Episcopal polity

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Church authority in ceremonies is often represented by a mitre as headdress. Mitre evolution.gif
Church authority in ceremonies is often represented by a mitre as headdress.
The chair (cathedra) of the Supreme Pontiff (Pope) of the Catholic Church in the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran in Rome, Italy represents his episcopal authority. Roma-san giovanni03.jpg
The chair (cathedra) of the Supreme Pontiff (Pope) of the Catholic Church in the Archbasilica of St. John in Lateran in Rome, Italy represents his episcopal authority.

An episcopal polity is a hierarchical form of church governance ("ecclesiastical polity") in which the chief local authorities are called bishops. (The word "bishop" derives, via the British Latin and Vulgar Latin term *ebiscopus/*biscopus, from the Ancient Greek ἐπίσκοποςepískopos meaning "overseer".) It is the structure used by many of the major Christian Churches and denominations, such as the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Church of the East, Anglican, and Lutheran churches or denominations, and other churches founded independently from these lineages.

A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy is an important concept in a wide variety of fields, such as philosophy, mathematics, computer science, organizational theory, systems theory, and the social sciences.

Ecclesiastical polity is the operational and governance structure of a church or of a Christian denomination. It also denotes the ministerial structure of a church and the authority relationships between churches. Polity relates closely to ecclesiology, the study of doctrine and theology relating to church organization.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

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Churches with an episcopal polity are governed by bishops, practicing their authorities in the dioceses and conferences or synods. Their leadership is both sacramental and constitutional; as well as performing ordinations, confirmations, and consecrations, the bishop supervises the clergy within a local jurisdiction and is the representative both to secular structures and within the hierarchy of the church. Bishops are considered to derive their authority from an unbroken, personal apostolic succession from the Twelve Apostles of Jesus. Bishops with such authority are said to represent the historical episcopate or historic episcopate. Churches with this type of government usually believe that the Church requires episcopal government as described in the New Testament (see 1 Timothy 3 and 2 Timothy 1). In some systems, bishops may be subject to bishops holding a higher office (variously called archbishops, metropolitans, or patriarchs, depending upon the tradition). They also meet in councils or synods. These gatherings, subject to presidency by higher ranking bishops, usually make important decisions, though the synod or council may also be purely advisory.

Polity group of people who are collectively united by a self-reflected cohesive force

A polity is an identifiable political entity. It can be defined as any group of people who have a collective identity, who have a capacity to mobilize resources, and are organized by some form of institutionalized hierarchy. A polity can be the government of a country, or country subdivision, or any other group of people organized for governance.

Diocese Christian district or see under the supervision of a bishop

The word diocese is derived from the Greek term dioikesis (διοίκησις) meaning "administration". Today, when used in an ecclesiastical sense, it refers to the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. Sometimes it is also called bishopric.

Synod council of a church

A synod is a council of a church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word synod comes from the Greek σύνοδος (sýnodos) meaning "assembly" or "meeting", and it is synonymous with the Latin word concilium meaning "council". Originally, synods were meetings of bishops, and the word is still used in that sense in Catholicism, Oriental Orthodoxy and Eastern Orthodoxy. In modern usage, the word often refers to the governing body of a particular church, whether its members are meeting or not. It is also sometimes used to refer to a church that is governed by a synod.

For much of the written history of institutional Christianity, episcopal government was the only known form of church organization. This changed at the Reformation. Many Protestant churches are now organized by either congregational or presbyterian church polities, both descended from the writings of John Calvin, a Protestant reformer working and writing independently following the break with the Roman Catholic Church precipitated by The Ninety-Five Theses of Martin Luther.

Recorded history historical narrative based on a written record or other documented communication

Recorded history or written history is a historical narrative based on a written record or other documented communication. It contrasts with other narratives of the past, such as mythological, oral or archeological traditions. For broader world history, recorded history begins with the accounts of the ancient world around the 4th millennium BC, and coincides with the invention of writing. For some geographic regions or cultures, written history is limited to a relatively recent period in human history because of the limited use of written records. Moreover, human cultures do not always record all of the information relevant to later historians, such as the full impact of natural disasters or the names of individuals. Recorded history for particular types of information is therefore limited based on the types of records kept. Because of this, recorded history in different contexts may refer to different periods of time depending on the topic.

