In Anglicanism, clergy consist of the orders of deacons, priests (presbyters) and bishops in ascending order of seniority. Canon, archdeacon, archbishop and the like are specific positions within these orders. Bishops are typically overseers, presiding over a diocese composed of many parishes, with an archbishop presiding over a province, which is a group of dioceses. A parish (generally a single church) is looked after by one or more priests, although one priest may be responsible for several parishes. New clergy are ordained deacons. Those seeking to become priests are usually ordained priest after a year. Since the 1960s some Anglican churches have reinstituted the permanent diaconate also in addition to the transitional, order of ministry focused on ministry that bridges the church and the world, especially ministry to those on the margins of society.
For the forms of address for Anglican clergy, see Forms of address in the United Kingdom.
For a short period of history before the ordination of women as deacons, priests and bishops began within Anglicanism they could be “deaconesses”. Although they were usually considered having a ministry distinct from deacons they often had similar ministerial responsibilities.
In Anglican churches all clergy are permitted to marry. In most national churches women may become deacons or priests, but while fifteen out of 38 national churches allow for the consecration of women as bishops, only five have ordained any. Celebration of the Eucharist is reserved for priests and bishops.
National Anglican churches are presided over by one or more primates or metropolitans (archbishops or presiding bishops). The senior archbishop of the Anglican Communion is the Archbishop of Canterbury, who acts as leader of the Church of England and ‘first among equals’ of the primates of all Anglican churches.
Being a deacon, priest or bishop is considered a function of the person and not a job. When priests retire they are still priests even if they no longer have any active ministry. However, they only hold the basic rank after retirement. Thus a retired archbishop can only be considered a bishop (though it is possible to refer to ‘Bishop John Smith, the former Archbishop of York’), a canon or archdeacon is a priest on retirement and does not hold any additional honorifics.