Parish

For long thought to be the glory of the Church of England, the parish system still has many advantages.   The whole country is covered by a system of individual parishes, each a defined geographical area, so that every member of the population lives in a parish and has, as a consequence, the right to be married in the parish church and to be ministered to by the incumbent of the parish.   Conversely, the incumbent has the duty of ministering to the population of the parish.   This made excellent sense when parishes were more or less self-contained, in the sense that the population lived, worked, made their recreation, were born, married and died within the same community.   Even in the larger towns this made sense, but as a meaningful concept it began to show signs of strain during and after the Industrial Revolution.   Nevertheless, the idea that every member of the population has a Church of England ordained man or woman responsible, at least in theory, for their spiritual welfare is a noble one and not lightly to be abandoned.   The changed social structure allied to the shortage of ordained clergy has led to a number of initiatives intended to modify the simple parochial system in a manner intended to be helpful.   (See Teams and groups; plurality; presentation, suspension of; Pastoral committees)

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