This page is meant to provide an overview of how we are organized and governed.
First of all, the Episcopal Church is part of a larger body called THE ANGLICAN COMMUNION... which is a fellowship of nearly 40 national autonomous churches which find their origins in the Church of
England. The Archbishop of Canterbury England is the figurative head of this organization, but each national church rules itself and makes its own policies and procedures. (For example, some ordain women but other Anglican Churches in this fellowship choose not to.)
The Episcopal Church In the United States of America, (ECUSA)...(one of the forty) is structured on a national level much like our National Government. (Coming into existence at about the same time.)
Every three years, Episcopal Delegates from across the nation gather in something called GENERAL CONVENTION. This is our National governing body and is composed much like congress with two "houses"... House of Bishops is made up of all Bishops (and is akin to the Senate)...
... Then the House of Deputies is made up of both Clergy and Lay People elected from back home, the number of which is based on population (much like the House of Representatives).
The Presiding Bishop is elected for a 9 year term from the House of Bishops and presides at General Convention which meets triennially to establish the canons and policy of the Episcopal Church in America.
On a LOCAL LEVEL...
... A Diocese is a geographical grouping of local congregations (sometimes an entire state, but as the church has grown most states are broken up into several diocese).
... Each Diocese elects a Diocesan Bishop from among all priests and the Diocesan Bishop is the overseer of that diocese. (The word "episcopas" in Greek simply means "overseer" or bishop).
... Each congregation in the diocese, in consultation with their bishop, calls a Rector from among the Priests to assist the bishop in its spiritual oversight.
... The Rector is in charge of all things "spiritual" in a parish... (to use a term from the canons) and the Vestry is in charge of all things "temporal" (or secular... like money and finances and building upkeep).
... The congregation gathers each year at their Annual Parish Meeting to elect members of the vestry who serve a three-year staggered term. The Vestry is composed of from 3 to 30 members. Trinity uses a Vestry composed of 12. The Vestry leadership is held by the Senior Warden and Junior Warden.
... The Rector and Vestry work TOGETHER in the spread of the Kingdom and there is much overlap in their different responsibilities.
... Each Rector may be assisted by other priests or laypersons who make up his/her staff. Presently Trinity is blessed with a full time secretary, a part time Sexton (janitor), Organist, Choir Director, Lay Ministry Coordinator, Children's Sunday School Superintendent, Children's Chapel and Special Events Coordinator, a Bookkeeper, and a Youth Director. In the past we have also had assisting Clergy. (Go the "Contact Us" page to see staff members.)
More information can be found at the following websites (click on them to follow the links):
The Episcopal Diocese of Alabama
The Episcopal Church