeting to consider. The purpose of a motion is to focus the discussion.  No discussion on a matter should be permitted unless there is a motion before the meeting.  Otherwise discussion tends to wander.

(b)    The chairman should call the person who wants to move the motion and ask that the person read the motion to the meeting. The mover should write the motion down and give a copy to the chairman.

(c)    If there is any ambiguity or imprecision in the terms of the motion, the chairman should ask the mover for clarification. If the motion is too ambiguous or imprecise, the chairman should not accept the motion and call for another motion.

(d)    If a motion is accepted, the chairman should then ask that it be seconded. The purpose of having a motion seconded is to ensure that at least one other person wants the motion to be considered by the meeting. If the motion is not seconded, it should not be further considered.

(e)    After the motion has been seconded, the chairman should invite the mover to speak in support of his or her motion. The Ordinance does not specify how long the mover may speak for. The chairman should have no hesitation in asking the mover to finish if he or she is repeating points already made or is not keeping to the point.

(f)    After the mover has finished his or her speech, the seconder should be invited to speak to the motion. If the seconder does not speak, he or she may do so later in the debate, if the seconder wishes.

(g)    The chairman should then ask if anyone has questions to clarify the effect or purpose of the motion. Normally the mover would be asked to answer the questions but, if he or she is unable to do so, it is permissible for another person to do so.

(h)    After sufficient time for questions has been allowed, the chairman should invite discussion and amendments. A person wishing to move an amendment should read his or her amendment to the meeting when asked by the chairman to do so. Any amendment should be written down and a copy given to the chairman. The chairman should then ask if the amendment is seconded. If it is not seconded, it should not be further considered.

(i)     Then, at the conclusion of discussion, the amendments should be put individually by the chairman in the order in which they affect the motion.

(j)    After consideration of all the amendments, the principal motion, as amended, is put to the meeting. If the motion, as amended, is carried, it becomes a duly passed resolution of the meeting.

Elections

The Parish Administration Ordinance 2008 sets out specific rules concerning the elections to be conducted at a general meeting of parishioners.  By rule 4.6 of Schedule 1 and Schedule 2, the following rules apply -

(a)    A person may not be nominated unless he or she has consented verbally or in writing to the nominator or another person at the meeting.  A person making a nomination must be present at the meeting although a person who has been nominated need not be.

(b)    If the number of nominated candidates for election to an office does not exceed the number of vacancies to be filled, the election is uncontested and the following rules apply -

(i)    The chairman is to move a motion that the candidates be elected.

(ii)    If the motion is carried, the chairman is to declare the candidates elected.

(iii)    If the motion is not carried, the chairman shall call again for nominations.

(c)    If the number of candidates nominated for election to an office exceeds the number of vacancies to be filled, the election is contested and the following rules apply -

(i)   Voting is to be conducted by secret ballot.

(ii)    Each person entitled to take part in the meeting must not vote for more than the number of candidates to be elected.

(iii)    The candidate who obtains, or the candidates who obtain, the higher or highest number of votes is elected.

(iv)    If, in respect of the last vacancy to be filled, 2 or more candidates each obtain an equal number of votes, the election is to be determined on the casting vote of the chairman.

(d)    In conducting any secret ballot -

(i)    proxies and preferential voting are not permitted, and

(ii)    where possible, there are to be at least 2 scrutineers, being persons not standing for election.

The effect of these rules is that postal voting or absentee voting is not permitted.

Minutes

The minutes of a meeting are to record all decisions (resolutions and election results) of the meeting.  Whether the minutes record additional information (such as comments, unsuccessful amendments) is largely a matter for direction from the chairman. For this reason, the chairman needs to consult with the minute secretary about the amount of detail to be included in the minutes.

At or following the conclusion of the meeting, the minutes are to be confirmed in accordance with the direction given by the general meeting.

It is important that the minutes are confirmed at, or as soon as possible after, the conclusion of the meeting to ensure that they accurately reflect the proceedings of the meeting.  The way in which the minutes are to be confirmed is to be determined by the general meeting.  It is recommended that the meeting appoint 1 or 2 (ideally 2) persons at the meeting to read the minutes and direct that the chairman sign the minutes upon that minute reader, or those minute readers, certifying as to their correctness.

Adjournment of a general meeting of parishioners

A general meeting of parishioners may be adjourned -

(a)    because there is no quorum present, or

(b)    if a quorum is present - by resolution of the meeting.

Where there is no quorum

The adjournment of the meeting where there is no quorum present is dealt with in the section Quorum at a general meeting of parishioners.

Adjournment by the meeting

If a quorum is present at a meeting, the meeting may from time to time be adjourned to such time and place as the meeting may determine.

Where a general meeting of parishioners is adjourned to a day after the next succeeding Sunday, notice of the adjourned meeting is to be given by announcement at such service or services of public worship as may be held in the relevant church or churches on the Sunday prior to the adjourned meeting.  If the parish is administered as a whole, notice of the adjournment is to be given by announcement at the service of public worship for each congregation held prior to the adjourned meeting. 

Provided that notice of the adjourned meeting is given in this way, the minister may give such other notice of the adjourned meeting as the minister thinks fit.

After the general meeting of parishioners

Care needs to be taken to ensure that all things required to be done after a general meeting of parishioners are done within any applicable time limits.

This section provides examples of things that will, or may, need to be done.

Preparation and confirmation of the minutes

The minutes of the general meeting are to be prepared by the minute secretary and be confirmed in accordance with the directions given by the general meeting.  See Minutes.

