Glossary of Terms commonly used in Pastoral Reorganisation


An office held by a senior member of clergy appointed by the Bishop with an administrative responsibility over an archdeaconry. Some of their duties are laid down by law but in other respects vary according to diocesan practice: they include care for church property.


Sub-division of the Diocese over which an archdeacon has administrative responsibility.


An ecclesiastical office carrying certain duties. An incumbent's benefice is therefore not a geographical area (see parish) but the office to which the holder is appointed and may comprise one or more parishes. A benefice may be a rectory or vicarage and an incumbent is therefore either rector or vicar.


In the Church of England the diocesan Bishop is the central focus of organisation and ministry within a Diocese. The Bishop is the chief pastor and authority and shares the cure of souls with all the incumbents of that Diocese and is also the chief representative of the Diocese in the work of the wider church. May be assisted by suffragan or assistant Bishops.

Common Tenure

Chapel of Ease

The basis on which all Church of England offices will eventually be held under the Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure 2009. Existing holders of freehold offices may decide not to opt-in to Common Tenure but new office holders will be on Common Tenure.

A consecrated church that it is not a parish church. Originally within a parish that had a parish church, for the ease of parishioners who could not attend the parish church. Chapels of Ease are not subject to as many strict legal requirements as parish churches - they do not have to celebrate the Eucharist every Sunday, for example, or to have Churchwardens.

Church Representation Rules

Schedule 3 to the Synodical Government Measure 1969 but updated as a separate booklet (a link is provided under the Church Representation Rules section of this website). They contain the mechanism for the setting up of representative bodies in the Church of England from parochial church councils to the House of Laity of the General Synod.

Cure of Souls

'Cure' means 'care'. The Bishop has the universal cure of souls in a Diocese but, subject to this, the incumbent of a benefice (or team rector and team vicar(s) in a team ministry) has the exclusive cure of souls within his or her parish or parishes. The expression should not be confused with the more general phrase 'pastoral care'.


A sub-division of an archdeaconry usually comprising between 10 and 20 parishes.

Declaration of closure for regular public worship

The act of closing a church for public worship under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011.

Diocesan Board of Finance

A company constituted by the diocesan synod and regulated by the Companies Acts. A board of finance holds property for Church of England purposes, transacts business in that connection and acts as a committee of the diocesan synod. It normally also acts as the diocesan trust.

Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee

Statutory Committee established by the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011. Its duty is to review the arrangement for pastoral supervision in the Diocese and, as appropriate, to make recommendations to the Bishop.


One of 41 main territorial units of the Church of England over which a Bishop has responsibility. Divided into archdeaconries, deaneries and parishes.

District Church Council

If a parish comprises two or more places of worship or churches then individual councils can be set up for the districts in which each place of worship or church is situated to exercise such functions as may be delegated by the parochial church council.


Land or buildings vested in the Diocesan Board of Finance that either provides a rental income to help pay for stipends and clergy housing or provides housing for those involved in the cure of souls.

Group Council

Where a group ministry is established the parochial church councils of the individual parishes can form a group council to act in the area as a whole in such matters as the individual PCCs together decide.

Group Ministry

An arrangement, authorised by the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 whereby the clergy of two or more separate benefices can assist each other to make the best possible provision for the cure of souls in the area as a whole.


Holder of a benefice (which can be either a freehold or a Common Tenure office) – and can be either a rector or a vicar - with responsibility for the cure of souls. May be assisted by a curate, deacon, licensed lay worker, retired priest etc.

Interested Party

One of the statutory persons or bodies that the Diocesan Mission and Pastoral Committee is required to consult in accordance with s.6/ 21 of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011.

Joint Parochial Church Council

Where a benefice comprises two or more parishes the parochial church councils of the individual parishes can form a joint parochial church council to act in the benefice as a whole in such matters as the individual PCCs together decide.

Leave to Appeal

Any person who makes a representation to the Commissioners against a Pastoral Scheme (but not a Pastoral Order) has a right to apply for leave to appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council against a decision of the Commissioners to proceed notwithstanding that representation.

Members ('Other') of a Team Ministry

May be clerical or lay (see s.34 of Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011). They share the pastoral care of the area with the team rector and team vicars, but NOT the cure of souls.

Mission and Pastoral Committee

A Committee of the Commissioners' Board of Governors which makes decisions on representations on pastoral, houses and glebe matters. It is chaired by the Third Church Estates Commissioner.

Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011

The Measure of the General Synod which authorises changes in pastoral reorganisation. Designed to "make better provision for the cure of souls". Part of the law of the land and equivalent to an Act of Parliament.


The basic geographical unit over which an incumbent has cure of souls. There may be several parishes within the area of one benefice.

Parish Centre of Worship

An unconsecrated Place of Worship designated by the Bishop under s.43 of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 whereupon for most purposes (other than marriage) it is regarded as a parish church.

Parish Church

A consecrated building in a parish in which, subject to canon law, the statutory services must be held. Parishioners have a right to be married, baptised etc. in the parish church. S.41(2) of the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 requires that any building which is to become a parish church must be approved by the Bishop, subject to the Bishop having consulted both the Diocesan Pastoral Committee and the Diocesan Advisory Committee.

Parochial Church Council

Representative body of parishioners elected from those on the electoral roll in accordance with the Church Representation Rules. Usually chaired by the incumbent or priest in charge.

Parsonage House

The official place of residence of an incumbent of a benefice. The house belongs to the incumbent in right of their office.

Pastoral Order

A document which effects changes in pastoral reorganisation made under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011. Differs from a Pastoral Scheme mainly in that it deals with lesser matters.

Pastoral Scheme

A document which effects more complex or significant changes in pastoral reorganisation made under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011.


The person or body owning an advowson (i.e. right to present a priest to a benefice) who may be a private individual or a corporation (ecclesiastical or lay).


The holding of two or more benefices by one incumbent who then has the freehold of all the benefices. This can only be authorised by a scheme or order under the Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011.

Priest in Charge

A priest (who has not been presented by the Patrons and does not become the incumbent) given charge of a benefice to which the right of presentation has been suspended.


The Mission and Pastoral Measure 2011 requires that any draft scheme or order be published and made available to the public. Any person can make written representations to the Commissioners either for or against what is proposed.

Team Council

In a team ministry a team council can be established, either under the authority of a scheme or under the Church Representation Rules. Such a council is similar to a joint parochial church council and provides a formal structure for all the parishes in the team to discuss matters of mutual concern.

Team Ministry

A special form of ministry whereby a team of clergy and possibly lay people share the pastoral care of the area of a benefice. Can only be established by a Pastoral Scheme.

Team Rector

The priest in a team ministry who heads the team and owns the property of the benefice but shares the cure of souls with the team vicars.

Team Vicar

A priest of incumbent status in a team ministry, other than the team rector, who shares the cure of souls with the team rector and other team vicars.