The Role of the Bishop in the Anglican Church

If we see the diocese as having two parallel structures—parish and synod—the bishop stands at the head of both of them.

With respect to the parish structure, the bishop is the chief pastor. In this capacity, the bishop consults with parishes and licenses the clergy to their charges. The bishop regularly visits each parish in the diocese, and when present presides and preaches at the Eucharist. The parish prays for the bishop as the symbol of unity between itself and all the other parishes of the diocese, and the wider Anglican Communion.

Bishops are the links that establish communions. The bishops of the Anglican Church of Canada meet three times a year, in a meeting called The House of Bishops. As well, they meet and vote as a house at General Synod every three years. By being in communion with the archbishop of Canterbury, our bishop is in communion with every other Anglican bishop.

The bishop has a direct relationship with every priest canonically resident in the diocese. The bishop may ordain clergy, and all licensed clergy make oaths of obedience to the bishop. The bishop, in licensing the clergy, devolves his or her authority upon them. The bishop also has the power to revoke it with just cause. 

The service for the ordination of a bishop in the BAS (Book of Alternative Services) states that a bishop is “called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the church.” 

Within the synodical structure, our bishop is the chair of both the sessions of Synod and the diocesan council. Synod elects the successor to the bishop, at special sessions of synod.