Bishop's Visitation

What is an Episcopal Visitation?

An Episcopal Visitation is one of the principal responsibilities of a bishop. It is the regular pastoral visitation the bishop makes to all congregations and worshiping communities in the diocese. While the visitation is a canonical requirement, it is mostly an opportunity for the bishop to celebrate the ministries in each local church community. It provides the bishop with an opportunity to preach and teach, to share in the sacramental life of the parish, and to build relationships through fellowship and collaboration. It is always the bishop’s hope to have grace-filled, honest conversations with parish leaders and to have an opportunity to lend pastoral support and encouragement to the local mission of the church.

How are visitations scheduled?

Visitations are scheduled balancing the following priorities:

  • The length of time since the last pastoral visitation;
  • The need to schedule episcopal rites: major parish anniversaries, dedications of new buildings, groundbreakings, etc. Some are scheduled on days other than Sundays;
  • Particular pastoral needs of the parish such as the celebration of the feast of title or other significant event in the life of the parish.

The bishop’s office schedules pastoral visitations up to a year in advance. However, the Cleric in charge of a congregation may also call to schedule a pastoral visitation. As a general rule, the bishop does not return to a parish for a regular pastoral visitation until all other parishes have been visited.

When will the clergy and lay leaders have an opportunity to meet with the bishop?

Meeting with the Vestry/Bishop’s Committee

The bishop will meet with the parish clergy and vestry/bishop's committee on the day of the pastoral visitation. A member of the bishop’s staff may attend as well depending upon the particular needs, concerns or aspirations of the congregation.

During the meeting, the bishop will want to hear about the mission and ministry of the congregation, their acts of caring and sharing with each other, purpose in the community beyond their doors, missionary endeavors, collaborative ministry in which they are engaged with neighboring parishes and involvement in the deanery/neighborhood.

The bishop will want to hear about any particular vision, hopes or concerns before the congregation and will want to explore these together.

What to expect on the day of the Pastoral Visitation

Bishop's Arrival

The bishop will make every effort to arrive at the parish at least 30 minutes before the liturgy. Please be sure to reserve two parking spots: one for the bishop and one for the deacon assisting the bishop during the visitation

Examination of Registers and Facilities

During the visitation, the bishop will review the Sacramental Registry and Worship Register and will request a tour of the parish facilities.

The Liturgy

The bishop anticipates that all visitations will be celebrations of the Holy Eucharist, Rite II and that the Propers of the Sunday are observed. The scripture readings should be drawn from the Revised Common Lectionary. Generally, the bishop will wear the local parish vestments, wearing a chasuble for the entire liturgy. The bishop is always pleased to sing as much of the liturgy as desired.

Time with the Youth

The bishop does not typically prepare a children's sermon. However, time can be spent with the children in the parish during the liturgy or in other contexts. If necessary, the bishop is also willing to spend time prior to the liturgy with confirmands or those about to be received.

The Loose Plate Offering

The loose plate offering is to be designated for the Bishop's Discretionary Fund. It is best that the sum of the collection be submitted by check made payable to the Diocese of Long Island and sent to our Finance Department. Please be sure to write Bishop’s Discretionary Fund on the memo line. If it is necessary for you to send the actual loose offering, be sure that the checks are payable to the Diocese of Long Island.

Parish Announcements

The Clergy in Charge (or one of the wardens, if customary) should make the necessary parish announcements.

Safe Church Audit

A Safe Church Audit must be completed prior to each Canonical Visitation. The audit form can be found here.

Baptisms, Confirmations, Receptions and Reaffirmations


The bishop is always happy to preside at the sacraments of initiation during a pastoral visitation (except during Lent). Should there be baptisms, please know that the local clergy is to participate, usually in the water baptism. The bishop will do the chrismation with oil. (Please be sure that Chrism oil is available.)

Adults having been baptized that day do NOT then proceed to the celebration of Confirmation. They have already made an adult affirmation in their baptismal vows and have been sealed with the power of the Spirit through the anointing with Sacred Chrism.


Though diocesan-wide Confirmations are scheduled throughout the year, the bishop asks that parishes with upcoming pastoral visitations NOT forward candidates to a regional confirmation liturgy. Whenever possible, confirmations and receptions will be celebrated in the local parish during the pastoral visitation (except during Lent). Again, please ensure that Chrism is available for the bishop in some sort of an oil stock.

Candidates should be aware that in the liturgy for confirmation, reception and reaffirmation, the bishop will impose hands on the candidates’ head using the proper prayer and, in confirmation, anointing the forehead of the forehead with Chrism.

Confirmation sponsors and family members are always welcomed to accompany the candidate and stand with them before the bishop.

The question of who should be confirmed, received, and reaffirmed is not as complicated as it once was. Changes made in the Canons with respect to church membership by the General Convention of 1985, and refined in 1988, have made this fairly simple in practical application:

  • Confirmation is for children who were baptized in the Episcopal Church or who came to this church with their families before making a "mature commitment;"
  • Confirmation is also appropriate for those of any age who, having been previously baptized, are making a mature commitment for the first time;
  • Reception is for those who have previously made a mature commitment in any other Christian church.

Presentation of Candidates

When there is to be confirmation, reception, or reaffirmation at a parish visitation, candidates may be presented to the bishop in the most convenient order. The candidate’s name is to be spoken clearly to the bishop. In rare instances where names must be written, index cards with the names of candidates clearly printed are preferred over names tags.


The bishop is always available to stand for photographs with the candidates at an appropriate time following the conclusion of the liturgy.





Confirmation is sacramental rite in which the candidates "express a mature commitment to Christ, and receive strength from the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands by a bishop" (BCP, p. 860). Those who were baptized at an early age and those baptized as adults without laying on of hands by a bishop are expected to make a mature public affirmation of their faith, recommit themselves to the responsibilities of their baptism, and receive laying on of hands by a bishop (BCP, p. 412). Adults baptized with the laying on of hands by a bishop are considered to be confirmed. 


Schedule of Confirmations









There are certain steps that must be observed in order for an Episcopal clergyperson to officiate at the marriage of persons when one or both have been previously married. These steps are canonical (Title I, Canon 18) and procedural in nature.  

The following must be submitted to the Bishop’s office at 36 Cathedral Avenue, Garden City at least 60 days in advance of the proposed date of marriage: 

Following the wedding, the clergy person should complete the Notice of Solemnization and email it to the Bishop’s office.