Q: While we’re at it, define the word “diocese.” My understanding is a diocese is, by definition, part of something larger; it’s a geographical designation and regional authority within a church. Is the PECDSC technically a “diocese”?
A: We believe that your understanding of the concept of a diocese is incorrect. The proper definition is that a diocese is a district or churches under the jurisdiction of a bishop. The Diocese of South Carolina, for example, predated the existence of The Episcopal Church. A diocese is a community of parishes, in freely chosen union with its Convention, and led by its bishop. No less an authority than Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, has stated that “The organ of union with the wider church is the diocese and its bishop, rather than the provincial structure ... rather than the abstract reality of the ‘national church.’ ” In other words, the organ of union with the wider church is the Diocese, not The Episcopal Church.
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