Nearly 30,000 churchwardens serve the parish churches of the Church of England and the Church in Wales. Each church usually has two churchwardens who are elected annually and serve for up to six years, or longer by agreement.

Churchwardens are responsible for the fabric of the church. They ensure that the church and churchyard are kept in good repair and properly maintained. They also manage the day-to-day running of the church, making sure it is warm and properly prepared for services and that it is open for visitors. In these tasks they call on the assistance of sidesmen and other members of the Parochial Church Council (PCC). Churchwardens automatically serve on the PCC.

During a period of interregnum (awaiting the appointment of a new priest), churchwardens may be required to organise church services and pastoral care within the parish.