Protestantism Division within Christianity, originating with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church

Protestantism is the second largest form of Christianity with collectively between 800 million and more than 900 million adherents worldwide or nearly 40% of all Christians. It originated with the 16th century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be errors in the Roman Catholic Church. Protestants reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of papal supremacy and sacraments, but disagree among themselves regarding the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. They emphasize the priesthood of all believers, justification by faith alone rather than also by good works, and the highest authority of the Bible alone in faith and morals. The "five solae" summarise basic theological differences in opposition to the Roman Catholic Church.

Congregationalist polity, or congregational polity, often known as congregationalism, is a system of ecclesiastical polity in which every local church congregation is independent, ecclesiastically sovereign, or "autonomous". Its first articulation in writing is the Cambridge Platform of 1648 in New England. Among those major Protestant Christian traditions that employ congregationalism are those Congregational churches known by the Congregationalist name that descended from the Independent Reformed wing of the Anglo-American Puritan movement of the 17th century, Quakerism, the Baptist churches, as well as the Congregational Methodist Church. More recent generations have witnessed also a growing number of nondenominational churches, which are most often congregationalist in their governance.

Overview of episcopal churches

The government of a bishop is typically symbolized by a cathedral church, such as the bishops's see at Chartres Cathedral. Chartres 1.jpg
The government of a bishop is typically symbolized by a cathedral church, such as the bishops's see at Chartres Cathedral.

The definition of the word episcopal has variation among Christian traditions. There are subtle differences in governmental principles among episcopal churches at the present time. To some extent the separation of episcopal churches can be traced to these differences in ecclesiology, that is, their theological understanding of church and church governance. For some, "episcopal churches" are churches that use a hierarchy of bishops that regard themselves as being in an unbroken, personal apostolic succession.

In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Christian Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its polity, its discipline, its destiny, and its leadership.

Apostolic succession the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church is held to be derived from the apostles by a continuous succession

Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church is held to be derived from the apostles by a continuous succession, which has usually been associated with a claim that the succession is through a series of bishops. This series was seen originally as that of the bishops of a particular see founded by one or more of the apostles. According to historian Justo L. González, apostolic succession is generally understood today as meaning a series of bishops, regardless of see, each consecrated by other bishops, themselves consecrated similarly in a succession going back to the apostles. According to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, "apostolic succession" means more than a mere transmission of powers. It is succession in a Church which witnesses to the apostolic faith, in communion with the other Churches, witnesses of the same apostolic faith. The "see (cathedra) plays an important role in inserting the bishop into the heart of ecclesial apostolicity", but, once ordained, the bishop becomes in his Church the guarantor of apostolicity and becomes a successor of the apostles.

"Episcopal" is also commonly used to distinguish between the various organizational structures of denominations. For instance, "Presbyterian" (Greek : 'πρεσβύτης, presbútēs) is used to describe a church governed by a hierarchy of assemblies of elected elders, referred to as Presbyterian polity. Similarly, "episcopal" is used to describe a church governed by bishops. Self-governed local congregations, governed neither by elders nor bishops, are usually described as "congregational".

Christian denomination identifiable Christian body with common name, structure, and doctrine

A Christian denomination is a distinct religious body within Christianity, identified by traits such as a name, organization, leadership and doctrine. Individual bodies, however, may use alternative terms to describe themselves, such as church or sometimes fellowship. Divisions between one group and another are defined by authority and doctrine; issues such as the nature of Jesus, the authority of apostolic succession, eschatology, and papal primacy may separate one denomination from another. Groups of denominations—often sharing broadly similar beliefs, practices, and historical ties—are sometimes known as "branches of Christianity". These branches differ in many ways, especially through differences in practices and belief.

Greek language Language spoken in Greece, Cyprus and Southern Albania

Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.

Presbyterianpolity is a method of church governance typified by the rule of assemblies of presbyters, or elders. Each local church is governed by a body of elected elders usually called the session or consistory, though other terms, such as church board, may apply. Groups of local churches are governed by a higher assembly of elders known as the presbytery or classis; presbyteries can be grouped into a synod, and presbyteries and synods nationwide often join together in a general assembly. Responsibility for conduct of church services is reserved to an ordained minister or pastor known as a teaching elder, or a minister of the word and sacrament.

