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This article is about a religious bishop. For other uses, see Bishop (disambiguation).
Image:Exhumation of Saint Hubert.jpg
Two bishops assist at the Exhumation of Saint Hubert, who was a bishop too, at the église Saint-Pierre in Liège. By Rogier Van der Weyden, ca. 1437.
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A bishop is an ordained member of the Christian clergy who, in the majority of Christian churches, holds a position of authority.


[edit] Etymology

Image:Mitre (plain).svg
A mitre is used as a symbol of the bishop's ministry in Western Christianity.

Bishop comes from the Greek word episkopos (επίσκοπος, from επι "over" and σκοπος "seeing"). It can be generally translated bishop, overseer, superintendent, supervisor, the first, leader or foreman. From the word episkopos are derived the English words episcopacy, episcopate and episcopal.

[edit] Bishops in the New Testament

The New Testament uses the word episkopos five times.

Words related to episkopos are used in two other verses. Some English Bibles translate this word as bishop (KJV, RSV, NRSV, etc.), while others, attempting to distance themselves from certain types of church hierarchy, use an alternative such as "overseer" (NIV, ESV, etc.).

The ministry of these New Testament episkopoi, according to some writers, was not explicitly commissioned by Jesus Christ as far as the Gospels tell, but appears to be a natural, practical development of the church of the apostles during the first and second centuries AD. Others maintain that the episcopal structure of the Church was present from the beginning, being a direct institution by Jesus, referring to the apostles who clearly lead the first local churches, governed and laid on hands. Supporting this latter view, the portions of the New Testament that mention episkopoi do not appear to be ordering a new type of ministry, but giving instructions for an already existing position within the early Church. In places (particularly in the verses from the Epistle to Titus) it appears that the position of episkopos is often similar or the same as that of presbyter (πρεσβυτερος), or elder and (or) priest. The Epistle to Timothy mentions deacons (διακονοι) in a manner that suggests that the office of deacon differs from the office of the bishop, and is subordinate to it, though it carries similar qualifications.

In the Acts of the Apostles, episkopoi are mentioned as being shepherds of the flock, imagery that is still in use today. The other passages from the New Testament describe them as stewards, leaders or administrators, and teachers. In 1 Timothy episkopoi are required to be 'the husband of but one wife'. It is unclear whether this forbids men who have married a second time in series, or polygamists. However, it is clear that the New Testament has no prohibition against bishops being married and already having children. The most famous example of this is the Apostle Peter himself, who was married and had children. It remains unclear however, whether a kind of celibacy or abstinence had to be practiced by these first bishops and apostles after their appointment or episcopal consecration (see also clerical celibacy).

It is interesting to note that in the second chapter of 1 Peter, Jesus is described as 'the Shepherd and Episkopos of your souls' (τον ποιμενα και επισκοπον των ψυχων υμων).

[edit] Bishops in the Apostolic Fathers

At the turn of the first century AD, the church started to acquire a clear organisation. In the works of the Apostolic Fathers, and Ignatius of Antioch in particular, the role of the episkopos, or bishop, became more important or, rather, already was very important and being clearly defined.

"Plainly therefore we ought to regard the bishop as the Lord Himself" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Ephesians 6:1.
"your godly bishop" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 2:1.
"the bishop presiding after the likeness of God and the presbyters after the likeness of the council of the Apostles, with the deacons also who are most dear to me, having been entrusted with the diaconate of Jesus Christ" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 6:1.
"Therefore as the Lord did nothing without the Father, [being united with Him], either by Himself or by the Apostles, so neither do ye anything without the bishop and the presbyters." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 7:1.
"Be obedient to the bishop and to one another, as Jesus Christ was to the Father [according to the flesh], and as the Apostles were to Christ and to the Father, that there may be union both of flesh and of spirit." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Magnesians 13:2.
"In like manner let all men respect the deacons as Jesus Christ, even as they should respect the bishop as being a type of the Father and the presbyters as the council of God and as the college of Apostles. Apart from these there is not even the name of a church." — Epistle of Ignatius to the Trallesians 3:1.
"follow your bishop, as Jesus Christ followed the Father, and the presbytery as the Apostles; and to the deacons pay respect, as to God's commandment" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnans 8:1.
"He that honoureth the bishop is honoured of God; he that doeth aught without the knowledge of the bishop rendereth service to the devil" — Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnans 9:1.
— Lightfoot translation.

