Wednesday, December 21, 2011


There continue to be arguments that the Episcopal Church is not hierarchical. We have the traditional hierarchy of Holy Orders, but the way the Episcopal Church governs itself isn't much like the most obvious hierarchical church, the Roman Catholic is governed. But there isn't only one way to be hierarchical. While Episcopal parishes and dioceses have a great deal more autonomy than Roman Catholic parishes and dioceses, their autonomy is clearly limited.

Here are a few examples of limitations:
  • The election of Rectors in parishes requires the consent of the Bishop.
  • The election of a Bishop requires the consent of a majority of diocesan Bishops and Standing Committees. 
  • Ordinations of clergy must be approved in accordance with the Canons of The Episcopal Church.
  • The sale of real property by a parish must be approved by the Bishop and Standing Committee of the Diocese.
  • The establishment of new Dioceses requires the approval of the General Convention.
The hierarchy of the Episcopal Church is not so much a hierarchy of clergy as a hierarchy of parish Vestries, Diocesan Conventions, and the General Convention. As in other hierarchical organizations, there are decisions that can be made at every level, but the determination of which decisions can be made at each level is made at the highest level, in this case, the General Convention.

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