Episcopal Church Style Guide

The following information is designed to help those who write about the Episcopal Church, its clergy and ministries.

The official name of the church is The Episcopal Church.

When writing about the Episcopal Church, please follow these guidelines:


  • In the first reference, the full name of the church is preferred: The Episcopal Church.
  •  When referring to church members, the term “Episcopalian” is preferred.
We elect a Presiding Bishop, who is our chief pastor and primate of the church. Chosen by the House of Bishops from one of its members, the Presiding Bishop serves for nine years, or until normal retirement age, if that occurs first. In formal usage, he or she is known as “The Most Reverend,” usually abbreviated to “The Most Rev.” His or her first name (or preferred forename) is always used, together with an initial, if applicable (e.g., “The Most Rev. John A. Smith”, or “The Most Rev. A. John Smith”).


All other bishops should be addressed as above, but using the form “The Rt. Rev.”  Priests and deacons are referred to as “The Rev.”


Our church is organized into dioceses, and there is at least one diocese in each state. However, some states have two or more dioceses. For example, we have a Diocese of New Jersey, but in the northern part of the state there is a Diocese of Newark. Likewise, there is a Diocese of Texas, but there are several other dioceses in that state.


The bishop with jurisdiction of a diocese is usually known as the “diocesan bishop,” and is sometimes known as the “Ordinary.” He or she may have other bishops to assist, who are referred to as “bishops suffragan” and are elected in the same way that bishops are, by representatives of the members of the diocese. The bishops suffragan have no jurisdiction, however, they may be assigned responsibility of specific areas and be delegated some authority by the diocesan. For example, the Diocese of New York, which comprises 10 counties in the southern part of the state, has three bishops to assist the diocesan, and each is assigned a specific area of the diocese.


In addition to bishops suffragan, other bishops, usually those who have resigned or retired from dioceses in which they were first called to serve, may serve in a similar capacity to suffragans. These are sometimes called “assistant bishops” or “assisting bishops,” or even, “bishop assisting.” For example, the Bishop of California has four retired bishops with the title of “Assisting Bishop,” all of whom have retired, but who continue to work to a greater or lesser extent.


There are several honorary titles in use. Senior members of the staff at a cathedral are usually given the title of “Canon.” Most of these are priests, in which case they are known as “The Rev. Canon.” Occasionally, a lay person with special responsibilities is given the title of Canon, in which case they are properly addressed simply as “Canon.”


Each diocese has a cathedral, usually purpose-built, or a “pro-cathedral,” usually a fairly large church that serves as a cathedral in the absence of a full cathedral. A few dioceses have more than one cathedral. It is usual to have a dean, who acts as head of the “chapter” or governing body of the cathedral. Some bishops prefer to retain full authority in their cathedral, in which case they may appoint a provost.
How do I address clergy?


Title Written Salutation Spoken
Presiding Bishop The Most Rev. Dear Bishop Bishop
Bishop The Rt. Rev. Dear Bishop Bishop
Dean The Very Rev. Dear Dean Dean
Archdeacon The Venerable Dear Archdeacon Archdeacon
Canon Canon Dear Canon Canon
Priest The Rev. Dear Mr./Ms…
Dear Father/Mother
Deacon The Rev. Dear Mr./Ms…
Dear Deacon

Episcopal Church Structure and Organization

 The Episcopal Church is governed by a bicameral General Convention, which meets every three years, and by an Executive Council during interim years. The General Convention consists of the House of Bishops and the House of Deputies.

The House of Bishops is composed of every bishop with jurisdiction (diocesan bishop), every bishop coadjutor, every suffragan bishop, every retired bishop, every bishop elected to an office created by General Convention, and every bishop who has resigned because of mission strategy – each of whom has a seat and vote. The House may also elect collegial members who are admitted with seat and voice, but no vote. Collegial members are bishops in the Anglican

The House of Deputies is composed of up to four lay and four clerical deputies from each of the jurisdictions, domestic and overseas, elected in the manner determined by each jurisdiction.


It is traditional for the House of Bishops to meet at least annually in interim sessions between General Conventions, when its agenda is limited by the Constitution and Canons to matters affecting the general state of the church and meeting the needs of contemporary society. When meeting in interim session, it does not have legislative power to initiate or

When the two houses meet concurrently in General Convention, legislation is enacted, church policy and programs are approved, and a budget for the next triennium is adopted.


The official Interim Bodies of The General Convention of the Episcopal Church are:



  • Board for Transition Ministry
  • Board of the Archives of the Episcopal Church
  • Board of Trustees for the Church Pension Fund
  • Episcopal Relief and Development Board of Directors
  • General Board of Examining Chaplains
  • United Thank Offering Board

Bishop Committee

  • House of Bishops
  • House of Bishops Committee on Pastoral Development
  • House of Bishops Committee on Theology
  • House of Bishops Planning Committee
  • Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice


  • Disciplinary Board for Bishops

Covenant Committee

  • A Igreja Episcopal Anglicana do Brasil
  • EDSJ Covenant Committee
  • Episcopal Church in the Philippines
  • La Iglesia Anglicana de la Region Central de America
  • La Iglesia Anglicana de Mexico
  • South Carolina Covenant Committee
  • The Episcopal Church in Liberia

Deputy Committee

  • House of Deputies Committee on the State of the Church
  • President of the House of Deputies Council of Advice

Executive Council Committee or Commission

  • Assessment Review Committee
  • Commission on Impairment and Leadership
  • EDSJ Covenant Committee
  • Executive Council Committee on Anti-Racism
  • Executive Council Committee on Corporate and Social Responsibility
  • Executive Council Economic Justice Loan Committee
  • Executive Council Executive Committee
  • Executive Council Investment Committee
  • Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Advocacy and Networking
  • Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Finances for Mission
  • Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Governance and Administration for Mission
  • Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on Local Ministry and Mission
  • Executive Council Joint Standing Committee on World Mission
  • Executive Council Subcommittee to Review Grants Processes
  • Joint Audit Committee of the Executive Council and the DFMS
  • South Carolina Covenant Committee

Joint Standing Committee

  • Joint Nominating Committee for the Election of the Presiding Bishop
  • Joint Standing Committee on Nominations
  • Joint Standing Committee on Planning and Arrangements
  • Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance


  • Anglican-Roman Catholic Dialogue in the USA
  • Bishop for the Office of Pastoroal Development Search Committee
  • Committee to Study the Relationship of General Seminary & General Convention
  • COO Nomination Advisory Committee
  • House of Bishops Spouse/Partner Planning Group
  • Legal Review Committee
  • Lutheran Episcopal Coordinating Committee
  • Moravian Episcopal Coordinating Committee
  • Presbyterian Episcopal Dialogue Committee
  • Provincial Leadership Council
  • United Methodist Episcopal Committee

Standing Commission

  • Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music
  • Standing Commission on Structure, Governance, Constitution and Canons