An Introduction to Parish Life

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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

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Legislation on women bishops becomes law

The General Synod has enacted the measure enabling women to be ordained as Bishops in the Church of England.
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Debbie Thrower installed as an Honorary Canon

Debbie Thrower has been installed as an honorary lay Canon and member of Winchester Cathedral Chapter
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Bishop Tim Dakin's visit to East Africa

The Bishop of Winchester recently returned from an official visit to East Africa in his capacity as the Church of England’s spokesperson on further and higher education.
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New Chair of the House of Clergy appointed

On Saturday 8 November Diocesan Synod appointed a new Chair of the House of Clergy
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Diocese welcomes changes to Reader Ministry

This summer, with the agreement of the Bishop’s Council and in line with other dioceses, we have started to use the term ‘Licensed Lay Minister’ (LLM) rather than ‘Reader’ for all those exercising this important ministry.
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Bishops to mark Remembrance Sunday

Local Bishops will commemorate outbreak of World War One alongside communities in Winchester, Southampton and Basingstoke
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The Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt RIP

We are sorry to announce the death of the former Bishop of Winchester, the Right Reverend Michael Scott-Joynt.
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New Bishop of Basingstoke consecrated

The Reverend Canon David Williams consecrated by the Most Reverend Justin Welby , the Archbishop of Canterbury, at Winchester Cathedral
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New Archdeacon for Mission Development starts work

Rev Canon Dr Paul Moore joins Diocesan team
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Winchester Cathedral's Learning Centre Reopened

HM Lord-Lieutenant Open Winchester Cathedral's Refurbished Learning Centre
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