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An episcopal polity is a
hierarchical A hierarchy (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , from , 'president of sacred rites') is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) that are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy i ...

hierarchical
form of church governance ("ecclesiastical polity") in which the chief local authorities are called
bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...

bishop
s. (The word "bishop" derives, via the
British Latin British Latin or British Vulgar Latin was the Vulgar Latin spoken in Great Britain in the Roman Britain, Roman and Sub-Roman Britain, sub-Roman periods. While Britain formed part of the Roman Empire, Latin became the principal language of the el ...
and
Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is th ...
term ''*ebiscopus''/''*biscopus'', from the
Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally referred to by speakers simply as Greek (, ), refers collectively to the diale ...
''epískopos'' meaning "overseer".) It is the structure used by many of the major
Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Criticism of the Catholic Church, errors in the Catholic Church. ...

Christian Church
es and
denomination Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu denominations ** Schools of Buddhism, Buddhist denomination * Denomination (currency) * Denomination ( ...
s, such as the
Catholic The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic
,
Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
,
Oriental Orthodox The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings ...
,
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an church of the , based ...
,
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christianity, Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England following the English Reformation. Adherents of Anglicanism are called ''Anglicans''; t ...
, and
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
churches or denominations, and other churches founded independently from these lineages. Churches with an episcopal
polity A polity is an identifiable political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cog ...
are governed by bishops, practising their authorities in the
diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
s and
conference A conference is a meeting A meeting is when two or more people A people is a plurality of person A person (plural people or persons) is a being that has certain capacities or attributes such as reason, morality, consciousness or sel ...
s or
synod A synod () is a council of a Ecclesia (church), church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word ''wikt:synod, synod'' comes from the meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the L ...

synod
s. Their leadership is both
sacrament A sacrament is a Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' and ...
al and constitutional; as well as performing
ordination Ordination is the process by which individuals are , that is, set apart and elevated from the class to the , who are thus then (usually by the composed of other clergy) to perform various religious . The process and ceremonies of ordination va ...

ordination
s,
confirmation In Christian denominations that practice infant baptism Infant baptism is the practice of baptising infants 222x222px, Eight-month-old sororal twin sisters An infant (from the Latin word ''infans'', meaning 'unable to speak' or ...

confirmation
s, and
consecration Consecration is the solemn Solemn may refer to: *"Solemn", a song by Tribal Tech from the album ''Dr. Hee'' 1987 *"Solemn", a song by Arcane Roots from the album ''Melancholia Hymns'' 2017 See also * Solemnity, a feast day of the highest rank i ...

consecration
s, the bishop supervises the
clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over specific rituals and teaching their religion's s and practices. Some of the terms used for ind ...
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 Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followe ...
from the
Twelve Apostles upright=1.35, Jesus and his Twelve Apostles, Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla">Chi_Rho.html" ;"title="fresco with the Chi Rho">Chi-Rho symbol ☧, Catacombs of Domitilla, Rome In Christian theology and ecclesiology, apostles, partic ...

Twelve Apostles
of
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
. Bishops with such authority are said to represent the
historical episcopate The historic or historical episcopate comprises all episcopates, that is, it is the collective body of all the bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entru ...
or historic episcopate. Churches with this type of government usually believe that the Church requires episcopal government as described in the New Testament (se
1 Timothy 3
an
2 Timothy 1
. In some systems, bishops may be subject in limited ways to bishops holding a higher office (variously called
archbishop In many Christian Denominations Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus in Christianity, Jesus Christ. The words ''Christ (title), Christ'' an ...
s,
metropolitan Metropolitan may refer to: * Metropolitan area, a region consisting of a densely populated urban core and its less-populated surrounding territories * Metropolitan borough, a form of local government district in England * Metropolitan county, a type ...
s, or
patriarch The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, ...

patriarch
s, depending upon the tradition). They also meet in councils or
synods A synod () is a council of a church Church may refer to: Religion * Church (building) A church building, church house, or simply church, is a building used for Christian worship services and other Christian religious activities. The t ...
. These gatherings, subject to presidency by higher ranking bishops, usually make important decisions, though the
synod A synod () is a council of a Ecclesia (church), church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word ''wikt:synod, synod'' comes from the meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the L ...

synod
or council may also be purely advisory. For much of the written history of institutional Christianity, episcopal government was the only known form of church organization. This changed at the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Cit ...
. Many
Protestant Protestantism is a form of that originated with the 16th-century , a movement against what its followers perceived to be in the . Protestants originating in the Reformation reject the Roman Catholic doctrine of , but disagree among themselves ...
churches are now organized by either
congregational Congregational churches (also Congregationalist churches; Congregationalism) are Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Crit ...
or
presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
church polities, both descended from the writings of
John Calvin John Calvin (; Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language of the Indo-European family The Indo-European languages are a language fami ...

John Calvin
, a Protestant reformer working and writing independently following the break with the
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
precipitated by
The Ninety-Five Theses The ''Ninety-five Theses'' or ''Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences''-The title comes from the 1569 Basel pamphlet printing. The first printings of the ''Theses'' use an incipit The incipit () of a text is the first few wo ...
of
Martin Luther Martin Luther (; ; 10 November 1483 – 18 February 1546) was a German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citiz ...

