An Episcopal Priest's Duties

by Melissa Albright
Priests undergo a rigorous educational training in order to be ordained.

Priests undergo a rigorous educational training in order to be ordained.

The role of the clergy within a church can only be filled by a person who is well-spoken, a strong leader, capable of administrative oversight and an effective educator. As part of their duties, Episcopal priests perform baptisms, marriages, teach confirmation classes and record all ceremonial happenings in the permanent records of the church. To become ordained as an Episcopal priest, you must attend seminary and be sponsored by a parish to be accepted into school. (see reference #2)

Sermon Preparation and Delivery

Sermons are part of every Episcopal service.

Although non-clergy will sometimes deliver a sermon during mass, it is often the priest of the congregation that is responsible for preparing and preaching a sermon each week. Busy priests may rely on the Episcopal online publication "Sermons that Work," an established resource for weekly sermons. Priests who have the time and writing ability will write their own sermons, trying to tie in current events with teachings from the "Book of Common Prayer."

Parishioner Education

Adults confirmed in the Catholic Church are considered confirmed Episcopalians.

The parish priest is responsible for making sure that parents and godparents are aware of the responsibilities that come with baptizing a child and how to carry out these responsibilities. Further, the priest oversees the education of children and adults within the parish who are seeking confirmation into the church. Often the priest will teach a foundations class to adults within the parish that will provide an education that allows all attendees to be confirmed into the Episcopal faith.

Paperwork

Church records are documented by the parish priest.

The priest is responsible for keeping track of all happenings within the church and recording them as part of the permanent record. The priest must also keep a parish record of all families and communicants that attend, whether active or inactive. All records must be made available to the bishop upon request. A list of all those seeking confirmation must also be provided to the bishop.

Special Services

Marriage is a sacrament in the Episcopal Church.

The priest of the Episcopal Church oversees all weddings, funerals, baptisms, ordinations and confirmations within the parish. There are specific services for each of these sacraments that can be found in the "Book of Common Prayer." This book is a primary resource for Episcopal Church worship and it was last changed in 1789. The "Book of Common Prayer" contains daily readings, psalms, hymns and historical information regarding the beginnings of the church.

Vestry Role

The priest relies on the vestry to take care of church business.

The church vestry is the governing body of each parish. Responsible for new parishioner recruitment, community outreach, fiscal oversight and physical property management, the vestry is made up of volunteer parishioners. The priest of the church is the leader of the vestry and is responsible for the oversight of all vestry duties. Although the priest does not vote in any proceedings, when there is a tie, the priest will cast the final vote.

About the Author

Melissa Albright has been a writer since graduating from college with a BA in English in 1994. She has contributed to several online publications and has written many reports for the Juvenile Courts in Massachusetts, taking complex information and summarizing it for all parties.

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