More specifically, the capitalized appellation "Episcopal" is applied to several churches historically based within Anglicanism ("Episcopalianism"), including those still in communion with the Church of England.

Anglicanism The practices, liturgy and identity of the Church of England

Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition which has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation.

Church of England Anglican state church of England

The Church of England is the established church of England. The Archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior cleric, although the monarch is the supreme governor. The Church of England is also the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church recorded as existing in the Roman province of Britain by the third century, and to the 6th-century Gregorian mission to Kent led by Augustine of Canterbury.

Using these definitions, examples of specific episcopal churches include:

Some Lutheran churches practice congregational polity or a form of presbyterian polity. [1] Others, including the Church of Sweden, practice episcopal polity; the Church of Sweden also counts its bishops among the historic episcopate as do some American Lutheran churches like the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, Lutheran Orthodox Church, Lutheran Church - International, and the Lutheran Episcopal Communion.

Many Methodist churches (see The United Methodist Church, among others) retain the form and function of episcopal polity, although in a modified form, called connexionalism. Since all trace their ordinations to an Anglican priest, John Wesley, it is generally considered that their bishops do not share in apostolic succession, though United Methodists still affirm that their bishops share in the historic episcopate.

Before the Great Schism

All orthodox Christians were in churches with an episcopal government, that is, one Church under local bishops and regional Patriarchs. Writing between ca. 85 and 110, St. Ignatius of Antioch, Patriarch of Antioch, was the earliest of the Church fathers to define the importance of episcopal government. Assuming Ignatius' view was the Apostolic teaching and practice, the line of succession was unbroken and passed through the four ancient Patriarchal sees (those local churches known to be founded by apostles), Rome, Jerusalem, Antioch and Alexandria. Rome was the leading Patriarchate of the ancient four by virtue of its founding by Saints Peter and Paul and their martyrdom there, not to mention being the political center of the Roman empire at the time. Some organizations (e.g. the Assyrian Church of the East), though aloof from the political wranglings of imperial Christianity, nevertheless also practiced episcopal polity.

Shortly after the Roman Emperor Constantine I legalized Christianity in 321, he also constructed an elaborate second capital of the Roman Empire located at Byzantium and renamed it Constantinople, in 324. The single Roman Empire was divided between these two autonomous administrative centers, Roman and Constantinopolitan, West and East, Latin speaking and Greek speaking. This remained the status quo through the fourth century. A deep chasm developed between the East and West, becoming critical around 350, known as the Arian, or Nicene controversy. The Eastern Christian Churches were thought by Constantine to believe against the Trinity; that Christ was lesser than God. Hilary, Bishop of Poitiers, France, believed that the Eastern Church should be given the opportunity to, at least, be educated on the subject. Constantine, in his wisdom, and upset by disagreement, banished Hilary to the East. Hilary perfected his Greek language skills while in exile, and determined the great divide between Rome and the East was actually not a disagreement at all, and was merely a linguistic ignorance on the part of his Latin speaking contemporaries. This truth became known in the West, though some differences lingered. Hilary of Poitiers later became St. Hilary, Doctor of the Church, for exposing the true Christian beliefs of the Eastern Church. Many of Hilary's writings were lost to time.

In the fifth century, Pope Dioscorus, the Patriarch of Alexandria, rejected certain Christological dogmas promulgated by the Council of Chalcedon, and as a result, the Oriental Orthodox churches split from the rest; however they continued the episcopal tradition, and today in fact there is dialog between the various orthodox churches over whether the schism was due to real differences or simply translation failures.

Also during the fifth century, the Western Roman Empire declined and was overrun by German and Frankish peoples. Although the city of Rome was in ruins, distant from the seat of secular power, and constantly harassed by invaders, the Roman Patriarchate remained the center of the Western or Latin Church. Claiming the ancient primacy of Peter and the title of "Apostolic See", it remained the last court of episcopal appeal in serious matters for the whole Church, East and West. However, the center of the civilized Roman world had shifted definitively to Constantinople, or New Rome, the capital of the Greek speaking Empire. Along with this shift, the effective administration of the Church in the Eastern Roman Empire also shifted. This practical eminence of Constantinople in the East is evident, first at the First Council of Constantinople 381, and then ecumenically at the Council of Chalcedon in 451.

