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I beleive the parish represents primarily a political or secular system of land division which has been adopted by churches. In Britain the parish was a subdivision of the traditional county until local government was reorganised in 1975. The boundaries of a secular parish may not be now those of any church parish, and churches of different denominations may have different parish boundaries. Laurel Bush 15:23, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC).

But in England, weren't the pre-1975 parishes equivalent to Church of England parishes? john k 15:34, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I imagine the C of E tended to follow secular practice. Or, as the established church, was well placed to negotiate agreement with secular government. My main point is that the parish system of land division had (and has now in some respects) a very secular dimension, and this tends, at present, to be obscured by the article. (I believe in England, actually, parishes survive in many areas for the purpose of electing parish councils.) Laurel Bush 15:47, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC).

Parishes have had secular meaning, but I think you're putting the cart before the horse. In pre-modern days, the most reasonable way to divide up a large unit like a county was based on church parishes, since everyone belonged to one. So they came to be used as a political division because they were already religious divisions. The OED entry on "Parish" supports this, I think. john k 17:13, 6 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Havent seen the OED entry, but I believe the idea of a parish is Latin, predates any established church, and was in use before the Roman Empire adopted Christianity as its religion. Laurel Bush 09:58, 7 Apr 2005 (UTC).

I think it is important for you both to read this article which makes it clear that, prior to 1894, the parish meeting (or vestry as it was called) was the church government for each ecclesiastical (and ancient) parish. The article points out that the vicar was always chairman, and that only the squire and ratepayers (ie the well-off) appeared on it. In 1894 this changed; although it was still skewed in that direction. In 1972 the present system came into being. I think that this Wiki article needs considerable amendments to supply the facts given in the reference. Peter Shearan 19:13, 31 December 2005 (UTC)

Structural issues[edit]

The civil parish section of this article is paralleling Civil Parish and a wider main article. In addition there is the question of the relationship between parish and Township, which is not adequately explained by that article. There are two difficulties:

    1. The worldwide coverage of some of these articles.
    2. The need to focus on the institution in England (and other parts of Great Britain), whiere the parish remains an active minor local government institution.

Both these are important, but we need to consider how best the articles may be structured, to avoid parallel articels developing separately, each with an independent life of its own. This is liable to lead to contradictory articles! Comments please. Peterkingiron 14:21, 18 March 2007 (UTC)

Little seems to have been done since I made the above comment, but some one has drawn my attention to it, on the basis that the article began life as "Ecclesisatical Parish". We also have Parish (country subdivision), which provies a good survey of the different applications of the term around the world. I wonder whether the best course might not be for:
  • This article to revert to "ecclesiatiscal parish", but shorn of civil sections
  • Parish (country subdivision) to be renamed "parish", possibly with the civil sections of this article being merged in if necessary.
  • Civil Parish to be shorn of international aspects and confined to England (or perhaps Great Britain).

Comments please. Peterkingiron (talk) 00:32, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree. I have added appropriate templates. Each of the three articles should be on distinct topics. Ad.minster (talk) 15:58, 24 September 2008 (UTC)

Rights of parishes (and dioceses)[edit]

The article could perhaps a add a section on the rights and privileges of parishes with regards to the diocesan community, and/or the relationship of dioceses with the Universal Church. For instance, every time there is some kind of liturgical reform, some parishes resist or refuse to follow the reform either by claiming that the parish has this right or that the community within the parish has the equivalent right. These claims have always been quite a challenge to Church organization and canon law, and so they would deserve to be further discussed. ADM (talk) 14:20, 17 March 2009 (UTC)

This will depend on the legislation of each national denomination. This is likely to differ between the the Catholic Church after the counter-reformation and Protestant churches, and between one Protestant denomination and another. Peterkingiron (talk) 11:06, 15 November 2010 (UTC)

What is the (Modern) Greek word for parish?[edit]

Just asking. --Daniel Blanchette 02:25, 1 June 2010 (UTC)

Eνορία (enoria). A Macedonian, a Greek. (talk) 15:03, 22 March 2011 (UTC)


The first two paragraphs in the Methodism section are constructed as if they present contrasting practices, yet they seem to say the same thing:

In the United States, in some United Methodist Churches the congregation is called a parish. The United Methodist Bishop of the Episcopal Area appoints a minister to each parish.

