How you participate

It may seem like a long way from your church pew to Indianapolis – literally and figuratively – but every Episcopalian is actually represented at General Convention. 

The Episcopal Church is made up of more than two million worshipers in some 7,000 congregations across the United States and elsewhere, including Europe, South America and the Caribbean. Its congregations range from thousands gathering in venerable cathedrals to small groups worshipping in storefronts.  

Each parish elects some of its members to manage its finances and property – the vestry. Those members choose a rector to lead them in worship, teach them about the Christian life, help them minister in Christ’s name to the world and counsel them in times of need. (In a mission congregation, like components are the bishop’s committee and the vicar, both of which are appointed by the diocesan bishop.)  

A geographic cluster of congregations is formed into a diocese, and each congregation supports and is involved in the life of the diocese. The people and clergy of a diocese elect a bishop, chosen from among the clergy, to lead their diocese. The bishop, in consultation with the laity and clergy, chooses people to serve as priests and deacons.  

Annually, the clergy of the diocese and lay representatives of each congregation gather in a diocesan council or convention. Councils elect diocesan leaders, set diocesan policy, approve a diocesan budget, and elect representatives every three years to represent the diocese at General Convention.

The bishops of the Church and representatives of each of the Church’s 110 diocese then gather every three years in the Church’s General Convention. Together the deputies and bishops agree on the canons that set broad boundaries and hold the clergy and members of the church accountable to each other. Together the entire Episcopal Church accomplishes ministry that can be carried out more effectively with shared resources.


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