Most parishes in the Diocese of Adelaide operate under a model of governance which is informed by the Anglican belief that God works through all the people of the church, and therefore requires both lay (non-ordained) people and clergy to work closely in mission and ministry. Most churches operate under the Model Trust Ordinance (the basis on which their property is held in Trust by the Synod) which requires that Parishes operate under the rules of the Parochial (Parish) Administration Ordinance (PAO).
The key elements in a Parish are:
- The Vestry, which is a way of describing the group of all members of a parish. The role of the Vestry is described by the PAO as: “… under the leadership of and with the Parish Priest be responsible for the pastoral, educational, evangelistic and missionary work of the parish …” (Section 7)
- The Parish Council which includes the minister, lay members and officers elected by the Vestry, and optionally some members appointed by the minister. The role of the Parish Council is described by the PAO as: “… together with the Parish Priest is responsible for the worship, ministry and mission of the parish under the leadership of the Parish Priest. The Parish Council will work to fund and fulfil these responsibilities …” (Section 29)
- The Wardens, one appointed by the minister (the Priest’s Warden) and one or more elected by the Vestry (the People’s Warden). The role of Warden includes duties inherited from the1662 Book of Common Prayer primarily in ensuring the items required for worship and the sacrament are available (I.e. a building, table, wine, and bread) and for ensuring worship is conducted in a proper manner. The PAO also adds a number of specific roles including: ” … To co-operate with the Parish Priest in the initiation conduct and development of the work of God and the Church within the parish …” (Section 51)
Many aspects of the governance model relate the management of property (both land and buildings, and money) and specifically the control of it by the Trustee (the Synod) and the Beneficiary (the Parish). This relationship, together with the responsibilities of each entity are described and illustrated in this document: Parish Trust Property
Parishes may have different configurations of one or more Vestries, Officers, etc depending on how many congregations or churches comprise a Parish. The different models are described and illustrated in this document: Parish Primer