HOLY ORDERS – Answering the call of God in ministry
The sacrament of Holy Orders involves the entire church. The process begins with the local congregation which recognizes and affirms the calling of a candidate into the Holy Priesthood. The calling of the candidate is confirmed only by the Bishop. But it is important to remember that the process of ordination involves the entire church community.
In the Orthodox Church there are three major orders (sometimes called offices), Bishop, Priest, and Deacon. Each order is a specific calling by which the ordained is set apart to perform a special service in the church. Both the Priest and the Deacon act in the name of the Bishop who is the living icon (representative) of Christ. Each member of the clergy performs his/her duties according to the ancient structure of the early church. In Orthodoxy, all who enter into Holy Orders do so by Apostolic Succession. This means that the clergy can trace its lineage back to the Apostles themselves. This aspect of the sacrament of Holy Orders is absolutely essential in the Orthodox Church.