It is clear that, by this period, a single bishop was expected to lead the church in each centre of Christian mission, supported by a council of presbyters (now a distinct and subordinate position) with a pool of deacons. As the Church continued to expand, new churches in important cities gained their own bishop, but churches in the regions around an important city were served by presbyters and deacons from the bishop's city church. Thus, in time, the bishop changed from being the leader of a single church confined to an urban area to being the leader of the churches of a given geographical area.

Clement of Alexandria (end of the 2nd century) writes about the ordination of a certain Zachæus as bishop by the imposition of Simon Peter Bar-Jonah's hands. The words bishop and ordination are used in their technical meaning by the same Clement of Alexandria.<ref>Clem., "Hom.", III, lxxii; cfr. "Strom.", VI, xiii, cvi; cf. "Const. Apost.", II, viii, 36</ref> The bishops in the 2nd century are defined also as the only clergy to whom the ordination to priesthood (presbyterate) and diaconate is entrusted: "a priest (presbyter) lays on hands, but does not ordain." (cheirothetei ou cheirotonei<ref>"Didascalia Syr.", IV; III, 10, 11, 20; Cornelius, "Ad Fabianum" in Eusebius, "Historia Ecclesiastica", VI, xliii.</ref>)

At the end of the 2nd century and the beginning of the 3rd century, we have Hippolytus of Rome describing another feature of the ministry of a bishop, which is that of the "Spiritum primatus sacerdotii habere potestatem dimittere peccata": the primate of sacrificial priesthood and the power to forgive sins.<ref>Bernard Botte, O.S.B., La Tradition apostolique de saint Hippolyte: Essai de reconstitution, LQF 39 (Munster-Westfalen, 1963). English Translation added at website.</ref>

[edit] Bishops and civil government

Patriarch Alexius II of Moscow and All Russia is bishop of the Russian Orthodox see of Moscow. He is seen here with Vladimir Putin.

The efficient infrastructure of the Roman Empire became the template for the organization of the church in the fourth century, particularly after the Edict of Milan. As the church moved from the shadows of privacy into the public forum it acquired land for churches, burials and clergy. In 391, Theodosius I decreed that any land that had been confiscated from the church by Roman authorities be returned.

The most usual term for the geographical area of a bishop's authority and ministry, the diocese, began as part of the structure of the Roman Empire under Diocletian. As Roman authority began to fail in the western portion of the empire, the church took over much of the civil administration. This can be clearly seen in the ministry of two popes: Pope Leo I in the fifth century, and Pope Gregory I in the sixth century. Both of these men were statesmen and public administrators in addition to their role as Christian pastors, teachers and leaders. In the Eastern churches, latifundia entailed to a bishop's see were much less common, the state power did not collapse the way it did in the West, and thus the tendency of bishops acquiring secular power was much weaker than in the West. However, the role of Western bishops as civil authorities, often called prince bishops, continued throughout much of the Middle Ages.

[edit] Bishops ruling temporal states

Main article: prince bishop
The Bishop of Rome for 33 days in 1978: Pope John Paul I received Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger (now: Pope Benedict XVI), who would eventually become his successor's successor as Roman Pontiff.

The most important of these prince bishops was the Pope, who ruled as monarch of the Papal States by virtue of his title as Bishop of Rome. His claim to this fief rested on the forged Donation of Constantine, but in fact his authority over this kingdom in central Italy grew slowly after the collapse of Roman and Byzantine authority in the area. The Papal States were abolished when King Victor Emmanuel II took possession of Rome in 1870 and completed the reunification of Italy. This became a perennial source of tension between the Papacy and the government of Italy. In 1929, Pope Pius XI made a deal with the Fascist government of Benito Mussolini and became the independent sovereign of the Vatican, while giving up any rights to the rest of the former Papal States. He was recognised as an independent monarch by the Lateran Treaties, an authority the current Pope continues to hold. The only other bishop who currently is a head of state is the Bishop of Urgell, a Co-Prince of Andorra.