Beginning with John the Faster (John IV, 582-595), the Bishop of Constantinople adopted as a formal title for himself the by then customary honorific Ecumenical Patriarch ("pre-eminent father for the civilized world") over the strong objections of Rome, a title based on the political prestige of Constantinople and its economic and cultural centrality in the Empire. In the following years, Rome's appeals to the East were based on the unique authority of the Apostolic See and the primacy of Peter, over the powers of councils as defended by the East (councils, for example, had endorsed that lofty title which Rome contested).

The sometimes subtle differences between Eastern and Western conceptions of authority and its exercise produced a gradually widening rift between the Churches which continued with some occasional relief throughout the following centuries until the final rupture of the Great Schism (marked by two dates: 16 July 1054 and the Council of Florence in 1439).

Pope Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council that approved the dogma of Pope as the visible head of the church, prime bishop over a hierarchy of clergy and believers Popepiusix.jpg
Pope Pius IX convened the First Vatican Council that approved the dogma of Pope as the visible head of the church, prime bishop over a hierarchy of clergy and believers

Catholic Church

The Catholic Church has an episcopate, with the Pope, who is the Bishop of Rome, at the top. The Catholic Church considers that juridical oversight over the Church is not a power that derives from human beings, but strictly from the authority of Christ, which was given to his twelve apostles. The See of Rome, as the unbroken line of apostolic authority descending from St. Peter (the "prince and head of the apostles"), is a visible sign and instrument of communion among the college of bishops and therefore also of the local churches around the world. In communion with the worldwide college of bishops, the Pope has all legitimate juridical and teaching authority over the whole Church. This authority given by Christ to St. Peter and the apostles is transmitted from one generation to the next by the power of the Holy Spirit, through the laying on of hands from the Apostles to the bishops, in unbroken succession.

Eastern Orthodox Church

The conciliar idea of episcopal government continues in the Eastern Orthodox Church. In Eastern Orthodoxy, all autocephalous primates are seen as collectively gathering around Christ, with other archbishops and bishops gathering around them, and so forth, in a model called "conciliar hierarchy". This is based in part on the vision in the book of Revelation of the 24 elders gathered around the throne of Christ, who are believed to represent the 12 patriarchs of Israel and the 12 apostles of Jesus Christ. There is no single Patriarch with exclusive authority comparable to the Pope in Rome. However, the Patriarch of Constantinople (now Istanbul) is seen as the primus inter pares , the "first among equals" of the autocephalous churches of Eastern Orthodoxy.

Oriental Orthodox churches

The Oriental Orthodox Churches affirm the ideas of apostolic succession and episcopal government. Within each national Church, the bishops form a holy synod to which even the Patriarch is subject. The Syriac Orthodox Church traces its apostolic succession to St. Peter and recognises Antioch as the original See of St. Peter. The Armenian Apostolic Church traces its lineage to the Apostle Bartholomew. The Indian Orthodox Church traces its lineage to the Apostle Thomas. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church received its lines of succession through the Coptic Orthodox Church in the fifth century.

Both the Greek and Coptic Orthodox Churches each recognise their own Pope of Alexandria (Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria and All Africa, and Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria respectively), both of whom trace their apostolic succession back to the Mark the Evangelist. [3] There are official ongoing efforts in recent times to heal this ancient breach. Already, the two recognize each other's baptisms, chrismations, and marriages, making intermarriage much easier.

Church of the East

Historically, the Church of the East has traced its episcopal succession to St. Thomas the Apostle. Currently the bishops of the Assyrian Church of the East continue to maintain its apostolic succession.

Anglican Communion

Anglicanism is the most prominent of the Reformation traditions to lay claim to the historic episcopate through apostolic succession in terms comparable to the various Roman Catholic and Orthodox Communions. Anglicans assert unbroken episcopal succession in and through the Church of England back to St. Augustine of Canterbury and to the first century Roman province of Britannia. While some Celtic Christian practices were changed at the Synod of Whitby, the church in the British Isles was under papal authority from earliest times. [4]

The legislation of Henry VIII effectively establishing the independence from Rome of the Church of England, did not alter its constitutional or pastoral structures. Royal supremacy was exercised through the extant legal structures of the church, whose leaders were bishops. Episcopacy was thus seen as a given of the Reformed Ecclesia Anglicana, and a foundation in the institution's appeal to ancient and apostolic legitimacy. What did change was that bishops were now seen to be ministers of the Crown for the spiritual government of its subjects. The influence of Richard Hooker was crucial to an evolution in this understanding in which bishops came to be seen in their more traditional role as ones who delegate to the presbyterate inherited powers, act as pastors to presbyters, and holding a particular teaching office with respect to the wider church.

