CARE OF CHURCH BUILDINGS

Each Diocese has a Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC).

The DAC includes members with expertise in particular areas relating to church buildings, such as architecture, organs, archaeology, etc. The DAC’s main role is in advising the Chancellor of the Diocese in connection with applications for Faculties to authorise the carrying out of works to churches and churchyards. However, the DAC is always willing to give advice to parishes prior to their making applications for Faculties.

The Archdeacons should be involved at the initial stages and will often introduce the DAC either for their own advice or for the Parish but they cannot at any stage give permission for any works to proceed.  No costs are incurred by the Parish for this service, funded by the Representative Body which has the legal responsibility for the properties.  The DAC aims to share information, good practice and experience where there is a need.

A Guide to the Faculty Rules

The Purpose of the Rules

The purpose of the Faculty Rules is to control alterations and repairs intended to be made to church buildings and their contents and to churchyards. An alteration to a church might have theological, artistic, architectural or archaeological implications or might raise matters of law or safety or insurance. For these reasons the Church must ensure that these factors are considered carefully before alterations are made. In addition, CADW, on behalf of the National Assembly, lists many church buildings as being of special architectural or historic interest and it requires that changes to those church buildings be strictly controlled.

The rules have been drawn up to take into account many considerations beyond the simply procedural, and at the same time seek to reconcile a number of sometimes conflicting requirements.

  • They seek:
    • to satisfy the needs of churches as centres of worship and mission and yet comply with the legal requirements needed to keep the ecclesiastical exemption (for a definition of what this means, see the Ecclesiastical Exemption heading later on);
    • to be comprehensive enough to regulate major building operations and yet avoid bureaucracy in dealing with minor items;
    • to avoid unnecessary restrictions on arranging movable items and yet provide for due consideration of churchmanship;
    • to satisfy the Representative Body’s responsibility as trustee of the churches and yet not overburden it with minor items;
    • to overcome the previous difficulty of defining items which required a “minor faculty” (which has been done by abolishing minor faculties and requiring all items to have either a full faculty or come within a list of exceptions, which can be seen in the Constitution, Volume II, Section 4.2, third schedule).

The Faculty Rules are designed to take all these matters into account while at the same time striving to create as little bureaucracy as the situation allows. They must cater for everything from changing light fittings to building a new tower.

A faculty IS…

A faculty (in this context) is an ecclesiastical licence which gives permission to make physical alterations.

A faculty is NOT…

A faculty is not consent to dispose of or deal with the legal ownership of an item. The churches and (in most cases) the contents of churches belong to the Representative Body and questions of sale or disposal are quite separate from faculty procedure. The Representative Body must be separately consulted on such matters.

The faculty system

The faculty system is part of the judicial system in the Courts of the Church in Wales: it is not simply an administrative system. This means that if anyone objects to the proposed grant of a faculty they have a chance to put their case in the diocesan court. Decisions are made by the Diocesan Chancellor not the Diocesan Advisory Committee. In practice very few applications for faculties are required to be heard in open court.

When is a faculty needed?

Any proposed works to or dealings with the contents of churches require a faculty. This includes unconsecrated churches or church-yards if the Bishop so decrees. (The reason for this is to ensure that such churches or church-yards, If Listed or lying within a conservation area, are subject to the State’s code of practice for the retention of Ecclesiastical Exemption). However, there are some exceptions and these are dealt with in the Constitution, Volume II, Section 4.2, third schedule.

  • Principally, no faculty is required in respect of the following: –
    • The minor matters which are listed in the Constitution, Volume II, Section 4.2 schedule III, although it should be noted that in some cases the Bishop or the Incumbent or the PCC may require a faculty to be obtained.
    • Those matters concerning churchyards are dealt with in the Churchyard Regulations (the Constitution, Volume II, Section 2).

Removal of fixtures, fittings and contents

The removal of fixtures, fittings and contents must be approved by the Representative Body’s Property Committee as part of the Faculty process where the church building is consecrated. Additionally, where the church is listed and no longer used as a place of worship the proposed removal of any items which would affect its character must be the subject of a listed building consent application to the local planning authority. Under the state’s code of practice, the date of the declaration of redundancy is taken as the date when Ecclesiastical Exemption from listed building controls ceases. Failure to secure the necessary consent renders the person responsible potentially liable to fine or imprisonment.

The proposed removal of items before redundancy will require faculty approval from the diocesan court. If items are to be transferred to another church building vested in the Representative Body of the Church in Wales then a faculty approval will also be required from the diocesan court of the receiving church building. If in doubt the secretaries of the Diocesan Churches and Pastoral Committee and / or Diocesan Advisory Committee should be consulted along with the Churches Officer of the Representative Body.

Redundant Churches Regulations

When the Bishop declares the church to be redundant, Diocesan Churches and Pastoral Committee will seek guidance from the DAC on any archaeological, artistic and historical merits of the Church and its contents