Three senior bishops served as Electors in the Holy Roman Empire. By the terms of the Golden Bull of 1356, the Archbishops of Mainz, Trier, and Cologne were made permanent electors, who chose the next Holy Roman Emperor upon the death of his predecessor. The Archbishop of Mainz was President of the Electors and Archchancellor of Germany. Likewise, the Archbishop of Cologne was Archchancellor of Italy, and the Archbishop of Trier was Archchancellor of Burgundy. A number of other bishops within the Holy Roman Empire, although not being Electors, were sovereign prince-bishops in their own lands.

[edit] Bishops holding political office

As well as the Archchancellors of the Holy Roman Empire, bishops generally served as chancellors to mediaeval monarchs, serving as head of the justiciary and chief chaplain. The Lord Chancellor of England was almost always a bishop up until the dismissal of Thomas Cardinal Wolsey by Henry VIII. Likewise, the position of Kanclerz in the Polish kingdom was always a bishop until the sixteenth century.

In France before the French Revolution, representatives of the clergy — in practice, bishops and abbots of the largest monasteries — comprised the First Estate of the Estates-General, until their role was abolished during the French Revolution.

The more senior bishops of the Church of England continue to sit in the House of Lords of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, as representatives of the established church, and are known as Lords Spiritual. The Bishop of Sodor and Man, whose diocese lies outside of the United Kingdom, is ex officio a member of the Legislative Council of the Isle of Man. In the past, the Bishop of Durham, known as a prince bishop, had extensive viceregal powers within his northern diocese — the power to mint money, collect taxes and raise an army to defend against the Scots.

Eastern Orthodox bishops, along with all other members of the clergy, are canonically forbidden to hold political office. Occasional exceptions to this rule are tolerated when the alternative is political chaos. A recent prominent example of this was Archbishop Makarios III of Cyprus, who served as President of the Republic of Cyprus from 1960 to 1977.

Image:Pope Pius VII and Cardinal Caprara, legat in the French Empire of Napoleon.jpg
Pope Pius VII, bishop of Rome, in liturgical vestments, next to his Cardinal Caprara. Pius VII signed the Concordat of 1801, illustratory of his important political role.

[edit] Episcopacy during the English Civil War

During the period of the English Civil War (or rather, Civil Wars), the role of bishops as wielders of political power and as upholders of the established church became a matter of heated political controversy. John Calvin formulated a doctrine of Presbyterianism, which held that in the New Testament the offices of presbyter and episkopos were identical; he rejected the doctrine of apostolic succession. Calvin's follower John Knox brought Presbyterianism to Scotland when the Scottish church was reformed in 1560. In practice, Presbyterianism meant that committees of lay elders had a substantial voice in church government, as opposed to merely being subjects to a ruling hierarchy.

This vision of at least partial democracy in ecclesiology paralleled the struggles between Parliament and the King. A body within the Puritan movement in the Church of England sought to abolish the office of bishop and remake the Church of England along Presbyterian lines. The Martin Marprelate tracts, applying the pejorative name of prelacy to the church hierarchy, attacked the office of bishop with satire that deeply offended Elizabeth I and her Archbishop of Canterbury John Whitgift. The vestments controversy also related to this movement, seeking further reductions in church ceremony, and labelling the use of elaborate vestments as "unedifying" and even idolatrous.

King James I, reacting against the perceived contumacy of his Presbyterian Scottish subjects, adopted "No Bishop, no King" as a slogan; he tied the hierarchical authority of the bishop to the absolute authority he sought as king, and viewed attacks on the authority of the bishops as attacks on his own authority. Matters came to a head when King Charles I appointed William Laud as the Archbishop of Canterbury; Laud aggressively attacked the Presbyterian movement and sought to impose the full Anglican liturgy on each church. The controversy eventually lead to Laud's impeachment for treason by a bill of attainder in 1645, and subsequent execution. Charles also attempted to impose episcopacy on Scotland; the Scots' violent rejection of bishops and liturgical worship sparked the Bishops' Wars in 1639-1640.

