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by Michael Ford last modified 06 Oct, 2017 10:20 AM

Sometimes we unintentionally use jargon. Here's a list of likely terms. Click a purple letter to jump to an A-Z section, or a purple phrase for more info.

Wondering how to address the clergy? Official CofE guidance here





The right to appoint a priest to [fill] a benefice by presentation or collation. The owner of an advowson is called the patron.


An office held by a senior clergyman appointed by the bishop with an administrative responsibility over an archdeaconry. Some of his duties are laid down by law but in other respects his duties vary according to diocesan practice: they include care for church property.
Archdeacons page here


Sub-division of the diocese over which an archdeacon has administrative responsibility.

Area Bishop

A bishop who shares spiritual oversight with the diocesan bishop over a particular area.
Click here for the Bishop of Ramsbury and here for the Bishop of Sherborne



An ecclesiastical office carrying certain duties. An incumbent's benefice is therefore not a geographical area (see parish) but the office to which (s)he is appointed and may comprise one or more parishes. A benefice may be a rectory or vicarage from which the incumbent is called rector or vicar.
Click here to search our parishes


Canon Law

Canon law forms part of the law of the Church of England. The Canons are, in essence, 'by-laws' for the guidance of the church.


The chief lay officers of a parish elected annually by parishioners with the consent of the incumbent. The number and qualifications of and the time and manner of choosing churchwardens are regulated by the Churchwardens Measure 2001. There are normally two churchwardens of every parish. They have various statutory duties. They have the right to make representations on a proposed glebe sale when the benefice is vacant. They are frequently appointed as sequestrators during vacancies of benefices.
Click here for the Churchwardens page


The act of both presenting a priest to a benefice and of instituting him or her to that benefice when the bishop is patron.
Click here for our latest appointments

Cure of Souls

'Cure' means 'care'. The bishop has the universal cure of souls in a diocese but, subject to this, the incumbent of a benefice (or team rector and team vicar(s) in a team ministry) has the exclusive cure of souls within his or her parish or parishes. The expression should not be confused with the more general phrase 'pastoral care'.



A sub-division of an archdeaconry usually comprising between 10 and 20 parishes.
Click here for our Deaneries page

Deanery Synod

A body of clergy and laity elected or appointed by the PCCs in a deanery.
Click here for our Deanery Synod page

Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC)

Statutory Committee established by the Faculty Jurisdiction Measure to advise on matters affecting church buildings and churchyards.
Click here for the DAC

Diocesan Board of Finance (DBF)

A company constituted by the diocesan synod and regulated by the Companies Acts. A board of finance holds property for Church of England purposes, transacts business in that connection and acts as a committee of the diocesan synod. It normally also acts as the diocesan trust.
Click here for the Accounts Dept and here for our Finance section

Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee (DMPC)

Statutory Committee established by the Pastoral Measure. Its duty is to review the arrangement for pastoral supervision in the diocese and, as appropriate, to make recommendations to the bishop.



Official permission of the chancellor of a diocese (or an archdeacon) to make any changes to a consecrated building or land. Any such changes, e.g. structural works, must not alter the sacred nature of the building or land. A faculty is also required to authorise works to most unconsecrated places of worship and rights of way over a churchyard or church site - e.g. to provide access to the parsonage house.
Click here for our Faculty pages 


An incumbent appointed before 1976 has, subject to certain conditions, the tenure of his benefice for life, even if the benefice to which he was originally appointed is subsequently affected by a pastoral scheme or order. Post 1976 appointees may only continue up to the age of 70. Certain other ecclesiastical office holders own a freehold.


Group Council

Where a group ministry is established the parochial church councils of the individual parishes can form a group council to act in the area as a whole in such matters as the individual PCCs together decide.

Group Ministry

An arrangement, authorised by the Pastoral Measure, whereby the clergy of two or more separate benefices can assist each other to make the best possible provision for the cure of souls in the area as a whole.



The freehold owner of a benefice - can be either a rector or a vicar - with responsibility for the cure of souls. May be assisted by curate, deacon, licensed lay worker, retired priest etc.
Click here to find a priest 

Incumbent Designate

A priest who has been presented to a benefice by the patron but not yet instituted and inducted. Such a person does not enjoy the legal rights of an incumbent. Alternatively a priest on the point of presentation and often named in a pastoral scheme.


Local Ecumenical Partnership

A scheme under which Churches of more than one denomination agree, in relation to an area or institution specified in the scheme, to co-operate in accordance with the provisions of the scheme in matters affecting the ministry, congregational life or buildings of the Churches which are participating in the scheme.


Parsonage House

The official place of residence of an incumbent of a benefice. The house belongs to the incumbent in right of his or her office.
Click here for the Clergy Housing page [Property Dept] 


The person or body owning an advowson (i.e. right to present a priest to a benefice) who may be a private individual or a corporation (ecclesiastical or lay).


Another word for advowson.


The act, by a registered patron, of presenting a priest to fill a benefice.

Priest in Charge

A priest given charge of a parish by licence of the bishop. (S)he has not been presented and therefore does not own the freehold of the benefice.
Click here to find a priest 



The incumbent of a rectory.
Click here to find a priest 


Historically a benefice where the whole of the tithe and glebe land were available for the maintenance of the minister. Rectories have also been created by statute e.g. a benefice where a team ministry is established. Also the house where a rector lives.

Resolution A

A resolution passed by a PCC preventing a woman ordained as a priest from exercising certain priestly functions in the parish concerned. [for further explanation please contact the Archdeacon]

Resolution B

A resolution passed by a PCC preventing a woman ordained as a priest from holding the office of incumbent, priest in charge or team vicar in the benefice. [for further explanation please contact the Archdeacon]

"Resolution C"

A petition made to the bishop by a PCC for special arrangements for episcopal duties under the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993.

Rural Dean

The incumbent or priest-in-charge of one of the benefices in a deanery who acts as chairman of the clergy in the deanery and as a channel of communication between diocesan administration and parishes. His or her duties are not closely defined by statute and will vary from diocese to diocese. (S)he is however ex-officio a sequestrator of a vacant benefice.
Click here to search by Deanery  



The person(s) responsible for administering the income of a benefice in sequestration. The churchwardens of every parish in the benefice and the rural dean act as sequestrators together with a person appointed by the bishop if he so desires (s.1(1) of the Church of England (Miscellaneous Provisions) Measure 1992).

Suspension of Presentation

A priest is 'presented' to the bishop as a candidate for a living by the patron. However, the bishop can initiate a period of suspension with the consent of the diocesan pastoral committee and after local consultation. During such a period of suspension no-one may be presented to the living without the consent of the bishop and the diocesan pastoral committee. Such periods of suspension may not exceed five years but are capable of renewal for further periods of five years.


Team Council

Where a team ministry is established a team council can be established, either under the authority of a scheme or under the Church Representation Rules. Such a council is similar to a joint parochial church council and provides a formal structure for all the parishes in the team to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Team Ministry

A special form of ministry whereby a team of clergy and possibly lay people share the pastoral care of the area of a benefice. Can only be established by a pastoral scheme.

Team Rector

The priest in a team ministry who heads the team and owns the property of the benefice. (S)he shares the cure of souls with the team vicars.
Click here to find a priest 

Team Vicar

A priest of incumbent status in a team ministry, other than the team rector. (S)he shares the cure of souls with the team rector and other team vicars.
Click here to find a priest 



The incumbent of any benefice that is not a rectory.
Click here to find a priest 

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