The 'Anglican Communion'
Part of the World-Wide Church
Picture. Bishops in Conference
Bishops at the
Lambeth Conference
The Anglican Communion is an international association of national 'Anglican' Churches sharing mutual agreement on essential doctrine (teaching). Each has its own 'Primate' or head known as an 'Archbishop'
There isn't a single organisation or central authority. Each Anglican church around the world is fully independent but each accepts the first Anglican church (that is, The Church of England) as the ‘Mother Church'. Each recognises the ministry and membership of the others and is expected to mutually comply with the essential doctrines as recognised by the Anglican Communion as a group. (Return to top)

The head bishop of each, known as the 'Primate', and all its other bishops come together every 10 years in the ‘Lambeth Conference’ for mutual support and discussion, which may include discussing the essential doctrines. The Conference is called and hosted by the primate of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglican Church is the world's 3rd largest Christian church after the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. (Return to top)

Lambeth Conference
(Advice & Support)
The Church of England (C of E)
Picture, House of Commons
UK Parliament
The Church of England was the first 'Anglican' Church. It was created in the 16th century when the British king Henry VIII declared the church in England independent of Papal authority. The head of the C of E is the UK monarch.
Like the other churches in the Anglican Communion, the C of E tries to keep to the 'catholic' doctrines such as the Creeds (Statements of Belief) that were agreed in the 4th century before the Christian Church split into different factions, but unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the C of E has adopted many of the principals of the Protestant Reformation. The C of E therefore describes itself as ‘Reformed Catholic’ (The word 'catholic' is Latin and just means 'universal'). (Return to top)

The Church of England is the official church of the land (England only) so is termed the ‘Established Church’. Consequently its head is the reigning monarch and many of its rules are debated and agreed by the UK parliament and become part of English law. Major changes, such as the amalgamation of parishes and appointment of senior officers, including some priests and all bishops, have to be approved by the monarch, which is done through the 'Privy Council' a UK committee that advises the monarch on political and religious matters. (Return to top)

Privy Council
(Mainly Advice & Support)
UK Parliament
(Legal Functions)
Provinces of Canterbury & York
Picture, The Two Archbishops
The Two Archbishops
Provinces of Canterbury and York
The C of E is divided into two very large regions called a Province, each led by an Archbishop.
The two Provinces are based around Canterbury in the south and York in the north, led by the Most Rev'd and Right Honourable Justin Welby and the Most Rev'd Christopher Cottrell respectively. (‘Right Honourable’ means the person is a member of the 'Privy Council', the principal group of advisors to the UK Head of State, the Queen). (Return to Top)

The Archbishop of Canterbury is automatically the top bishop or 'Primate' in the Church of England. The Right Rev'd Justin Welby currently holds that post. He was installed in March 2013. Before that the head of the C of E was The Right Rev'd Rowan Williams who reached the age to retire, unlike the head of the Roman Catholic Church
(known as 'The Pope') who usually stays in office until he dies. The Right Reverend Christopher Cottrell was appointed to York in 2020 to replace the previous holder, the Rt Rev John Sentamu who, having g reached the required age, retired. (Return to Top)

(Note: There is only one Archbishops' Council, which serves both Archbishops)

Archbishop's Council General Synod*
Picture, Bishop Rachel
Bishop of Gloucester

Picture, Bishop Robert
Bishop of Tewksbury
The Diocese
is the main body for day to day management. Each diocese is led by a ‘Diocesan Bishop’ who may be assisted by one or more 'Suffragan Bishops'.
Each diocese is led by a ‘Diocesan Bishop’, who may be assisted by one or more assistants called a ‘Suffragan Bishop’ (Suffragan is Latin for 'Assistant'). Suffragans are usually named after an area in their Diocese. The (Diocesan) Bishop of Gloucester is currently the Right Rev'd Rachel Treweek, assisted by the (Suffragan) Bishop of Tewkesbury, the Right Rev'd Robert Springett. There are 43 UK dioceses, plus the 'Diocese of Europe’ = 44 in total. (Return to Top)

Bishops' Council Diocesan Synod*
Picture, Archdeacon HilaryArchdeacon
of Gloucester

Picture, Archdeacon Phil Archdeacon
of Cheltenham
Dioceses may have one or more management and support areas under the leadership of an ‘Archdeacon’.
Gloucester Diocese has two archdeaconries, headed by the Archdeacon of Gloucester (The Venerable Hilary Dawson) and the Archdeacon of Cheltenham (The Venerable Phil Andrew). Deaneries are allocated to one or other archdeaconry according to their geographic location. (Return to Top)

The Archdeacon has powers delegated by the Diocesan Bishop to provide oversight of the parishes, to ensure the parishes are adhering to the various church regulations and that they are properly maintaining their buildings, worship and care of the people in their area. The Archdeacon also acts as ‘personnel manager’ for the priests in their Archdeaconry. (Return to Top)

Picture, Deanery Map
A group of parishes from a geographic area grouped together under the leadership of an ‘Area Dean’.
1. The Deanery is a collection of parishes who share mutual support. It is the centre of support for the parish ministers, both spiritually and personally through the ‘Deanery Chapter’ which comprises all the parish ministers in that Deanery meeting regularly under the chairmanship of the Area Dean (previously called the ‘Rural Dean’). The Whole Deanery is overseen by the 'Deanery Synod', under the care of the Area Dean and a 'Lay Chairperson' (ie: a member of the Deanery congregations and elected by them. The Lay Chair is not an ordained priest).

2. The Deanery provides fellowship and support for its members, offering them any assistance it's in a position to provide, especially if there should be a dispute in or between parishes and during a 'Vacancy' (ie: change of Incumbent). Ideally a Deanery should enable expertise & experience to be shared between its member parishes.

3. Through the deanery's links with, and knowledge of its member parishes, the diocese gains information to enable it to fairly share the costs of the diocesan budget and resources. (Return to Top)

Deanery Chapter Deanery Synod*
Parish / Benefice
Picture, A Parish Church
A Parish Church
Parish / Benefice
The lowest level of the structure is the individual parish. Traditionally this was one church with one priest (known as the 'Incumbent'). More recently, several parishes have been grouped together as a 'Benefice' under one full time (usually paid) Incumbent.
This is the lowest level of the structure. It is managed by the Parochial Church Council (PCC) which comprises the Incumbent (the Vicar or Rector), two Churchwardens and several elected representatives of the congregation. A benefice was usually one local church with its priest (known as the Incumbent or Curate) and possibly one or more newish priests, usually called the ‘Curate’ though technically the ‘Assistant Curate’, who were placed there as part of their training or to assist the Incumbent of a large parish. There may also be one or more (Lay) Readers. More recently, several parishes have been grouped together under one Incumbent, with or without other Assistant Priests or Readers, because of the scarcity and cost of stipendiary (paid) priests to act as Incumbents in each parish. (Return to Top)

Parish or Benefice Team Parochial Church Council (PCC)
* 'Synod' is a Greek term and means 'together way'

The coloured boxes mean:
Advice and Support Legal Functions