During the height of Puritan power in the Commonwealth and the Protectorate, episcopacy was abolished in the Church of England in 1649. The Church of England remained Presbyterian until the Restoration of Charles II in 1660.

[edit] Bishops in Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches

Although many Protestant churches have rejected the place of bishops in church leadership, churches rooted in tradition continue to ordain bishops to lead the church. Bishops form the leadership in the Roman Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Oriental Orthodox Churches, the Anglican Communion, and the Independent Catholic Churches.

The traditional role of a bishop is as pastor of a diocese (also called a bishopric, synod eparchy or see). Dioceses vary considerably in their size of area and population. Some dioceses around the Mediterranean Sea which were Christianized early are rather compact; whereas dioceses in areas of rapid modern growth in Christian commitment, as in some parts of Sub-Saharan Africa, South America and the Far East, are much larger and more populous.

One form for the coat of arms of a Roman Catholic bishop.

As well as traditional diocesan bishops, many churches have a well-developed structure of church leadership that involves a number of layers of authority and responsibility.

An archbishop is the bishop of an archdiocese. This is usually a prestigious diocese with an important place in local church history. In the Roman Catholic Church, the title is purely honorific and carries no extra jurisdiction, though most archbishops are also metropolitan bishops. In most provinces of the Anglican Communion, however, an archbishop has metropolitical and primatial power.
Metropolitan bishop
A metropolitan bishop is an archbishop in charge of an ecclesiastical province, or group of dioceses, and exercises some oversight over the other dioceses. Sometimes a metropolitan may also be the head of an autocephalous, sui juris, or autonomous church.
Suffragan bishop
A suffragan bishop is a bishop subordinate to a Metropolitan. In the Roman Catholic Church this term is applied to all non-metropolitan bishops (diocesan and auxiliary bishops). In the Anglican Communion, the term applies to a bishop who is a full-time assistant to a diocesan bishop: the Bishop of Warwick is suffragan to the Bishop of Coventry (the diocesan), though both live in Coventry. Some Anglican suffragans are given the responsibility for a geographical area within the diocese (for example, the Bishop of Stepney is an area bishop within the Diocese of London).
Titular bishop
A titular bishop is a bishop without a diocese. Rather, the bishop is head of a titular see, which is usually an ancient city that used to have a bishop, but, for some reason or other, does not have one now. Titular bishops often serve as auxiliary bishops. In the Ecumenical Patriarchate, bishops of modern dioceses are often given a titular see alongside their modern one (for example, the Archbishop of Thyateira and Great Britain).
Auxiliary bishop
An auxiliary bishop is a full-time assistant to a diocesan bishop (the Roman Catholic equivalent of an Anglican suffragan bishop). Auxiliaries are almost always titular bishops, and are appointed as the vicar general of the diocese in which they serve.Source In the Maronite Church, an auxiliary bishop is often known as a Chorbishop.
Coadjutor bishop
A coadjutor bishop is a bishop who is given automatic right to succeed the incumbent diocesan bishop. The appointment of coadjutors is often seen as a means of providing for continuity of church leadership.
Honorary assistant bishop
This title is usually applied to retired bishops who are given a general license to minister as episcopal pastors under a diocesan's oversight.
A primate is usually the bishop of the oldest church of a nation. Sometimes this carries jurisdiction over metropolitan bishops, but usually it is another honorific. An exarch is like a primate in the Eastern churches. The title Presiding or President Bishop is often used for the head of a national Anglican church, but this title is not usually associated with a particular episcopal see like a primate. The primate of the Scottish Episcopal Church is chosen from among the diocesan bishops, and, while retaining diocesan responsibility, is called Primus.
A cardinal is usually a primate, patriarch or titular bishop within the Roman Catholic Church. But occasionally a cardinal is not a bishop (e.g., Jesuit theologian Henri de Lubac, Jesuit theologian Avery Dulles and a few others). The primary duty of cardinals is to elect the pope.
Major archbishop
Major archbishops are the heads of some of the Eastern Rite Catholic Churches. Their authority within their sui juris church is equal to that of a patriarch, but they receive fewer ceremonial honors.
Catholicoi are the heads of some of the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, roughly similar to a Catholic major archbishop.
Image:Russian Orthodox Episcopal Ordination.jpg
Patriarch Alexius II of Moscow and All Russia consecrating a Russian Orthodox diocesan bishop. Ordination of a bishop, and thus continuation of apostolic succession, takes place through a ritual centered on the imposition of hands and prayer.
Patriarchs are the heads of certain ancient autocephalous or sui juris churches. Some of these churches call their leaders Catholicos; the patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Alexandria, Egypt, is called Pope. While most patriarchs in the Roman Catholic Church have jurisdiction, all Latin Rite patriarchs, except for the Pope, are honorary.

