This Week at St. Stephen’s–January 27, 2013

THE ORDERS OF MINISTRY

Jan 27It’s official. Clara will be ordained a priest on May 19, 2013, at 4 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of the Redeemer. Some will say, “That’s nice. But what difference will it make? Is Clara not already a minister?”

In the Catholic tradition (of which we are part) we do not tend to use the word ‘minister’ for the clergy. The reason is that all baptized Christians are called to be followers of Jesus Christ, each with their own unique ministry to offer. Calling the clergy ‘ministers’ undermines the notion that we’re ALL ministers.

But having said that, the Church has created three orders of ministry set aside for distinct service and leadership: deacons, priests and bishops. Clara is currently a deacon, a role embodying Christian service that is symbolized by her reading the Gospel each week, preaching, preparing the altar, and giving the dismissal. A deacon reminds us of our own baptismal calling to serve.

A priest stands at the centre of a congregation’s worship by presiding at the Eucharist. A priest can also baptize, bless people and things (the rings at a wedding, for instance, and then the couple in the “nuptial blessing”), and pronounce absolution, or forgiveness, in God’s name.

A bishop, who continues to share the functions of deacon and priest, has the added authority to consecrate Christians for ministry in the rites of Confirmation and Ordination, to “defend” the faith, and to be a unifying symbol of the Church.

In short: to each their own.

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