Clergy titles and roles

Is my vicar a Vicar? Or a Priest? Or a Rector? Or even a Priest-in-Charge?

In the Church of England, there are 3 orders of ordained ministry:

Deacon – this is usually for the first year of ordination, and is primarily about service in the church. A Deacon can preach and teach, carry out pastoral care, baptise people, take funerals, lead worship, and assist at Holy Communion.

Priest – most of the clergy are Priests. They continue the work of the Deacon, but can also celebrate at Communion, marry people, give blessing and absolution.

Bishop – Bishops carry on the work of Deacons and Priests, but can also ordain new clergy, and confirm those who wish to receive Holy Communion.

In terms of jobs or roles, below is a brief (and by no means comprehensive list) of clergy titles and roles which might just help a bit.  They all use the title Reverend unless shown otherwise.

Chaplain – usually (but not always) a member of clergy. Chaplains carry out their ministry outside the parish system. Examples might be within a school, hospital, industry, armed forces, emergency services, prison, university. If clergy, they usually use the title Reverend.

Curate – someone who is either starting out their ordained ministry, or who has been licensed to assist the Incumbent of the parish in their duties.

Incumbent – this is the general name given to the ordained person who has been placed in charge of a parish or benefice by the Bishop.

NSM (Non-Stipendiary Minister) – an ordained person who assists in a parish, but does not receive a stipend (like a salary) from the church. This is often because they work elsewhere as well. They are sometimes also known as Self-Supporting (SSM) Ministers.

OLM (Ordained Local Minister) – these are similar to NSMs, but are called from a specific local area to exercise ministry in that locality.

Priest-in-Charge – this can either be someone who is in charge of a church where there are more than one in a parish, or someone who is in charge of a parish or group of parishes where the Bishop chooses not to license an incumbent there for pastoral reasons.

Rector – This term has a historical use, but now there really is little difference between a Rector and a Vicar in practical terms. The only real example of difference is in the case of a Team Ministry where parishes are looked after by a team of clergy together. In this case a Team Rector is usually appointed, assisted by Team Vicars.

Vicar – Again, the use of the term Vicar has a historical use, but is generally used for the Priest of a parish or benefice.