An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church

Presiding Bishop

Chief Pastor and Primate of the Episcopal Church. The office evolved originally from a rule of the House of Bishops in 1789 making its presiding officer the senior member in terms of date of consecration. As a result of increased duties, the office was incorporated into the Constitution of the Church in 1901 and styled Presiding Bishop of the Church. In 1919 the office was made elective and invested with executive responsibility for all departments of the church's work. The first election of a Presiding Bishop by General Convention took place in 1925. Since 1943 the Presiding Bishop has been required to resign diocesan jurisdiction upon election. In 1967 the duties of the office were significantly enhanced. As “Chief Pastor,” the Presiding Bishop is charged with initiating and developing church policy and strategy, speaking God's Word to the church and the world, and visiting every diocese of the church. The title “Primate” was added in 1982. The Cathedral of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Washington, D. C., is the official seat of the Presiding Bishop. The office of the Presiding Bishop is located at the Episcopal Church Center in New York City. The present term of office for the Presiding Bishop is nine years.

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.