The term is used in the 1979 BCP and earlier editions, and means a self-supporting congregation under a rector, as opposed to a mission or other congregation under a vicar. Some state laws provide for the incorporation of Episcopal parishes, and the election of rectors, wardens, and vestry members. Many diocesan canons distinguish between a fully self-supporting congregation with a full-time priest and one which is not, calling the former “parishes” and the latter “missions.” However, other Episcopal dioceses call all congregations “parishes,” or simply “congregations.” In English canon law, a parish is an area under the spiritual care of a priest. The term is used without any specific definition other than a “Congregation of this Church” in the canons of the Episcopal Church.
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.