Paul Kwong, Anglican Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong The Most Reverend Paul Kwong.JPG
Paul Kwong, Anglican Archbishop and Primate of Hong Kong

Anglican opinion has differed as to the way in which episcopal government is de jure divino (by the Divine Right of Kings). On the one hand, the seventeenth century divine, John Cosin, held that episcopal authority is jure divino, but that it stemmed from "apostolic practice and the customs of the Church...[not] absolute precept that either Christ or His Apostles gave about it" (a view maintained also by Hooker). [5] In contrast, Lancelot Andrewes and others held that episcopal government is derived from Christ via the apostles. Regardless, both parties viewed the episcopacy as bearing the apostolic function of oversight, which both includes, and derives from the power of ordination, and is normative for the governance of the church. The practice of apostolic succession both ensures the legitimacy of the church's mission and establishes the unity, communion, and continuity of the local church with the universal church. This formulation, in turn, laid the groundwork for an independent view of the church as a "sacred society" distinct from civil society, which was so crucial for the development of local churches as non-established entities outside England, and gave direct rise to the Catholic Revival and disestablishmentarianism within England.

Functionally, Anglican episcopal authority is expressed synodically, although individual provinces may accord their primate with more or less authority to act independently. Called variously "synods," "councils," or "conventions," they meet under episcopal chairmanship. In many jurisdictions, conciliar resolutions that have been passed require episcopal assent or consent to take force. Seen in this way, Anglicans often speak of "the bishop-in-synod" as the force and authority of episcopal governance. Such conciliar authority extends to the standard areas of doctrine, discipline, and worship, but in these regards is limited by Anglicanism's tradition of the limits of authority. Those limits are expressed in Article XXI of the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, ratified in 1571 (significantly, just as the Council of Trent was drawing to a close), which held that "General Councils...may err, and sometimes have erred...wherefore things ordained by them as necessary to salvation have neither strength nor authority, unless it may be declared that they be taken out of holy Scripture." Hence, Anglican jurisdictions have traditionally been conservative in their approach to either innovative doctrinal development or in encompassing actions of the church as doctrinal (see lex orandi, lex credendi).

Anglican synodical government, though varied in expression, is characteristically representative. Provinces of the Anglican Communion, their ecclesiastical provinces and dioceses are governed by councils consisting not only of bishops, but also representatives of the presbyterate and laity.

There is no international juridical authority in Anglicanism, although the tradition's common experience of episcopacy, symbolised by the historical link with the See of Canterbury, along with a common and complex liturgical tradition, has provided a measure of unity. This has been reinforced by the Lambeth Conferences of Anglican Communion bishops, which first met in 1867. These conferences, though they propose and pass resolutions, are strictly consultative, and the intent of the resolutions are to provide guideposts for Anglican jurisdictions—not direction. The Conferences also express the function of the episcopate to demonstrate the ecumenical and Catholic nature of the church.

The Scottish Episcopal Church traces its history back to the origins of Christianity in Scotland. Following the 1560 Scottish Reformation the Church of Scotland was initially run by Superintendents, episcopal governance was restored in 1572, but episcopalianism alternated with periods when the Kirk was under presbyterian control until the 1711 Act allowed formation of the independent non-established Scottish Episcopal Church. The Nonjuring schism led to the British Government imposing penal laws against the church. In 1784 the Scottish church appointed Samuel Seabury as first bishop of the American Episcopal Church, beginning the worldwide Anglican Communion of churches, and in 1792 the penal laws were abolished. The church accepted the articles of the Church of England in 1804. [6] The spread of increasingly democratic forms of representative governance has its origin in the formation of the first General Conventions of the American Episcopal Church in the 1780s, which established a "House of Bishops" and a "House of Deputies". In many jurisdictions, there is also a third, clerical House. Resolutions may be voted on jointly or by each House, in the latter case requiring passage in all Houses to be adopted by the particular council.

