Monday, March 03, 2014

Are you on our Electoral Roll? We need you!

We are currently revising our church electoral roll in preparation for our Annual Meeting on April 6. We don't need to do a complete revision of the roll this year, with everyone signing up again, but we can add new members in time for this meeting. The deadline for signing up is March 22.Only those on the electoral roll have a vote at this meeting. It is also the only way of being entitled to burial in the churchyard if you don't live in the parish, (interment of ashes is possible, at my discretion, however, wherever you live).

The  main reason why we encourage people to come onto the electoral roll, however, is that it gives them a formal say in our church's life, and
also in the life of the wider church. The number of lay members we can elect to our local Deanery Synod - the body of representatives from local churches in and around Sevenoaks - is determined by the size of our electoral roll. Those Deanery Synod members in turn elect our Diocese's lay representatives to General Synod, and this is the body which makes the crucial decisions about Church of England policies and practices. They determine things like whether women can be bishops and the Church's official position on gay marriage. If you've ever been frustrated at what "The Church" is doing or saying at its highest levels, then it's important to remember that it all starts with us here in parishes, making our views known through our Deanery, Diocesan and General Synod reps.

A recent review of the formula for calculating the number of lay reps we can have on Deanery Synod reduced the number for churches of our size (we currently have 112 on the electoral roll) from 3 to 2. If we could get 151 or more on the roll, we would regain that third representative - so it is over to us to see if we can do that by March 22nd, when the roll is closed until the Annual meeting. The race is on!

Who can be on the electoral roll?

  • You need to be over 16 and to have been baptised.
And either...
  • to live in Seal parish, and declare yourself to be a "member" of the Church of England. There are no formal criteria for what "member" means - it is your own declaration.
  • Or , if you don't live in the parish, to be a "habitual worshipper" with us in the six months before you apply.
  • Or , if you are a member of another Christian denomination, (e.g. a Roman Catholic or Methodist) who has regularly worshiped with us in the six months before applying, you can declare that you also want to be considered a "member" of the Church of England, and still retain your membership of those churches too.
If you would have come to worship with us, but have been prevented by illness or some other difficulty, you can still qualify - let me know if that applies to you, as this is judged case by case.

As you can see, the entitlement is fairly broad, so if you think of Seal Church as "your" church and want it to have a voice in the wider church, as well as making sure your voice is heard here, coming onto our electoral roll really matters.

If you aren't signed up PLEASE DO SO! 
(And tell any friends or neighbours who might consider joining too.)
There is no financial commitment involved in coming onto the roll. We might send you information about church activities from time to time - by post or email if you provide us with an email address - but you won't be bombarded with communications (I'm not that organised....!)

The form for enrolling is here. Please fill it in and return it to me (Revd Anne Le Bas, The Vicarage, Church Street, Seal, Kent, TN15 0AR) by March 22nd.

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