Martin Luther
. However some people have disputed the episcopal polity before the reformation, such as Aerius of Sebaste in the 4th century.


Overview of episcopal churches

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 In Christian theology, ecclesiology is the study of the Church (congregation), Church, the origins of Christianity, its relationship to Jesus, its role in salvation, its ecclesiastical polity, polity, its Church discipline, discipline, its escha ...
, that is, their theological understanding of church and church governance. For some, "episcopal churches" are churches that use a hierarchy of bishops who identify as being in an unbroken, personal
apostolic succession Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followe ...
. "Episcopal" is also commonly used to distinguish between the various organizational structures of
denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu denominations ** Schools of Buddhism, Buddhist denomination * Denomination (currency) * Denomination ( ...
. For instance, "Presbyterian" ( el, πρεσβύτερος, presbýteros) is used to describe a church governed by a hierarchy of assemblies of elected
elders An elder is someone with a degree of seniority or authority. Elder or elders may refer to: Positions Administrative * Elder (administrative title), a position of authority Cultural * American Indian elder, a person who has and transmits cul ...
, referred to as
presbyterian polity Presbyterian (or presbyteral) polity is a method of church governance ("ecclesiastical polity") 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 ...
. 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 Congregational churches (also Congregationalist churches; Congregationalism) are Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Crit ...
". More specifically, the capitalized appellation "Episcopal" is applied to several churches historically based within
Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...
("Episcopalianism"), including those still in communion with the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
. Using these definitions, examples of specific episcopal churches include: * The
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
* The
Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
* The
Oriental Orthodox The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity, a monotheistic Abrahamic religion based on the life and teachings ...
churches * The
Assyrian Church of the East The Assyrian Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܖ̈ܝܐ, ʿĒḏtā ḏ-Maḏnḥā ḏ-ʾĀṯūrāyē, ar, كنيسة المشرق الآشورية), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ( sy ...
* The Churches of the
Anglican Communion The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also called the Holy Communion or Lord's Supper), the Christian rite involving the eating of bread and drinking of wine, re ...
* The
Old Catholic The term Old Catholic Church is used from the 1850s by communions which had separated from the Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number ...
churches * Numerous smaller "catholic" churches * Certain national churches of the
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
confession * The
African Methodist Episcopal Church The African Methodist Episcopal Church, usually called the A.M.E. Church or AME, is a predominantly African-American Methodist Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations Denomination ma ...
* The
United Methodist Church The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a worldwide mainline Protestant The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States that contras ...

United Methodist Church
Some
Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Jesus Christ and was founded by Martin Luther, a 16th-century German monk and Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology ...
churches practice congregational polity or a form of presbyterian polity. Others, including the
Church of Sweden The Church of Sweden ( sv, Svenska kyrkan) is an Evangelical Lutheran Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against ...
, practice episcopal polity; the Church of Sweden also counts its bishops among the
historic episcopate The historic or historical episcopate comprises all episcopates, that is, it is the collective body of all the bishops of a church who are in valid apostolic succession. This succession is transmitted from each bishop to their successors by the ri ...
. This is also the case with some American Lutheran churches, such as the Anglo-Lutheran Catholic Church, Lutheran Orthodox Church,
Lutheran Church - International The Lutheran Church - International (LC-I) is an American Christian denomination A Christian denomination is a distinct Religion, religious body within Christianity that comprises all Church (congregation), church congregations of the same kind, ...
, and the
Lutheran Episcopal Communion Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism that identifies with the teachings of Martin Luther, a 16th-century German Protestant Reformers, reformer whose efforts to reform the theology and practice of the church launched the Pro ...
. Many
Methodist Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu d ...

Methodist
churches (the
United Methodist Church The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a worldwide mainline Protestant The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States that contras ...

United Methodist Church
, among others) retain the form and function of episcopal polity, although in a modified form, called
connexionalism Connexionalism, also spelled connectionalism, is the theological Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline An academic discipline or academic ...
. Since all trace their ordinations to an Anglican priest,
John Wesley John Wesley (; 2 March 1791) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which ha ...

John Wesley
, it is generally considered that their bishops do not share in apostolic succession. However, United Methodists 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
Patriarch The highest-ranking bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, ...

Patriarch
s. Writing between ca. 85 and 110, St.
Ignatius of Antioch Ignatius of Antioch (; Greek: Ἰγνάτιος Ἀντιοχείας, ''Ignátios Antiokheías''; died c. 108/140 AD), also known as Ignatius Theophorus (, ''Ignátios ho Theophóros'', lit. "the God-bearing"), was an early Christian writer ...

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 Peter may refer to: People * List of people named Peter, a list of people and fictional characters with the given name * Peter (given name) ** Saint Peter (died 60s), apostle of Jesus, leader of the early Christian Church * Peter (surname), a sur ...

