is a territorial unit that was usually
historically served by a local church
This administrative unit is typically found in Roman Catholic
, Anglican Communion
, the Eastern Orthodox Church
Church of Sweden
, United Methodist
, and Presbyterian
churches. It refers to a local,
ecclesiastical community or territory, including its main church building
, perhaps one or more chapels of ease
and other property. The word
"parish" is also used more generally to refer to the collection of
people who attend a particular church. In this usage, a parish
minister is one who serves a congregation.
In some countries a parish
(sometimes called a
") is an administrative
area of civil government. Parishes of this type are found in England, Ireland, the
Man, the Channel
Islands, Louisiana, Estonia, and a
number of island nations in the region of the Caribbean.
Roman Catholic Church
In the Roman Catholic Church, each parish has at least one
, who has
responsibility and canonical authority over the parish (the Latin
for this post is parochus
A parish priest may have one or more fellow priests assisting him.
In Catholic usage this priest is technically a "parochial vicar",
but is commonly called an "associate pastor" or "assistant pastor"
(or just "associate" or "assistant"), a curate
, or vicar
- common as
they are, these terms are inaccurate and many dioceses have
recently begun using the canonical term "parochial vicar" even in
general parish communications (bulletins and the like).
Each diocese (administrative region) is divided into parishes, each
with their own central church called the parish church
, where religious services take
place. Some larger parishes or parishes that have been combined
under one pastor may have two or more such churches, or the parish
may be responsible for chapels
called "chapels of ease") located at some distance from the parish
church for the convenience of distant parishioners.
In the Catholic Church there also exists a special type of
ecclesiastical parish called a national
, which is not territorial in nature. These are usually
created to serve the needs of all of the members of a particular
language group, particularly of an immigrant community, in a large
area: its members are not defined by where they live, but by their
country of origin or native language.
Other variations are also possible. In some Catholic jurisdictions
created for the armed forces, for instance, the entire diocese or
archdiocese is treated as a single parish: all of the Catholics in
the military of the United States and all of their Catholic
dependents, for instance, form the Archdiocese
of the Military Services, USA
, a diocese defined not by
territory but by another quality (in this case, relationship to the
military) - this archdiocese has its own archbishop, and all
records and other matters are handled in a central office rather
than by individual priests assigned to military post chapels or
chaplains of units in the field.
- See also:Team of
priests in solidum
Church of England
system in England is similar
to the Roman Catholic system, described above.
- See also: How the
Church of England is organised and Church of England parish
Many Church of England
parishes that existed at
the beginning of the 19th century owe their existence to the
establishment of a minster
church or to an
estate church founded by Anglo-Saxon
landowners. The parish as a
territorial unit survived the reformation largely untouched.
Consequently, the 19th century parish boundary often corresponds to
that of a much earlier Anglo-Saxon estate.
In the Church of England, part of the Anglican Communion, the
to appoint or
recommend a parish priest
is called an
, and its possessor is known as a
. The patron can be an individual, the Crown
, a bishop
college, a charity
, or a
religious body. Appointment as a parish priest entails the
enjoyment of a benefice
. Appointment of
patrons is now governed by the Patronage (Benefices) Rules 1987. In
times and earlier, when the
church was politically and economically powerful, such a right
could have great importance. An example can be seen in the article on
It was frequently used to promote
particular religious views. For example Robert Rich, 2nd Earl of
presented many puritan
In the 19th century Charles Simeon
established a trust to purchase advowsons and install evangelical
priests. Ownership of an advowson now
carries little personal advantage.
Even before the establishment of civil
, the Church of England parish had become a unit of
local government. For example, parishes were required to operate
the Elizabethan poor
Church of Scotland
Scotland, the parish is basic level of church
The spiritual oversight of each parish
church is responsibility of the congregation's Kirk Session.
Patronage was regulated this way in 1712 (Patronage Act
) and abolished in 1874,
ministers must be elected by members of the congregation. Many
parish churches are now "linked" with neighbouring parish churches
(served by a single minister.) With the abolition of parishes as a
unit of civil government in Scotland, parishes now have a purely
ecclesiastical significance in Scotland (and the boundaries may be
adjusted by the local Presbytery).
The United Methodist Church
In some United Methodist
the congregaton is called a parish. The United
Methodist Bishop of the Episcopal
appoints a minister to each parish.
Other Methodist churches such as the African Methodist Episcopal
and Christian Methodist
have a Bishop
over an Episcopal Area
ministers to different parishes.
- Pounds, N.J.G. (2000) A history of the English parish: the
culture of religion from Augustine to Victoria, Cambridge
University Press, 593 p., ISBN 0-521-63348-6