Aviva Directory » Faith & Spirituality » Ordination & Ordainment

The focus of this category is on the process by which a person is consecrated to the ministry, or to ecclesiastical office, whether the process is known as ordination, consecration, holy orders, or something else.

The office, itself, will vary according to the religion, denomination or ecclesiastical body. Whatever the religious office or order, websites that concentrate on the manner in which a person ascends to the position are appropriate for this category, or its subcategories.

The tradition of an ordained clergy may have begun with the orders of monks and nuns in Buddhism. Today, there are three lineages into which one can be ordained according to the teachings of Buddhism. These are the Dharmaguptaka, Mulasarvastivadin, and the Theravada lineages. The ordination procedures are set forth in the Vinaya and Patimokkha or Pratimoksha scriptures.

In the Christian churches, the orders of bishops, presbyters, and deacons form the counterpart of three-fold ministry of the high priest, priest, and Levite defined in the Old Testament.

Ordination is one of seven sacraments in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Anglican churches. Apostolic succession, the belief that ordained clergy is ordained by bishops who were ordained by other bishops, leading back to those who were ordained by one of the Twelve Apostles is an essential component. Only someone who is ordained to the priesthood is eligible to administer certain sacraments.

The details differ somewhat, according to the various denominations, and changes have been made to the ordination procedures over the years.

In the Christian churches, the orders of monks and nuns are religious orders, who may or may not be ordained.

Cardinals are a collegiate body, and not a fourth order beyond that of a bishop. Most cardinals are bishops, although some are priests.

Offices such as pope, patriarch, archbishop, archpriest, archimandrite, and archdeacon are ranks given to ordained people rather than separate orders.

In the Church of England, the diocesan priest who oversees the process of discernment, selection, and training of candidates is known as the Diocesan Director of Ordinands.

Ordination to pastoral offices in the Protestant churches is a rite by which the churches recognize that a person has been called to the ministry by God, and an acknowledgment that the individual has gone through a period of discernment or training related to the call, and authorizes the person to take on the office.

In most, but not all, of the Protestant churches, a person needs to be ordained in order to preside over the sacraments, which usually includes baptism and communion, and may include officiating at weddings and funerals. Ordination is commonly required in order to be installed as a pastor or minister of the church, as well.

Some Protestant churches have other ordained offices as well. Most Presbyterian and Reformed churches ordain pastors, elders, and deacons, although only the office of pastor is considered to be clergy. Methodists also ordain deacons. Other Protestant churches, such as most of the Baptist churches, include the positions of deacon and elder, but they are not ordained offices.

Some Protestant denominations have an office of bishop, but it is not a separate ordination or order. However, some Protestant churches also claim apostolic succession.

Requirements for ordination differ from one Protestant denomination to another. Most require graduation from a Bible College, seminary, or theological graduate school, while others require less formal training for the ministry, and there are some that have no formal training requirements whatsoever. In the Amish churches, for example, ministers are elected from the membership, and receive no training for the ministry at all, nor are they allowed to prepare their sermons in advance.

The Jehovah's Witnesses consider all baptized members to be ordained ministers. Ecclesiastical privilege is asserted only for its appointed elders, but any baptized male may officiate at baptisms, weddings, and funerals.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints performs a rite of ordination to bestow either the Aaronic or Melchizedek priesthood upon male members who are deemed worthy.

In Judaism today, rabbinical ordination refers to the ordination of a rabbi or hazzan. A rabbi is considered a teacher of the Torah, and not a priest.

Muslims do not formally ordain religious leaders, nor does Islam have a formal and separated clergy.

In Wicca, a member's initiation is considered to be an ordination as priest or priestess.

For Unitarian Universalists, ordination is focused on such factors as possessing a Masters of Divinity degree from an accredited institution, rather than on doctrinal adherence.


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