Starting My Journey as a PCC Member
The green WhatsApp notification light blinked on my phone.
It was a message asking me to consider serving in the Parochial Church Council. What does the PCC do? What is it like? How often does it meet?
Being a lawyer, I first asked to read the Cathedral’s Constitution. From it, I learned that the PCC comprises the Vicar, the churchwardens, a maximum of twelve lay members, and the Synod representatives of the church. It has to oversee the financial affairs of the church, the care and upkeep of the church’s property, the employment of non-pastoral staff and it has to meet at least once every two months. The PCC could also appoint sub-committees to help in carrying out its duties. Essentially, it was similar to a company’s board of directors.
However, the Constitution only gave me basic facts. To find out about what the PCC really is like, I had to talk to some people.
The Vicar was one of the first few people I spoke to, although not by choice – he had heard that I was considering serving on the PCC and came up to me at the Alpha Weekend Away. He was encouraged by younger members being willing to serve on PCC. He said, “Younger leaders would be more attuned to today’s needs and can help the PCC see from a wider perspective, as indeed the world has changed so much and so rapidly too.”
It was hard to disagree with that.
I then spoke to Deaconess Bessie, who is my service pastor. She told me about some of the new challenges that the church has to face. She said a new sub-committee will be formed to oversee security matters in the church. She explained why: “For churches in major cities of the world today, we are in a tension between having our churches be welcoming and open to all people, and doing what is responsible in keeping the worshippers in the services safe. It will not just be about hiring a good team of security professionals, because every member contributes to making the church
welcoming and safe by not only co-operating with security measures but supporting them as well. The Security Committee of the PCC gives leadership and direction in this matter.”
At the same time, we also looked to our history, as another new sub-committee, the Heritage Committee, will look into ways to enhance our heritage tours and how we can preserve and highlight the church’s heritage, to the glory of God.
I also wanted to know what the people in the PCC were like. I asked Joel Tan, who works in the finance department in church, about his interaction with the Finance and Property Committee last year. He said: “The committee members are very dedicated and committed. You will also get exposed to a lot of things that the church is actually involved in which you were not aware of before.”
But did the PCC only sit and meet? My misperception was corrected when I spoke to Soh Kim Seng, who is a returning PCC member. One of the sub-committees he served on was the Community Services and Welfare Committee, and he explained that part of the work included calling people who were asking the church for financial assistance to determine whether the assistance should be given.
In short, PCC was a lot of work.
By the grace of God, I was elected into the PCC. Despite my “research” into the work of the PCC before, I was not too sure what to expect for the first meeting. I arrived slightly late for the pre-meeting dinner and by then most of the other members were there already, tucking into their wanton noodles. To my disappointment, it was not cooked by the Vicar, though I would have believed him if he had said that he had cooked it.
There was hardly any time for chit chat or introductions and the PCC seemed to be going on with business as usual. The meeting started before I could finish my food. After a short opening prayer, the architects presented their proposals on the projects for a lift in the Nave, a new chapter house and a shelter for the amphitheatre, amongst many others. A lot of questions were asked, ranging from maintenance to fire safety. There truly were a lot of things the church was involved in that I was not aware of.
After that, membership of the various sub-committees was discussed and decisions on the chairpersons made. Authorisation limits for approval of expenditure were also talked about. A new taskforce comprising the lawyers in the PCC was also formed to review the church Constitution – I was glad to be able to (hopefully) contribute with my work experience even though I was relatively
younger than most of the other members.
Sara Liew and Samantha Lee were, like me, also first-time PCC members. I asked them what they thought about the first meeting.
Sara said: “I think the matters that were discussed like improvement to the church building facilities and new programmes to attract new members to the church are very relevant and topical issues.”
Samantha added: “It has given me a new perspective from the other side of the table. I see for myself how issues and concerns went through a process of being discussed, debated and weighed so that different parts of the Cathedral community can be properly represented.”
While I echo their thoughts, it is difficult for the PCC to adequately represent the varied needs and concerns of a church our size. Pray for us as we seek His will for our church together, and join in our work by talking to a PCC member, whether to share your thoughts on proposals, or just to encourage us.
This article was written by Esther Yee.