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#1 Jul 21, 2009
The Rectory of an Episcopal Church is generally not a community or parish hall. Rather, it is where the rector, or priest in charge, of the parish, and his family, live.
Providing housing for the rector reduces the amount which the parish needs to pay her or him, and insures that he or she has a short commute, with no need to commute from a home he/she can afford to his job and his community. It also allows a parish to choose from a wider field of candidates, not excluding those who simply can't afford a down payment in their town, or a mortgage for a house sufficient to shelter the family.
One of the problems with having the rectory on the same property is that the priest and family have little or no privacy, and a good parish does what it can to provide that privacy. Many churches supply housing in the same town but not on the same property for this reason.
In the Episcopal church, a parish which provides housing also provides an annual contribution to an equity fund so that at the end of a career, the priest has some funds with which to purchase housing, since he/she will not have built up any home equity.
Most Episcopal churches also have a parish house, which includes a large community room and the Sunday School classrooms, which may be rented out to a nursery or private school during the week -- a practice which benefits both, but also crimps the use of the parish house by the parish. It is this parish house which serves the parish community as a gathering place. It and the church itself are the spiritual home; the rectory is the priest's home.
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