The Governing Body is responsible for decisions that affect the Church’s Faith, Order and Worship. It also has powers to make regulations “for the general management and good government of the Church, and the property and affairs thereof.” (from Chapter II Part IV of the Constitution of the Church in Wales http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/resources/constitution-handbooks/consitution-of-church-in-wales/chapter-2-the-governing-body/).
The Governing Body is the supreme legislature of the Church in Wales; broadly speaking the Parliament of the Church in Wales. It usually meets twice a year to receive reports and make decisions on matters brought before it. These can be as wide ranging as:
- the introduction of new orders of service (e.g. the 2004 order for the Holy Eucharist)
- the decision to affiliate the Church in Wales to the Make Poverty History campaign
- the decisions to admit women to the Priesthood and to the Episcopate in Wales
- the passing of a Local Ecumenical Partnerships Bill to allow local churches to set up formal partnerships with other denominations
Composition of the Governing Body
The Governing Body is composed of three “orders”. Although some changes only require an overall majority, most major changes require a majority in each house to be passed. The three orders consist of:
- the Bench of Bishops (the six diocesan bishops);
- the Clergy (51 clerical representatives plus any full-time stipendiary assistant bishops);
- the Laity (86 non-clerical representatives).
The majority of the clerical and lay representatives are elected at a diocesan level, but others will be co-opted by the Governing Body itself.
The overall size of the Governing Body is 144 members.
Any cleric who –
- holds a dignity; a cathedral preferment; a benefice or other office within the Church in Wales; or a licence from a Welsh Diocesan Bishop;
- AND is not in the full-time salaried employment of the Representative Body, a Diocesan Board of Finance or any other such provincial or diocesan body within the Church in Wales;
- AND has neither retired nor reached his or her 70th birthday.
Any lay communicant over 18 and under 75 years of age who –
- either resides or has resided at any time for a period of 12 months in a Church in Wales parish;
- OR whose name appears in the electoral roll of any parish in Wales;
- AND who does not belong to a religious body which is not in communion with the Church in Wales.
- AND is not in the salaried employment of the Representative Body, a Diocesan Board of Finance or any other such provincial or diocesan body within the Church in Wales
Members serve for a three year period of election or co-option initially but may stand for re-election if they are eligible to do so.
The Governing Body must meet once a year; in practice, it usually meets twice. Meetings generally last just over 24 hours, from lunchtime on Day 1 to the afternoon of Day 2.
The Standing Committee meets three times a year in Cardiff and Shrewsbury, and its Sub-committees met up to three times a year, in Cardiff or when members are already gathered.
The provisional dates for meetings in 2016 are 6-7 April (Llandudno) and 14-15 September (Lampeter).
Governing Body business covers a very wide agenda ranging from the governance of the Church, liturgy & doctrine, to issues of social concern. As such the Governing Body needs members with a wide range of interests. In order for the Governing Body to represent the views of the Church as a whole it is important that members can reflect the views of their local churches as well as reporting back to them on the work of the Governing Body.
Accommodation and meals are provided at meetings, & reasonable travel costs are reimbursed.