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Church Of England Governance Structure

The Church of England is organised as two Provinces; each led by an Archbishop (Canterbury for the Southern Province and York for the Northern). Each province comprises of dioceses of which there are a total of 42 in England.

Cathedral is the mother church of a diocese, lead by a Dean and legally is constituted as a separate charity currently exempt from Charity Commission registration.

Each Diocese is divided into Parishes, being overseen by a Parish Priest (usually called a Vicar, Rector or Incumbent) and who with their Bishop, are responsible for the 'Cure of Souls' in their parish.

A Benefice is a parish or group of parishes served by an Incumbent. A Deanery is a group of parishes over which a Rural Dean has oversight and an Archdeaconry is a group of deaneries for which an Archdeacon is responsible. The Diocese is the principal pastoral, financial and administrative resource of the Church of England, encompassing the various Archdeaconries under the spiritual leadership of the Diocesan Bishop.

His Majesty the King is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and appoints Archbishops, Bishops and Deans of Cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister. The two Archbishops and 24 Senior Bishops sit in the House of Lords.

The Church of England is episcopally led by a total of 119 Diocesan and Suffragan Bishops and is governed by the General Synod.

The General Synod is the legislative and deliberative body at national level, making decisions on matters of doctrine, the holding of church services and relations with other churches. It passes measures which, if accepted by Parliament, have the effect of acts of Parliament, consists of three groups (or houses) of members: the House of Bishops, of Clergy and of Laity and meets at least twice annually to consider legislation for the broader good of the Church.

National Church Institutions comprise of the Archbishops' Council, Church Commissioners, Church of England Pensions Board, Provinces of Canterbury & York, Promotion of Religious Education and Central Services.

The Archbishops’ Council, established in 1999 is a charity, set up in law to co-ordinate, promote, aid and further the work and mission of the Church of England by providing national support to the Church in dioceses and locally, working closely with the House of Bishops and other bodies of the Church.

The Church Commissioners support the work and mission of the Church of England today and for future generations, helping it to remain a Christian presence in every community by managing an investment fund in a responsible and ethical way and using the income to contribute towards the cost of mission projects, dioceses in low-income areas, bishops, cathedrals, and pensions.

The Church of England Pensions Board administers the pension scheme, discretionary benefits and retirement housing for clergy as well as pension schemes for lay employees of Church organisations. The Board reports to the General Synod and is trustee of a number of pension funds and charitable funds.

The Diocesan Synod comprises of elected Clergy and Lay representation from across the diocese meeting together with the diocesan Bishops and Archdeacons, and whose role is to:

• Consider matters affecting the Church of England in the Diocese
• Act as a forum for debate of Christian opinion on matters of religious or public interest
• Advise the Bishop where requested
• Deal with matters referred by General Synod
• Consider, through the Bishop's Council, the strategic budget for the Diocese

The Deanery Synod has two houses, Laity and Clergy, whose roles are to:

• Respond to requests from General Synod
• Give effect to the decisions made by the Diocesan Synod
• Consider matters affecting the CofE by drawing together the views of the parishes
• Communicate the views of parishes to Diocesan Synod and thence to General Synod
• Raise with Diocesan Synod such matters as it considers appropriate
• Elect a lay member to the Diocesan Board of Finance.

The Bishop's Council is the standing committee of the Diocesan Synod. The Council plans the business of Diocesan Synod and the Diocesan Bishop may refer matters to the Council for their advice. It also steers policy and has responsibility for the growth of the Church's work in the Diocese.

The Board of Finance is the legal and financial body of the diocese with lay and clergy representatives serving as Trustees of the Board and Directors of the charitable company.

The Parochial Church Council (PCC) is the elected governing body of an individual parish which is the smallest pastoral area in the Church of England. The PCC is made up of the Incumbent as chair, the churchwardens and a number of elected and ex officio members. Each PCC is constituted as an independant charity.

The Diocesan Advisory Committee (DAC) is a statutory committee of the diocese which considers applications by churches for work to be carried under the Faculty Jurisdiction. The committee consists of the Archdeacons and appoints people with expertise from a number of professions, including architects, surveyors, organists, technical specialists etc. Its primary role is to advise the Chancellor of the Diocese on the merits of the applications and engages with parishes to ensure all issues have been considered.

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