Churches that are members of the Anglican Communion are episcopal churches in polity, and some are named "Episcopal". However, some churches that self-identify as Anglican do not belong to the Anglican Communion, and not all episcopally-governed churches are Anglican. The Roman Catholic Church, the Old Catholic Churches (in full communion with, but not members of, the Anglican Communion), and the Eastern Orthodox churches are recognized, and also their bishops, by Anglicans.

American Methodist churches

As an offshoot of Anglicanism, Methodist churches often use episcopal polity for historical as well as practical reasons, albeit to limited use. Methodists often use the term connexionalism or connexional polity in addition to "episcopal". Nevertheless, the powers of the Methodist episcopacy can be relatively strong and wide-reaching compared to traditional conceptions of episcopal polity. For example, in the United Methodist Church, bishops are elected for life, can serve up to two terms in a specific conference (three if special permission is given), are responsible for ordaining and appointing clergy to pastor churches, perform many administrative duties, preside at the annual sessions of the regional Conferences and at the quadrennial meeting of the worldwide General Conference, have authority for teaching and leading the church on matters of social and doctrinal import, and serve to represent the denomination in ecumenical gatherings. United Methodist bishops in the United States serve in their appointed conferences, being moved to a new "Episcopal Area" after 8 (or 12) years, until their mandated retirement at the end of the quadrenium following their sixty-sixth birthday. [7] British Methodism holds that all ordained ministers are equal in terms of spirituality. However, for practical management lines are drawn into President of Conference, Chair of District, Superintendent Minister, Minister. However, all are ministers.

Episcopal government in other denominations

The Reformed Church of Hungary, and the Lutheran churches in continental Europe may sometimes be called "episcopal". In these latter cases, the form of government is not radically different from the presbyterian form, except that their councils of bishops have hierarchical jurisdiction over the local ruling bodies to a greater extent than in most Presbyterian and other Reformed churches. As mentioned, the Lutheran Church in Sweden and Finland are exceptions, claiming apostolic succession in a pattern somewhat like the Anglican churches. Otherwise, forms of polity are not mandated in the Lutheran churches, as it is not regarded as having doctrinal significance. Old World Lutheranism, for historical reasons, has tended to adopt Erastian theories of episcopal authority (by which church authority is to a limited extent sanctioned by secular government). In the United States, the Lutheran churches tend to adopt a form of government more comparable to congregationalism. A small minority of Episcopal Baptists exists.

Most Anabaptist churches of the plain dress tradition follow an episcopal system, at least in name. Congregational governance is strongly emphasized, and each congregation elects its pastor. Bishops enforce inter-congregational unity and may discipline pastors for breaking from traditional norms.

Although it never uses the term, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) is episcopal, rather than presbyterian or congregational, in the sense that it has a strict hierarchy of leadership from the local bishop/branch president up to a single prophet/president, believed to be personally authorized and guided by Jesus Christ. Local congregations (branches, wards, and stakes) have de jure boundaries by which members are allocated, and membership records are centralized. This system developed gradually from a more presbyterian polity (Joseph Smith's original title in 1830 was "First Elder") for pragmatic and doctrinal reasons, reaching a full episcopacy during the Nauvoo period (1839–1846).

See also

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Full communion is a communion or relationship of full understanding among different Christian denominations that share certain essential principles of Christian theology. Views vary among denominations on exactly what constitutes full communion, but typically when two or more denominations are in full communion it enables services and celebrations, such as the Eucharist, to be shared among congregants or clergy of any of them with the full approval of each.

Patriarch of Antioch is a traditional title held by the Bishop of Antioch As the traditional "overseer" of the first gentile Christian community, the position has been of prime importance in the church from its earliest period. This diocese is one of the few for which the names of its bishops from the apostolic beginnings have been preserved. Today five churches use the title of Patriarch of Antioch: the Syriac Orthodox Church, the Greek Orthodox Church of Antioch, the Syriac Catholic Church, the Melkite Greek Catholic Church, and the Maronite Church. Historically, there has also been a Latin Patriarch of Antioch.

Church of South India union of Anglican and Protestant churches in South India

The Church of South India (CSI) is the second largest Christian church in India based on the number of members and is result of union of Anglican and number of Protestant churches in South India. The Church of South India is the successor of a number of Anglican and Protestant denominations in India, including the Church of England, the British Methodist Church and the Church of Scotland after Indian Independence. It combined the South India United Church ; the then 14 Anglican Dioceses of South India and one in Sri Lanka; and the South Indian District of the Methodist church. With a membership of nearly four million, CSI is one of four united churches in the Anglican Communion, the others being the Church of North India, the Church of Pakistan and the Church of Bangladesh.

