An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Institution of a Minister, Letter of

During feudal times in England, a Letter of Institution from the bishop was part of the legal process of induction of a priest to a parish. This letter authorized the priest to exercise ministry in the parish. Ceremonies of institution and induction continued in the Anglican Church after the Reformation. In the Episcopal Church, Prayer Books included “An Office of Institution of Ministers into Parishes or Churches.” The bishop's Letter of Institution was read at this service. The 1979 BCP provides a form for the Celebration of a New Ministry (pp. 559-564). A format for the bishop's Letter of Institution of a Minister precedes this service (BCP, p. 557). It is addressed to the presbyter being inducted in the new ministry. The name and place of the church or place of ministry are stated in the Letter of Institution. The Letter of Institution is appropriate for the induction of a rector of a parish, a cathedral dean, or others with similar tenure of office (BCP, p. 564). The Celebration of a New Ministry begins with the institution. The bishop may read the Letter of Institution at the opening of the service, after the wardens have stated that the new minister is well qualified and properly selected (BCP, p. 559). The Letter of Institution is a sign that the presbyter is “fully empowered and authorized to exercise this ministry.”

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from “An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians,” Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.