Bishops in all of these communions are ordained by other bishops. Depending on the church, there need to be two or three bishops for validity (sacramental) or legality (liceity). Roman Catholic doctrine holds that any bishop, even one, can validly ordain another male (priest) as a bishop.

Apart from the ordination, which is always done by other bishops, there are different methods in different churches as to the actual choosing of a candidate for ordination as bishop. In the Roman Catholic Church today, the Congregation for Bishops oversees the selection of new bishops with the approval of the Pope. Most Eastern Orthodox churches allow varying amounts of more or less formalized laity and/or lower clergy influence on the choice of bishops.

Only a bishop can ordain a bishop, priest, or deacon.

In the Eastern liturgical tradition, a priest can celebrate the Divine Liturgy only with the blessing of a bishop. An antimension signed by the bishop is kept on the altar partly as a reminder of whose altar it is and under whose omophorion the priest at a local parish is serving.

Image:Confirmation VanderWeyden.jpg
A bishop administering Confirmation. Rogier van der Weyden, The Seven Sacraments, 15th century.
In the Latin Rite of the Roman Catholic Church the administration of Confirmation is normally reserved to the local bishop.

The Pope, in addition to being the Bishop of Rome and head of the Roman Catholic Church, is the Patriarch of the Latin Catholic Church. Each bishop within the Latin Catholic Church is only answerable directly to the Pope and not any other bishop except to metropolitans in certain oversight instances.

In the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches and the Anglican Communion, the cathedral of a diocese will have a special chair set aside for the exclusive use of the bishop. This is the bishop's cathedra, which is often called the bishop's throne. In some other Christian denominations, other churches besides the cathedral will maintain a chair for the use of a Bishop when he visits their parish.

Catholic, Anglican, and Orthodox Christian bishops claim to be part of a continuous sequence of ordained bishops since the days of the apostles, the apostolic succession. Since Pope Leo XIII issued the bull Apostolicae Curae in 1896, the Roman Catholic Church has insisted that Anglican orders are invalid because of that church's changes in the ordination rites. The Roman Catholic Church does recognize as valid (though illicit) ordinations done by breakaway Roman Catholic, Old Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox bishops, and groups descended from them, so long as the people receiving the ordination conform to other canonical requirements and as long as an orthodox rite of episcopal consecration, expressing the proper functions and sacramental status of a bishop, is used; this gives rise to the phenomenon of episcopi vagantes. Roman Catholics recognize the validity of bishops of Eastern Orthodox, Independent Catholic, Old Catholic, Oriental Orthodox and Assyrian Nestorian churches.

Some provinces of the Anglican Communion have begun ordaining women as bishops in recent decades. The first woman ordained a bishop was Barbara Clementine Harris, who was ordained to the Anglican episcopate in 1989.

[edit] Bishops in other churches

Some other churches, such as Lutherans, Methodists and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon), also have bishops, but their roles differ significantly from the Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican ones.

