There is a distinction between a civil ‘Parish’ and a church Parish. An ecclesiastical/church ‘parish’ may have a similar set of geographical boundaries to a civil one, and the Church will have a Parochial Church Council (PCC), but it is not the same as a ‘Parish Council’, which is a secular elected body handling local planning and amenity issues and operating at the political level.
In our Diocese, parishes (often grouped into multi-parish ‘benefices’) are brought together into 12 ‘deaneries’.
Parish life can vary enormously. The style of worship on offer in different parishes may vary significantly as will provision for different age groups. Parish life has a primary focus on the care of people, but there will be many aspects to that alongside the need to maintain premises – very often heritage properties. Finance and aspects of Anglican polity must be handled with great care, for churches are charitable institutions and their officers are mostly volunteers. Over the years there has grown up an enormous range of legal requirements to service, deadlines to follow and regulations and guidelines to be aware of. One of those areas concerns ‘Safeguarding’ for children and vulnerable adults.
The model will see a change in culture. 59 Mission Areas have been created across the Diocese. These are geographical territories made up of a group of parishes. They will each contain one (or more in many cases) Oversight Ministers; these are ordained (and usually stipendiary) leaders who oversee mission and ministry for these Mission Areas. They provide vision, direction, and leadership for the area. They are tasked with growing a healthy church, to ensure that mission and ministry across the Mission Area reflects the Christian faith as understood in the Church of England. They promote the implementation of the Diocesan strategy and support local leaders or focal ministers.
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