There are three orders of the Sacred Ministry in accordance with the historic practice of the Church right back to the apostolic period. These Orders are Bishops, Priests and Deacons. In no way does this suggest that other work done in the name of Christ and his Church is not ministry, or lacks a sacramental nature, however these three orders are seen as essential to the ministry of the Church.

Matthew 20:25-28

Jesus called them to him and said, ‘You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them.It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’


Last in the order of importance are the Bishops, whose task it is to oversee the work of the Church. The Greek word Episcopos literally means overseer. Bishops are Priests who have been ordered (consecrated) by other Bishops, and so through the laying of of hands this authority tracks us back to the life of the Apostolic Church, and we refer to this as apostolic succession. The Bishop is the symbol of the Unity of the Church, and one of the roles they fulfil is that of Pastor Pastorum (Priest to the Priests of the Diocese).nt.


Next in order is the order of Priests, who are Deacons ordained by a Bishop, and received by the community of priests as a matter of support and collegiality. The work of the Priest is to exercise the Bishop's licence granted to them in the particular area assigned to them, most typically as a Parish Priest or Rector (a Latin word meaning ruler in the sense of drawing straight lines). In the tradition of all the catholic churches including Anglicanism the celebrant of the Eucharist will be in priest's orders (so they may be a Bishop who retains the priestly order). The priest also has a specific responsibility to proclaim the Word of God.


First in order of importance are the Deacons, for their task is to serve, and service is perfect freedom. Deacons are not called to be slaves, they are called to the dignity of service. They are ordained by a Bishop, and their licence will normally be to a specific role, and often assigned to a Priest or a Parish, to proclaim the Gospel, and to seek out the lost, the lonely and the afflicted. The mistaken practice of seeing Deacons as apprentice Priests has led to a number of failings including the mistaken impression the Deacons are not important.