Minister's appointments

If the general meeting is an annual general meeting of parishioners and the minister does not appoint a qualified person to be a warden within 7 days of the election of wardens at that meeting, he is to endeavour to do so as soon as possible after the meeting.

If the minister does not, at the annual general meeting of parishioners, appoint one qualified person to be a member of the parish council for each 3 persons determined by the annual general meeting to be elected as members of the parish council, he is to do so within 28 days after the meeting.  The right to make such an appointment lapses if it has not been exercised within that 28 days.

Send copies of financial statements and reports to the Diocesan Secretary

Within 7 days after an annual general meeting of parishioners the wardens are to forward to the Diocesan Secretary copies of the following financial statements received at the annual general meeting -

(a)    the statement of the receipts and payments of the church or parish during the previous calendar year, and

(b)    the statement of assets of the church or parish at the close of the previous calendar year, and

(c)    if separate accounts are kept by the wardens of money collected, expended or held in connection with matters affecting the parish as a whole and not being the responsibility of any one church only, separate statements in accordance with (a) and (b) above with regard to such money, and

(d)    a statement in the form prescribed by resolution of the Standing Committee setting out full particulars of all current insurances required to be effected by them.

Delivery of keys, documents, books of account etc to successors

The wardens are to, within 7 days after an annual general meeting of parishioners, deliver to their successors all keys, church papers, financial records, invoices for payment and the balance of funds shown by the financial records for which they are responsible.

Report names of wardens, parish councillors etc

Promptly after a general meeting of parishioners, the minister is to report to the Registrar the names, addresses and acceptances of all persons elected or appointed to be trustees, wardens or members of the parish council at that meeting.

Report names of Synod representatives

If the business of the general meeting includes the election of a parochial representative or representatives under the Synod Membership Ordinance 1995, the chairman of the meeting is to give, or cause to be given, to the Registrar a written notice specifying –

(a)    the name, address and date of election of the person elected to be a parish representative, and

(b)    the Synod for which the person has been elected to be a parish representative.

Notification of names of new parish nominators

If the business of the general meeting of parishioners includes the election of a parish nominator or nominators to the Nomination Board, the chairman of the meeting, within 7 days of the meeting, is to send to the Registrar a list certified by the chairman which sets out fully the name, address and occupation of the person or persons elected.

Questions and disputes arising from a general meeting of parishioners

Questions and disputes arise from time to time about the conduct of a general meeting of parishioners.

The procedure for dealing with questions and disputes is set out in Chapter 8 of Schedules 1 and 2 of the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008

The policy of the Diocese is that any dispute between the minister and any of the members of the church should be solved in a prayerful and pastoral manner, having regard to the rights and duties of those persons, rather than by legal decision.

Questions and disputes about meetings, elections and appointments

Power to determine questions and disputes

If any question or dispute arises as to whether –

(a)    any meeting was properly called or conducted in accordance with the Parish Administration Ordinance 2008, or

(b)    any election or appointment of any person or persons to any office established or provided by the Ordinance has been conducted or made in accordance with the Ordinance,

the question or dispute may be determined by the regional bishop-in-council or, if the regional bishop-in-council so decides, by a disputes and conciliation committee consisting of at least 3 persons.

The members of the disputes and conciliation committee are appointed by the regional bishop-in-council and are to include a minister licensed to a parish and a lay person.  Such members hold office for such term and in accordance with such conditions as may be specified by the regional bishop-in-council.

Only a person or persons interested may raise a question or dispute for determination. The expression "person or persons interested" is not defined in the Ordinance.  Generally speaking, a parishioner in attendance at the general meeting of parishioners from which the question or dispute arises is regarded as a "person interested".

Procedure

For the purposes of determining the question or dispute, the regional bishop-in-council or a disputes and conciliation committee, as the case may be, may give all such notices and may make such inquiries and do all such things as appear reasonable and proper in the circumstances.

Decisions which may be given

If the regional bishop-in-council or the disputes and conciliation committee, as the case may be, determines that the general meeting has not been effectively or properly called or conducted in accordance with the Ordinance, they may -

(a)    declare that in the circumstances of the case the meeting was called and conducted substantially in accordance with the Ordinance, that no injury has been caused and that no further meeting is required to be called, or

(b)    declare that the meeting was not called and conducted substantially in accordance with the Ordinance, that no injury has been caused and that no further meeting is required to be called, or

(c)    direct that another meeting be called for all or any of the purposes for which the original meeting was or should have been called, as the circumstances of the case may require, specifying the purposes for which the meeting is to be called.

If it is determined that the election or appointment of any person has not been conducted or made in accordance with the Ordinance on the ground that the person was not qualified for election or appointment to the office, the regional bishop-in-council or the disputes and conciliation committee, as the case may be, is to direct that a new election or appointment be conducted or made, as the case may be, to replace the person.

If it is determined that the election or appointment of any person has not be conducted or made in accordance with the Ordinance on any other ground the regional bishop-in-council or a disputes and conciliation committee, as the case may be, may either -

(a)    declare that in the circumstances of the case the election or appointment is to stand as if it had been validly and properly conducted or made, or

(b)    direct that the election or appointment is not to stand and that a vacancy be declared as from the date of direction.

Appeal

The minister or parishioners involved in any question or dispute determined by the regional bishop-in-council or a disputes committee may appeal against the determination to the Archbishop-in-Council.

 

 

The contents of this document are for general information only. No person should rely on the contents of this document without first obtaining advice from a qualified professional person. Neither the Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney nor any organisation thereof is responsible for the results of any action taken on the basis of the contents of this document, nor for any error in or omission from this document.

 

 

Current as at 14 May 2012