Bishop Eric Menees
We continue our exploration of the “Jerusalem Declaration” (the full text of which can be found here:
https://www.gafcon.org/resources/the-complete-jerusalem-statement). This week we look at point seven: The Ordinal.
We recognize that God has called and gifted bishops, priests and deacons in historic succession to equip all the people of God for their ministry in the world. We uphold the classic Anglican Ordinal as an authoritative standard of clerical orders.
When the Anglican Church in North America formed in 2009, one of the first things that Archbishop Duncan did was to launch the Prayer Book Task Force; charging them with developing a new Book of Common Prayer. (I’m thrilled that we are on schedule to have the first printing in early 2019!) The very first service produced and agreed upon was the Ordinal. I suppose the question in some people’s minds is: “What the heck is an Ordinal?” Well, the full title of the Ordinal makes it self-evident: “The Ordinal According to the Use of the Anglican Church in North America - Being the Form and Manner of Ordaining Bishops, Priests, and Deacons.”
The form and manner of ordaining bishops, priests, and deacons is a key description. You see, the Anglican church, during the Reformation, decided to maintain the historic catholic order of the threefold ordained ministries. This order is based in scripture and grounded in the first century of the early church. In this way, we differed from many of the European Reformers who decided, in essence, to do away with the historic order of the “episcopate” or bishops.
What are these orders? As one theologian has put it:
Deacons serve as the social workers of the church. In essence, they are called and gifted to make sure that no one is left behind. The first deacons in the Book of Acts were charged with looking after the Greek widows specifically, and with making sure that all widows and orphans were cared for – by the church!
Priests are the primary teachers and pastors in a congregation. They administer the sacraments to the believers; young and old alike.
Bishops, as the successors to the apostles, are tasked to “pastor the pastors” of a geographical area. They defend the faith once delivered, and they shepherd the churches and institutions in a diocese.
But most importantly, all three orders have a primary responsibility: “To equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11) It is very important to note that the ordained ministers are not to do all the work of the church. Every baptized Christian is called and equipped to fulfill the mission of Christ for his Church. The work of the ordained clergy is to support and equip the ministry of the laity!
I pray that this Lord’s Day, as you gather for worship, you will see your deacon, priest, or bishop as called and gifted by God to train and support you for the work of ministry!
I pray you all a very blessed week!