[edit] Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the largest Lutheran denomination in the United States, and based largely on the Nordic Lutheran state churches (similar to that of the Church of England), bishops are elected by synod councils, consisting of both lay members and clergy, for a term of 6 years, which can be renewed, depending upon the local synod's "constitution" (which usually mirrors that of the national ELCA constitution). Since a 1999 Concordat with the Episcopal Church, they have been ordained in the historic episcopate of apostolic succession, by the laying on of hands of other bishops whose line passes back to the apostles, including Episcopal bishops and Lutheran bishops from church branches in apostolic succession. <ref>[1] "Called to Common Mission," 1999. viewed 9/29/2006</ref><ref>[2] Wright, J. Robert, "The Historic Episcopate: An Episcopalian Viewpoint," Lutheran Partners, March / April 1999 — Volume 15, Number 2, viewed 9/29/2006</ref> Currently, they are responsible for, since going into ecumenical communion with the Episcopal Church in the United States, ordaining of all pastors, consecrating of all diaconal ministers, giving approvals to "roster" all current pastors (pastors are called by local congregations, like that of the Episcopal Church), and upholding the teachings of Luther, the ELCA and synod constitutions. The Presiding Bishop of the ELCA, the national bishop, is elected for a single 6-year term, and handles all episcopal consecrations, as well as presiding at the General Assembly, which is held every 2 years. A similar structure exists with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCC), except that its bishops cover entire provinces (ELCA synods are usually metropolitan in structure).

[edit] United Methodist Bishops

Thomas Bickerton, United Methodist Bishop for Western Pennsylvania

In The United Methodist Church, bishops serve as administrative and pastoral superintendents of the church. They are elected for life from among the ordained elders (Presbyters) by vote of the delegates in regional (called Jurisdictional) conferences, and are consecrated by the other bishops present at the conference through the laying on of hands. In The United Methodist Church Bishops are not ordained as Bishops but, rather, remain members of the "Order of Elders" while being consecrated to the "Office of the Episcopacy." Within The United Methodist Church only bishops are empowered to consecrate bishops and ordain clergy. Among their most critical duties is the ordination and appointment of clergy to serve local churches as pastor, presiding at sessions of the Annual, Jurisdictional, and General Conferences, providing pastoral ministry for the clergy under their charge, and safeguarding the doctrine and discipline of the Church. Furthermore, individual bishops, or the Council of Bishops as a whole, often serve a prophetic role, making statements on important social issues and setting forth a vision for the denomination, though they have no legislative authority of their own. In all of these areas, United Methodist Bishops function very much as Bishops in the historic meaning of the term. In each Annual Conference, United Methodist bishops serve for four year terms, and may serve up to three terms before either retirement or appointment to a new Conference. United Methodist bishops may be male or female, with the Rev. Marjorie Matthews being the first woman to be consecrated a bishop in 1980.

John Wesley consecreated Thomas Coke a "General Superintendent," and directed that Francis Asbury also be consecrated for the United States of America in 1784, where the Methodist Episcopal Church first became a separate denomination apart from the Church of England. Coke soon returned to England, but Asbury was the primary builder of the new church. At first he did not call himself bishop, but eventually submitted to the usage by the denomination.

Notable bishops in United Methodist history include Coke, Asbury, Richard Whatcoat, Philip William Otterbein, Martin Boehm, Jacob Albright, John Seybert, Matthew Simpson, John Stamm, William Ragsdale Cannon, Marjorie Matthews, Leontine T. Kelly , William B. Oden, Ntambo Nkulu Ntanda, Joseph Sprague, William Willimon, and Thomas Bickerton.

Methodists in the United Kingdom acquired their own bishops early in the nineteenth century, after the Methodist movement in Britain formally parted company with the Church of England. The position no longer exists, however, in British Methodism.

[edit] Christian Methodist Episcopal Church

In the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, bishops are administrative superintendents of the church; they are elected by "delegate" votes for as many years deemed until the age of 74, then he/she must retire. Among their duties, are responsibility for appointing clergy to serve local churches as pastor, for performing ordinations, and for safeguarding the doctrine and discipline of the Church. The General Conference, a meeting every four years, are comprised of an equal number of clergy and lay delegates. In each Annual Conference, CME bishops serve for four year terms. CME Church bishops may be male or female.

[edit] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Bishop is the leader of a local congregation, called a ward. As such, it is his duty to preside at sacrament meetings, call local leaders, and participate in one-on-one worthiness interviews with his ward members for things such as priesthood ordination, temple recommends and confession. While it is believed that the bishop is a "common judge," that he has both the right and ability to receive divine instruction in the form of revelation for the ward under his direction, and that he can help persons through the repentance process, he is not thought to be a gateway through which an individual church member must pass to gain access to God. Rather, the individual is responsible for their own personal relationship with God through prayer and study, and each person has the ability to receive inspiration and revelation for themselves through the Holy Spirit

Bishop is an office of the Aaronic Priesthood; in addition to his ward responsibilities, it is a bishop's duty to preside over the priest's quorum. Responsible for the physical welfare of the ward, he collects tithing and fast offerings and distributes financial assistance where needed. Charity is believed to be "The Pure Love of Christ".

