Guildford Diocesan Registry

Duties during an Vacancy in the benefice

During an interregnum, Churchwardens automatically become the sequestrators of the Benefice along with the Area Dean. Sequestration is simply an ecclesiastical term for being trustee of the income of the benefice which will primarily be marriage, baptism and burial fees that are paid during the vacancy. In addition the Churchwardens are required to:

  • ensure that services are maintained in the parish church and that the costs of visiting clergy are paid;
  • that the pastoral needs of the parishioners are looked after;
  • the vicarage and any other property of the benefice is looked after.

In practice the Churchwardens will be helped by the PCC, but the primary responsibility is theirs during a vacancy.

There are a number of very helpful publications for Churchwardens to help them through this time. Initially, Churchwardens should look at the Archdeacons' vacancy pack, which can be found through the Diocesan website here. Churchwardens may also find it helpful to have to hand the Diocesan Policies, Procedures and Regulations on Public Worship; although, during a vacancy, the Rural Dean takes over some parish responsibilities such as for marriages.

The following available publications may also assist:

  • An extremely helpful article written for The English Clergy Association, available here.