An Introduction to Parish Life

To find your nearest church and to get in touch with them visit A Church Near You.

What’s a Parish?

A lot happens in the life of a Church of England parish. People are often confused by the distinction between a civil ‘Parish’ and a church one. This confusion (compounded by the ‘Vicar of Dibley’!) needs to be clarified! An ecclesiastical ‘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 13 mainland ‘deaneries’ and a further two covering the Channel Islands.

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 brief of the Church of England has always been to provide Christian ministry to wherever there are people. The national Church is enabled to do that more effectively than any other Christian denomination in the UK because it is sustained by ‘Parish Share’. Always calculated on an individual church basis, the ‘Share’ pays for local clergy and a range of services to facilitate ministry, as well as supporting the Church nationally. Larger parishes effectively subsidise those less able to pay their way.

There are other resources funding Anglican mission, notably contributions by the Church Commissioners whose income from investments provides for Bishops and the upkeep of Cathedrals. No monies come from central government.

Latest News from around the Diocese

Keep up to date with the latest news from around Winchester Diocese, using the links below.

Do you have a story for us? It could not be easier to tell us your news and spread the message across the Diocese. Simply click the button below.

Tell Us Your News!

Odiham resident to cycle over 1000 miles

Steve Brown is raising funds for local church
Read More...

General Synod votes in favour of women bishops

Statement from the Bishop of Winchester
Read More...

Eleven new clergy ordained at Winchester Cathedral

New Deacons will serve communities across Hampshire and Dorset
Read More...

A new Bishop for Basingstoke

Winchester vicar David Williams appointed
Read More...

St Peter's Church, Ropley

Early on Thursday morning there was a serious fire at St Peter's Church in Ropley.
Read More...

Funeral and memorial service for Bishop John Baker

Academy Drum Band Performs at Wolvesey

Academy Drum Band Performs at Wolvesey for the Bishop’s Clergy and Readers Supper
Read More...

Bishop John Austin Baker

It is with deep sorrow that I advise the Right Reverend John Austin Baker died at 6 a.m. this morning, Wednesday 4 June.
Read More...

Thanks from Bishop Peter and Jane Hancock

Bishop and Archdeacon help out at local charity