The 'Anglican Communion'
Part of the World-Wide Church
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'
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Picture, Bishiops Gathered
The Lambeth Conference
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 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)
The Church of England was the first 'Anglican' Church. It was created in the 16th century when king Henry VIII declared the church in England independent of Papal authority. The head of the C of E is the UK monarch. (Return to top)  

Picture, UK Parliament
UK Parliament
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 to 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
(Legislative Functions)
Provinces of Canterbury & York
Provinces of Canterbury and York
The C of E is divided into two very large regions called a Province, each led by an Archbishop. (Return to top)

Picture, Archbishops of York and Canterbury
The Two Archbishops
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 and Right Honourable John Sentamu 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. (Return to Top)

(Note: There is only one Archbishops' Council, which serves both Archbishops)
Archbishop's Council General Synod*
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'. (Return to top)

Picture, Bishop Rachael
Bishop of Gloucester
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 + ‘Europe’ = 44 in total. (Return to Top)

Bishops' Council Diocesan Synod*
Dioceses may have one or more management and support areas under the leadership of an ‘Arch-deacon’. (Return to top)


of Gloucester
Gloucester Diocese has two archdeaconries, headed by the Archdeacon of Gloucester (Currently waiting for a new appointment) 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)

A group of parishes from a geographic area grouped together under the leadership of an ‘Area Dean’.
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Picture, Deanery Map
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 'Deaney 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. (Return to Top)

Deanery Chapter Deanery Synod*
Parish / Benefice
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. (Return to Top)

Picture, A Parish Church
A Parish Church
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 Legislative Functions