The Church in Wales is made up of over 900 parishes. If you live in Wales, you will live in a parish. Each parish covers a specific geographic area and is looked after by a cleric assigned to it. Parishes usually include one or more church buildings. You can search for your local church from your postcode here, or to find the cleric for your church here. In living in a parish, you are entitled to be married or buried in that parish.
A cleric may be put in charge of one parish, or of several. A benefice is the description given to the area over which a cleric has responsibility.
Every benefice is part of a Deanery, which is a grouping of several benefices. Deanery activities are co-ordinated by an Area Dean (sometimes also called ‘Rural Dean’, but not to be confused with a Cathedral Dean), who also has responsibility for any vacant benefices within the Deanery. The post of Area Dean is usually taken by one of the senior clerics within the Deanery.
Dioceses, Archdeaconries and Archdeacons
The Church in Wales is geographically split up into six dioceses, each looked after by a Bishop. Each of these dioceses is subdivided into two or three archdeaconries – there are fifteen archdeaconries in Wales, as shown on the map. There is an Archdeacon appointed to each, and they are responsible to the Bishop for the administration of the Archdeaconry. Each Archdeaconry is further divided into Deaneries.
Each of Wales’ six dioceses has a Cathedral, which serves as the mother church of the diocese. It is also the church where the Bishop has his ‘cathedra’ or seat. Important events, such as the Installation of a new Bishop, will take place in the Cathedral. Each Cathedral has a Cathedral Dean appointed to run the Cathedral, along with the Chapter. Along with the Archdeacons, the Cathedral Dean is one of the most senior clerics in the diocese after the Bishop.
Each Cathedral in Wales is managed by a chapter, made up of the Dean and a number of Canons, who are chosen from amongst the clergy serving in the diocese.
We use the phrase ‘cleric’ on this website to signify someone who has been ordained in the Anglican Church and serves in the Church in Wales.
Traditionally, those called by the church to priesthood spend twelve months serving as a deacon before being ordained priest. There are others who are called to a distinctive ministry as deacons.
When you search for a cleric, you will be able to see the dates of their ordination as deacon and, if relevant, as priest. Whilst these are the dates at which a cleric starts their ministry as deacon or priest after their training, they may well have been involved with the church in different roles prior to these dates.
A ‘Curate’ is the name given to a cleric appointed to assist another cleric – a role traditionally taken in the early stages of their ministry.
A Vicar or Rector is a cleric in charge of a parish.