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Religious Order 

A society of Christians who voluntarily commit themselves for life or a term of years to living a celibate life in community, holding possessions in common with other community members, and obeying the rule or constitution of the community. A religious order must have at least six professed members to be officially recognized in the Episcopal Church, according to the canon on religious orders and other Christian communities. The superior is the head or presider of a religious order. A novice guardian typically guides the formation of prospective new members. Religious orders in the Episcopal Church must have an episcopal visitor who serves as guardian of the rule or constitution of the community and as final arbiter of unresolved issues in the community. The rule or constitution reflects and shapes the community's mission and spirituality. It also defines the duties and responsibilities of the community's members and leaders. The Episcopal Church includes a variety of religious orders for women, for men, and for mixed communities. There are religious orders with active, contemplative, and mixed expressions of community life. A variety of spiritualities are represented in Episcopal religious orders, including Benedictine, Franciscan, and Augustinian. Recognized religious orders of the Episcopal Church belong to the Conference on the Religious Life in the Anglican Communion in the Americas. The Conference on the Religious Life publishes a Directory which includes descriptions and addresses for its members. See Conference on the Religious Life in the Anglican Communion in the Americas, The; see Monastic. 

Glossary definitions provided courtesy of Church Publishing Incorporated, New York, NY,(All Rights reserved) from "An Episcopal Dictionary of the Church, A User Friendly Reference for Episcopalians," Don S. Armentrout and Robert Boak Slocum, editors.
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