What is Canterbury Diocese?

Canterbury Diocese, the oldest diocese in England, stretches from Maidstone to Thanet, the Isle of Sheppey to the Romney Marsh and includes 327 churches in 222 parishes, along with 103 church schools and a University with a Church of England foundation, organised into 15 deaneries and three archdeaconries. Whilst the Archbishop of Canterbury is the diocesan bishop, day to day oversight of the diocese is delegated to the Bishop of Dover.



Encompassed by the statement: Changed Lives → Changing Lives, the Diocese of Canterbury is committed to the following three objectives:

  • To grow the church numerically and spiritually
  • To re-imagine ministry
  • To build partnerships that enrich communities


The structures of the diocese have been re-worked in order to facilitate the achievement of these objectives into key ‘frameworks’:

  • Children, Schools and Young People
  • Local Church Development
  • Licensed Ministries
  • Communities and Partnerships

These frameworks replaced the traditional concept of Boards and Committees and represent a flexible way of working for the Diocese with communication and collaboration at its heart. Frameworks work together to support churches, schools and deaneries as they work towards the Diocese’s objectives.


Canterbury Diocesan Synod comprises 154 elected members of the clergy and laity. Archbishop’s Council includes elected Synod representatives and ex-officio members who represent the frameworks of the Diocese. Archbishop’s Council members are Board Directors and Charity Trustees of the Diocesan Board of Finance.

Diocese of Canterbury – Peer review report October 2018

Archbishop and Bishop

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the Diocesan Bishop – but due to the extent of his national and international duties, the Archbishop of Canterbury delegates oversight of Canterbury Diocese to the Bishop of Dover (Bishop in Canterbury). The Bishop is supported by three Archdeacons. Parishes who cannot accept the ministry of women receive episcopal oversight from the Bishop of Richborough, the Right Reverend Norman Banks.

The Bishop of Maidstone is a national post (rather than a Diocesan/suffragan post) who advocates and ministers to those who hold the conservative evangelical view on headship.

Mission Action Planning

The Diocese uses Mission Action Planning as a process and planning tool to help deaneries, benefices and parishes prayerfully review and choose, plan and act on mission activities that will help further the objectives of the Diocese. Deaneries and benefices are supported to this end by ‘Mission Accompaniers’.  Accompaniment in the Diocese of Canterbury

Top 10 facts about The Church of England

  • Conducts more than a thousand marriages a week
  • Conducts more than 2,500 christenings and thanksgivings a week
  • 85% of the British population visit a church each year
  • 25% of all primary schools and 1 in 16 secondary schools are Church of England, many in deprived areas
  • Church of England schools educate almost a million students
  • At Christmas 35% of the population attend a church service
  • More than 1.6 million people a month attend a Church of England service
  • Churchgoers contribute 23.2 million hours each month outside their local church to voluntary work in their local community
  • Congregations give £49 million a year to other charities
  • Provides activities outside church worship in the local community for 470,000 children and young people (aged under 16 years)

The Church of England offers more than a thousand couples a week, the unforgettable experience of a Church Wedding (nearly 55,000 couples per year). Marriages in the Church of England increased by four per cent in 2010 to 54,700 compared to 52,730 in 2009; services of prayer and dedication following a civil wedding also rose by two per cent to 4,020, up from 3,940. The Church of England conducted 144,200 Christenings and Thanksgivings for a safe birth in 2010. 85% of people in Britain visit a church in any one year for many reasons apart from services of worship. Weddings, funerals, school services, concerts and special events attract people to these centres of community life. The Church of England regularly provides the centrepiece of important moments in the nation’s life, from celebrating Her Majesty’s Diamond Jubilee, Royal weddings, coronations and funerals to helping the nation pay its respects to those who have given their lives in the armed forces. The Church of England is also at the heart of communities as a sacred space during, for example, the Soham murder inquiries and funerals, such as those of the Manchester policewomen or Jade Goody, as well as remembrance services. In 2009, 43 per cent of adults attended a church or place of worship for a memorial service for someone who had died and 17 per cent entered just seeking a quiet space. At Christmas, 35% of people in Britain attend a church service while 20% attend a normal Sunday or midweek church service over the course of the year. For Church of England churches, this brings some 1.1 million people during a typical week to their regular services, more than 1.6 million a month and as many as 3 million at Christmas. 200 years ago, the Church of England led the way in providing schools to educate all. Today, 4,700 Church of England schools educate almost 1 million children; 25% of all primary schools and 1 in 16 secondary schools are Church of England, many in deprived areas. More people do unpaid work for churches than for any other organisation. Churchgoers contribute 23.2 million hours each month outside their local church to the local community. The Church of England provides activities outside church worship in the local community for 470,000 children and young people (aged under 16 years) and 32,900 young people (aged 16 to 25 years). More than 116,000 volunteers and an additional 4900 employed adults run children/young people activity groups sponsored by the Church of England outside church worship. Church of England congregations give £49 million a year to other charities – that’s more than the BBC’s annual Children in Need appeal. The Church of England plays a vital role in the life of the nation, proclaiming the Christian Gospel in words and actions and providing services of Christian worship and praise. The Church of England maintains more than 16,000 church buildings across England, 9,000 of which are rural and 7,000 in urban areas; including 42 cathedrals. Two-thirds of them are listed buildings, including 45% of all Grade 1 listed buildings in England. It costs more than £110million a year, most of which is raised by the hard work of clergy, churchwardens and parishioners, to maintain this jewel of England’s architectural heritage. Three church and cathedral locations are World Heritage Sites: Durham Castle and Cathedral; Canterbury Cathedral, St Augustine’s Abbey & St Martin’s Church; and Westminster Abbey and St Margaret’s Church. Its network of parishes covers the country, bringing a vital Christian dimension to the nation as well as strengthening community life in numerous urban, suburban and rural settings. Its cathedrals are centres of spirituality and service, and its network of chaplaincies across continental Europe meet important local needs. The Church of England plays an active role in national life with its members involved in a wide range of public bodies. Twenty-six bishops are members of the House of Lords and are engaged in debates about legislation and national and international affairs. The Church of England is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion. Facts from www.churchofengland.org/about-us/facts-stats.aspx

The Diocese includes:

  • 334 Churches
  • 222 Parishes
  • 104 Benefices
  • 119 Full-time Stipendiary Parochial clergy
  • 60 Non Stipendiary clergy
  • 250 Clergy with Permission to Officiate
  • 273 Lay Readers
  • 103 Church of England Schools
  • Around 16,292 people worship in an Anglican church in the Diocese each week
  • Around 4,000 people hold offices or volunteer for the church in roles as diverse as lay ministers, churchwardens, parish secretary, child protection co-ordinator, Sunday school leaders etc…