A bishop is chosen from members of the local congregation by the stake presidency and called by receiving a letter from the President of the church. After being called, he chooses his two counselors, and the three men together form a bishopric. Like almost all positions in the LDS Church, bishops are not paid or reimbursed financially for their services and therefore have normal full-time jobs to provide for their families. There are many callings in the ward. Every worthy member of the ward is asked to help the Bishop. Also, a ward member may decide that professional help is necessary and the LDS Church's Family Services department can be asked to assist a Bishop in keeping his ward members well.

Although a bishop is the spiritual leader of a ward, he is also considered to be the servant to all of the people that he serves. From the Bible, "And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant"[3] or "And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all."[4]

A bishop is typically released from his calling by the stake presidency after about five years and a new bishop is called to the position. After being released, a bishop is usually still referred to by the title "Bishop" by the people he served as a show of respect for his service.

[edit] New Apostolic Church

The New Apostolic Church (NAC) knows 3 classes of ministries: Deacons, Priests and Apostles. The Apostles, all conclused in the apostolate with the Chief Apostle as head, are the highest ministries.

Of the several kinds of priest-ministries, the bishop is the highest one. Nearly all bishops are set in directly from the chief apostle. They support and help their superior apostle.

[edit] The Pentecostal Church of God

In 2002, the general convention of the Pentecostal Church of God came to a consensus to change the title of their overseer from General Superintendent to Bishop. The change was brought on because internationally, the term Bishop is more commonly related to religious leaders than the previous title.

The title Bishop is used for both the General (International leader) and the district (state) leaders. The title is sometimes used in conjunction with the previous thus becoming General (District) Superintendent/Bishop.

[edit] Others

In some smaller Protestant denominations and independent churches the term bishop is used in the same way as pastor, to refer to the leader of the local congregation who may be male or female. This usage is especially common in African American churches in the USA. In the Church of Scotland, which has a Presbyterian church structure, the word "bishop" refers to an ordained person, usually a normal parish minister, who has temporary oversight of a trainee minister.

[edit] See also

[edit] Pop culture

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a fanciful sketch in which an Anglican bishop doubled as a Peter Gunn-style private detective.
  • In the Suikoden RPG game series by Konami, the title "Bishop" is given to religious/political leaders and army generals of the theological Kingdom of Holy Harmonia. The Harmonian head-of-state is known as the "Chief Bishop," a title currently held by Hikusaak.

[edit] References and resources

[edit] Footnote


[edit] Print

  • Ignatius of Antioch, Epistles of to the Ephesians, Magnesians, Trallesians, and Smyrnans, Lightfoot, trans., Harmer, ed. (Kessinger, 1891/2003). ISBN 0-7661-6498-5
  • Mathews, James, Set Apart To Serve: The Role of the Episcopacy in the Wesleyan Tradition (Nashville: Abingdon, 1985).
  • Moede, Gerald, The Office of Bishop in Methodism: Its History and Development (Nashville: Abingdon, 1965).

[edit] Online

br:Eskob bg:Епископ ca:Bisbe cs:Biskup da:Biskop de:Bischof el:Επίσκοπος es:Obispo eo:Episkopo fr:Évêque gd:Easbaig ko:주교 hr:Biskup id:Uskup is:Biskup it:Vescovo he:בישוף ka:ეპისკოპოსი la:Episcopus lb:Bëschof li:Biesjop hu:Püspök nl:Bisschop ja:司教 no:Biskop nn:Biskop pl:Biskup pt:Bispo ru:Епископ sq:Ipeshkvi ru-sib:Епископ simple:Bishop sk:Biskup sl:Škof sh:Biskup fi:Piispa sv:Biskop vi:Giám mục uk:Єпископ zh-yue:主教 zh:主教


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