Leadership and governance

The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York Designate together in December 2019

The Church is led by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and 106 other bishops. They provide guidance and direction to the churches across the country and make decisions on the Church in society.

The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior bishop of the Church and has oversight for the ministry and mission in the southern two-thirds of England. He also fills a unique position in the worldwide Anglican Church as spiritual leader. The second most senior bishop is the Archbishop of York and has oversight for the ministry and mission in the northern third of England. Together they lead the vision and direction of the Church of England.

Each of our 42 dioceses is led by the diocesan bishop and most are supported by other (suffragan or area) bishops. Each of the diocesan bishops along with their leadership teams are responsible for the care of parishes and clergy across each province. All diocesan bishops are members of the House of Bishops, along with a small number of other elected bishops. The House of Bishops is one of the three houses of the General Synod. The General Synod is an assembly of bishops, clergy and laity, which meets at least twice a year to debate and decide the Church’s laws and discuss matters of public interest.

Our two archbishops and 24 other bishops sit in the House of Lords, making a major contribution to Parliament's work. They are known as Lords Spiritual.

His Majesty the King is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England. The King appoints archbishops, bishops and deans of cathedrals on the advice of the Prime Minister.

National Church Institutions

There are seven national administrative bodies that work together to support the mission and ministries of the Church. These are called National Church Institutions (NCIs).

Each has a role to play in helping the day-to-day work of churches across England. They serve as the Church’s central office, managing finance, education, communications, and more, to keep the Church of England growing.

They work with parishes, dioceses (regional offices), schools, other ministries and our partners at a national and international level.

The seven NCIs are:

  • The Archbishops' Council provides leadership, strategy and executive responsibility
  • Lambeth Palace is the office and home of the Archbishop of Canterbury
  • Bishopthorpe Palace is the office and home of the Archbishop of York
  • The Church Commissioners manages the national Church’s investment fund and provides money to support the Church’s work
  • The Church of England Pensions Board provides retirement services for those who have served or worked for the Church
  • The National Society for Promoting Religious Education is our education department
  • The Church of England Central Services includes HR, Finance & Resources, IT, Legal, Communications, and Record Centre

The NCIs are separate legal entities, but they are a common employer. The present arrangements were established under the National Institutions Measure 1998. Learn more about the work of the National Church Institutions.