Incumbent (ecclesiastical)

Incumbent (Ecclesiastical)

Incumbent (ecclesiastical)

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In Anglican canon law, the incumbent of a benefice, usually the parish priest, holds the temporalities or assets and income.

Depending on the terms of governance of each parish an incumbent might be either:
  • a vicar appointed by the bishop of the diocese or
  • a rector appointed by a patron with the consent of the bishop

A bishop holding an advowson may also appoint a rector. In addition a bishop may, after a stipulated delay, fill a vacancy if a patron has omitted to do so.

At one time an incumbent rector might choose to enjoy the assets and receive all the tithes of a parish yet appoint a curate to discharge all the spiritual duties of the office at a lesser salary.

The temporalities

The incumbent has legal possession of the church and glebe for the term of his office, but shares with the churchwardens the responsibility for them.

A parish priest who does not receive the temporalities and would then not be the incumbent would be a priest in charge or bishop's curate.

Institution and induction

In the Church of England, an incumbent is admitted to office by institution and induction as provided in Canons C10 and C11. The bishop reads the sealed document of institution, committing the care or 'cure' of souls to the priest who kneels before the bishop and holds the seal; the bishop then instructs the archdeacon to perform the induction, which is done by placing the hand of the priest on the key or ring of the door and reciting a formula of words. The priest advertises his...
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