Sidesmen or Sidespersons, are the Churchwardens’ assistants. “Sidesman” is an
ancient position in the Church of England; the name is a corruption of the term
“synod’s man”, a title referring to prominent members of the congregation who
represented the parish to the Diocesan Synod. Nowadays there is a separate
process for electing people to the Deanery and Diocesan synods,
The Canon of the Church of England says the duty of Sidespersons is “to promote
the cause of true religion in the parish and to assist the Churchwardens in the
discharge of their duties in maintaining order and decency in the church and
churchyard, especially in the time of divine service”.
In practice, Sidespeople chiefly help the Churchwardens before, during and after
worship by welcoming people as they enter the church, giving out hymn and service
books, taking the collection, counting the collection and tidying up and putting
everything back in its place after the service. They should keep a particular look out
for new people and visitors can make sure they know their way around the church,
understand the form of the service and introduce them to a few regular members of
There is a rota and sides people typically operate for one and the same service
People volunteer for this role and the list of sidespeople has to be approved
annually elected at the Annual Parochial Meeting, or in between APMs by the PCC.
Sidespeople must be on the Electoral Roll, and to be on the Roll you have to be over
16 and baptised (though not necessarily confirmed).
Children and many young people may share in some duties such as giving out books
and taking up the Collection provided they are overseen by an appointed
sidesperson. This is a good way of encouraging children, young people or whole
families to take an active part in helping with the service.
We would very much welcome new offers to help in this way. If you would like to
offer your services as a sides person or would like to know more about the role
please contact the Sidesperson’s leader John Gearing (742 007)