Charismatic Episcopal Church

The Charismatic Episcopal Church, more officially known as the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church (ICCEC), is an international Christian denomination established as an autocephalous communion in 1992. The ICCEC states that it is not a splinter group of any other denomination or communion, but is a convergence of the sacramental, evangelical, and charismatic traditions that it perceives in the church from the apostolic era until present times.

Catholicity is a concept pertaining to beliefs and practices widely accepted across numerous Christian denominations, most notably those that describe themselves as Catholic in accordance with the Four Marks of the Church, as expressed in the Nicene Creed of the First Council of Constantinople in 381: "[I believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church."

Conciliarity is the adherence of various Christian communities to the authority of ecumenical councils and to synodal church governance. It is not to be confused with conciliarism, which is a particular historical movement within the Catholic Church. Different churches interpret conciliarity different ways.

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Anglican Communion and ecumenism

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Four Marks of the Church four adjectives—“one, holy, catholic and apostolic”—attributed to the Church according to the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed

The Four Marks of the Church, also known as the Attributes of the Church, is a term describing four distinctive adjectives—"one, holy, catholic and apostolic"—of traditional Christian ecclesiology as expressed in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed completed at the First Council of Constantinople in AD 381: "[We believe] in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic Church." This ecumenical creed is today recited in the liturgy of the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Churches, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Church of the East, the Moravian Church, the Lutheran Churches, the Methodist Churches, the Presbyterian Churches, the Anglican Communion and by members of many Reformed Churches.

Augustana Catholic Church church

The Augustana Catholic Church (ACC), formerly the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church (ALCC) and the Evangelical Community Church-Lutheran (ECCL), is an American church in the Lutheran Evangelical Catholic tradition. The ACC says it is unique among Lutheran churches in that it is of both Lutheran and Anglo-Catholic heritage and has also been significantly influenced by the Roman Catholic Church. The church was founded in 1997 by former members of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. Its headquarters are in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The ACC has long had a policy of seeking union with the Catholic Church and announced in 2011 that it would accept the conditions of Anglicanorum coetibus and join the personal ordinariates as they are established. Later developments on limitations of joining the ordinariate caused the ACC to hold their offer while they established intercommunion with groups such as the Old Roman Catholic Church of North America. The Church claims a membership in excess of 60,000 in 12 countries.

The Ecumenical Catholic Communion (ECC) is an American independent Catholic church. Its members understand themselves as following the Catholic tradition without being in communion with the Bishop of Rome. The ECC is a confederation of independent communities based in the United States and Europe. The membership of the ECC is about 10,000, including seven bishops, and more than 50 communities across 20 states In 2009, the Ecumenical Anglican Church (EAC), an independent church joined the ECC. The ECC is a member of the National Council of Churches (NCC).

The historic episcopate is the understanding that the Christian ministry has descended from the Apostles by a continuous transmission through the episcopates. While other churches have relatively rigid interpretations for the requirements of this transmission, the Anglican Communion accepts a number of beliefs for what constitutes the episcopate.

References

  1. Encyclopedia of Religion and Society, William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor Lutheranism Hartford Institute for Religion Research, Hartford Seminary. Retrieved on September 4, 2006.
  2. Vatican I, Session 4, 1870. Decrees of the First Vatican Council, SESSION 4 : 18 July 1870 - First Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Christ. Daily Catholic Online edition retrieved on September 1, 2006.
  3. Eusebius of Caesarea, the author of an Ecclesiastical History in the 4th century, states that St. Mark came to Egypt in the first or third year of the reign of Emperor Claudius, i.e. 41 or 43 AD. "Two Thousand Years of Coptic Christianity", Otto F.A. Meinardus, p. 28.
  4. Marcus Holden and Andrew Pinsent, The Catholic Gift to Civilisation (London: CTS), p.13ff
  5. Cosin, Works, Vol. IV (Oxford, 1855), p. 402
  6. "History". The Scottish Episcopal Church. 5 November 2013. Retrieved 21 May 2019., detailed history
  7. Still in Production. UMC.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-23.

Further reading