A parish church is the church which acts as the religious centre of a parish, the basic administrative unit of episcopal churches. In many parts of the world, especially in rural areas, the parish church is fundamental to the life of the community.
Combe Martin parish church (St Peter ad Vincula), North Devon, England
The church building reflects this status, and there is considerable variety in the size and style of parish churches. Many villages in Europe have churches that date back to the Middle Ages, but all periods of architecture are represented.
Larger towns and cities, even those with cathedrals, still have parishes and parish churches. However, with the decline in the number of worshippers and the shortage of parish priests, there is a trend towards team ministry and many parish churches no longer have a service every Sunday.
A parish is a subdivision of a diocese or bishopric within the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Church of Sweden, and of some other churches.
Appointment as a parish priest entails the enjoyment of a benefice.
Parishes of this type are found in England, Ireland, the Channel Islands, the U.S. state of Louisiana (where it is equivalent to a county), Estonia and a number of island nations in the region of the Caribbean.
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