What is the Difference Between a Mission and a Parish?

A mission is a worshipping community that is to some extent financially dependent on the diocese. Technically, the diocesan bishop is the rector of a mission. The bishop then appoints a priest in charge to provide worship and spiritual formation for the members of the community and to lead the mission in its day-to-day operation. That priest is called the vicar. The group that makes the decisions about the operation of the mission is called the Bishop’s Committee. It is composed of lay members who regularly attend the worship services at the mission. It functions in a similar way to the vestry in a parish. However, its financial records, budget, meeting minutes, etc. must be sent to the Bishop’s office for approval. A mission may become a parish when it is financially independent and is approved by the Bishop and a vote of diocesan convention.

A parish, on the other hand, is financially self-sustaining. The governing body of the parish is the vestry. It too is comprised of lay members who regularly attend worship services at the parish. The vestry makes its own decisions about budget and finances, and with the help of a diocesan liaison, chooses its priest. That priest is called the rector. Their choice must be approved by the Bishop. The rector is the one who hires any associates who work for the parish.


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