Priest in charge

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A priest in charge or priest-in-charge is a priest in charge of a parish who does not receive the temporalities of the parish. He or she is not legally responsible for the churches and glebe, simply holds a licence rather than freehold and is not appointed by advowson.

The appointment of priests in charge rather than incumbents (one who does receive the temporalities) is sometimes done when parish reorganisation is taking place or to give the bishop greater control over the deployment of clergy.

Legally, priests in charge are temporary curates, as they have only spiritual responsibilities. Even though they lead the ministry in their parishes, their legal status is little different from assistant curates. However, the term priest in charge has come to be used because the term curate often refers to an assistant curate, who is not in charge of a parish. The stipend of a priest in charge is often the equivalent to that of an incumbent, and so they are sometimes referred to as having incumbent status.

Incumbents include vicars and rectors.

In the Church of Ireland, priests in charge are referred to as bishop's curates.

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Church Terminology