Archdeaconries and Archdeacons

How We are Structured

The Diocese and Archdeaconries

The Diocese is divided into two Archdeaconries each headed by an archdeacon with a number of smaller deanery units within them.

Archdeaconries are the principal sub-division of dioceses for administrative and judicial purposes and date from the twelfth century.

Archdeacons, as the senior Bishop's officers, have responsibility for the care of the clergy and church communities within their Archdeaconry.

Duties include:

  • The induction of churchwardens.
  • Legal powers to give permission via the Church's own Planning Permission system (Faculty Jurisdiction), for work on the repair and ordering of church buildings.
  • Responsibility for the checking of parish records and church valuables.
  • In the Ely diocese, the responsibility for the practical and legal issues relating to the appointment of clergy.
  • Working with others in pastoral re-organisation, clergy housing and occasionally with disciplinary matters.

The Archdeacon of Cambridge cares for most of south and east Cambridgeshire.

The Archdeacon of Huntingdon and Wisbech looks after the whole of Huntingdonshire, southern Peterborough, north east Cambridgeshire and west Norfolk.

Much of the planning for the local Church's life and mission is carried out at parish and deanery levels.

Dioceses Commission

A new Dioceses Commission was set up in 2008. It has a primary duty to keep under review the provincial and diocesan structure of the Church of England, in particular:

  • the size, boundaries and number of provinces;
  • the size, boundaries and number of dioceses and their distribution between the provinces;
  • the number and distribution of bishops and the arrangements for episcopal oversight.

In January 2010 it published the final report on the Peterborough-Ely boundary.

Deaneries and Parishes

What is a Deanery?

A deanery is a formally linked cluster of parishes within a particular area of a diocese.

Parishes seek to work together on common aspects of parish ministry and church life in general, including finance.

Each deanery is led by a rural dean and lay chair. The deanery has the role of fostering mutual support between its parishes, joint planning of key elements of pastoral life and mission, and sharing of resources.

In leading the implementation of the Church's mission, the rural dean provides a link with the archdeacon. There are 14 deaneries in the Diocese of Ely.

What is a Parish?

A parish is a defined area of a local community within the diocese comprising all those who live within it, whether or not they are religious. Most parishes are formed on a geographical basis.

The word 'parish' is used both in this sense and in the sense of those who see themselves as belonging to the local church.

A parish has its own church building or buildings and is under the authority of a Rector, Vicar or Priest-in-Charge. Such priests are responsible for anyone who lives within the parish. It is their duty to provide the congregation with Sunday services, occasional services (such as marriages and funerals) and pastoral care. There are over 300 parishes in the Diocese of Ely.

More details about individual parishes are available on their own websites. Many of our churches are also registering their parish information on the A Church Near You website.

This searchable database lists Anglican churches by diocese and by county enabling the user to find a local church simply by entering a postcode, town or church name. The information includes service times and location details as well as links to individual church websites.

What is a Benefice?

Historically this is the living itself - an ecclesiastical office held by a priest (the incumbent) for which a stipend is paid. Used now, benefice defines one or more parishes served by an incumbent.

What is a Local Ecumenical Project?

A Local Ecumenical Project is a community of Christians, which may have its own church premises and is usually formed on a geographical basis.

Its ministerial team consists of clergy from other denominations as well as the Church of England. Some parishes have been re-organised to work on this basis.