Other US Methodist churches such as the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Christian Methodist Episcopal Church have a Bishop residing over an Episcopal Area who appoints ministers to different parishes.

A history search shows that these originally were in two separate sections, and when it was in its own section (on the African Methodist Episcopal Church) the paragraph began, "Like the United Methodist Church, the African Methodist Episcopal Church has a Bishop [...]." The sense that the second paragraph presents a contrasting practice appeared as an artifact of the combination of the two sections, so I am going to combine the two paragraphs into one.--Jim10701 (talk) 19:55, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

--aslo, the "circuit" came to largely replace, or supplement, the parish and diocesan structure in importance in early British and American Methodism.

Continental Protestantism[edit]

This article needs a section on continental and Scandinavian protestant churches. In much of Reformation Europe, as in England, the parish retained something of its pre-reformation status as geographically designated ecclesiastical unit: in Germany a Pfarr- or Kirchengemeind (different designations and different relationships to the territorial Landeskirche across Germany). And in Calvinist Geneva and the Netherlands the new system of church discipline was superimposed on the old parochial grid to a large degree. The status of the parish varied across Protestant Europe (i.e. it's relation to supra-parochial ecclesiastical authority, its civil-administrative significance etc) and changed over time as well. But it may be worth looking into the details in order to complete this page. I'll add info when I find it. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:21, 22 March 2012 (UTC)

Yes, it would be great if you could contribute this information. Amandajm (talk) 01:33, 24 March 2012 (UTC)


I was looking for the definition of "parish" as used in the 17th century Church of England. Then I see such phrases "so it shares its roots with the Roman Catholic system described above" and "each parish should have its own parish priest" and "perhaps supported by one or more curates or deacons". C'mon, who wrote this? I call it a cop-out i.e. the author had no idea what he was writing about. Let's jettison this uninformative article and get someone who can write about "parish" clearheadedly and concisely. Dangnad (talk) 02:43, 26 April 2014 (UTC)

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What I wanted to see in a write-up about "parish"[edit]

I originally came here to learn a bit more about parish vs town in 17th-18th century Massachusetts Bay Colony (See my post above "Rewrite"). All I saw was a lot of nonsense. Since then I found exactly what I wanted. The following is an excerpt from Quabbin, The Story of a Small Town by Francis Underwood, 1893.

A “town” in Massachusetts is a small republic, or a corporation erected by statute in certain fixed limits, and exercising powers established and defined by a general law… “Township” is not a native term, and, so far as it has any meaning in Massachusetts, refers to the territory of a town. The town…maintains within its boundaries roads, bridges, and schools, and supports its poor, if there should be any having a legal settlement. Formerly it was obliged to provide for the military drill and equipment of its able-bodied citizens of legal age. Formerly, also, it elected the minister, voted his salary, and raised the amount by taxation, like other town charges; for in early times the town and parish were one (my emphasis). Later, the notion of the town was that of a corporation for civil purposes; and of the parish, a corporation for religious purposes; in many cases both corporations covered the same area. If a town was large and became populous, it might be divided (for religious purposes solely) into two or more parishes. A “church” means such persons as have made a prescribed profession of faith and experience, and have united under a covenant. A church-member, unless non-resident, was necessarily a member of the parish, but the reverse was not necessary.

Furthermore, a "parish" in the State of Louisiana, USA is the equivalent of a county in other US states. As far as I know, there is no religious function for a parish in Louisiana. Dangnad (talk) 02:48, 23 August 2016 (UTC)