Peter
and
Paul Paul may refer to: *Paul (name), a given name (includes a list of people with that name) *Paul (surname), a list of people People Christianity *Paul the Apostle (AD 5–67), also known as Saul of Tarsus or Saint Paul, early Christian missionar ...
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 The Assyrian Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܖ̈ܝܐ, ʿĒḏtā ḏ-Maḏnḥā ḏ-ʾĀṯūrāyē, ar, كنيسة المشرق الآشورية), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ( sy ...
), though aloof from the political wranglings of imperial Christianity, nevertheless also practiced episcopal polity. Shortly after the Roman Emperor
Constantine I Constantine I ( la, Flavius Valerius Constantinus; ; 27 February 22 May 337), also known as Constantine the Great, was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). Th ...

Constantine I
legalized Christianity in 321, he also constructed an elaborate second capital of the Roman Empire located at
Byzantium Byzantium () or Byzantion ( grc-gre, Βυζάντιον) was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark A ...

Byzantium
and renamed it
Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قسطنطينيه , alternate_name = Byzantion (earlier Greek name), Nova Roma ("New Rome"), Miklagard/Miklagarth (Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germa ...

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 Hilary of Poitiers ( la, Hilarius; ) was Bishop of Poitiers and a Doctor of the Church. He was sometimes referred to as the "Hammer of the Arians" () and the "Athanasius of Alexandria, Athanasius of the West", His name comes from the Latin word ...
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 The Patriarch of Alexandria is the archbishop In many Christian denomination, Christian Denominations, an archbishop (, via Latin ''archiepiscopus'', from Greek language, Greek , from -, 'chief', and 'over'+ 'seer') is a bishop of higher rank ...
, rejected certain Christological dogmas promulgated by the
Council of Chalcedon The Council of Chalcedon (; la, Concilium Chalcedonense; grc-gre, Σύνοδος τῆς Χαλκηδόνος, ''Synodos tēs Chalkēdonos'') was the fourth ecumenical council The Council of Chalcedon (; la, Concilium Chalcedonense; ...
, 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 The primacy of Peter, also known as Petrine primacy (from Latin: ''Petrus'', "Peter"), is the position of preeminence that is attributed to Saint Peter Saint Peter; he, שמעון בר יונה, Šimʿōn bar Yōnāh; ar, سِمعَان بُ ...
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 New Rome (Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as o ...
, 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 The First Council of Constantinople ( la, Concilium Constantinopolitanum; grc-gre, Σύνοδος τῆς Κωνσταντινουπόλεως) was a council of Christian bishops convened in Constantinople la, Constantinopolis ota, قس ...
381, and then ecumenically at the
Council of Chalcedon The Council of Chalcedon (; la, Concilium Chalcedonense; grc-gre, Σύνοδος τῆς Χαλκηδόνος, ''Synodos tēs Chalkēdonos'') was the fourth ecumenical council The Council of Chalcedon (; la, Concilium Chalcedonense; ...
in 451. Beginning with
John the Faster John IV (died September 2, 595), also known as John Nesteutes (, Ioannes the Faster), was the 33rd bishop or Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, Patriarch of Constantinople (April 11, 582 – 595). He was the first to assume the title ''Ecume ...
(John IV, 582–595), the Bishop of Constantinople adopted as a formal title for himself the by then customary honorific
Ecumenical Patriarch The ecumenical patriarch ( el, Οἰκουμενικός Πατριάρχης, translit=Oikoumenikós Patriárchis; tr, Konstantinopolis ekümenik patriği) is the archbishop of Constantinople la, Constantinopolis , alternate_name = Byzant ...
("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 The primacy of Peter, also known as Petrine primacy (from Latin: ''Petrus'', "Peter"), is the position of preeminence that is attributed to Saint Peter Saint Peter; he, שמעון בר יונה, Šimʿōn bar Yōnāh; ar, سِمعَان بُ ...
, 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 Great Schism may refer to: * East–West Schism, between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, beginning in 1054 * Western Schism, a split within the Roman Catholic Church that lasted from 1378 to 1417 See also

* Schism, a divis ...
(marked by two dates: 16 July 1054 and the
Council of Florence The Council of Florence is the seventeenth ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological experts convened to discuss and settle matt ...
in 1439).


Catholic Church

The
Catholic Church The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Catholic Church
has an episcopate, with the
Pope The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as the supreme pontiff () or the Roman pontiff (), is the bishop of Diocese of Rome, Rome, chief pastor of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state o ...

Pope
, who is the
Bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight. Within the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Moravian Chu ...

Bishop
of
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
, 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
apostle An apostle (), in its most literal sense, is an emissary, from Greek ἀπόστολος (''apóstolos''), literally "one who is sent off", from the verb A verb, from the Latin ''wikt:verbum#Latin, verbum'' meaning ''word'', is a word (part o ...

apostle
s. The
See of Rome The Holy See ( lat, Sancta Sedes, ; it, Santa Sede ), also called the See of Rome, is the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is gene ...
, 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 College of Bishops, also known as the Ordo of Bishops, is a term used in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian ...
, 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 In Abrahamic religions, the Holy Spirit is an aspect or agent of God in Abrahamic religions, God, by means of which God communicates with people or acts on them. In Judaism, it refers to the divine force, quality, and influence of God over the ...

Holy Spirit
, through the
laying on of hands The laying on of hands is a religious practice. In Judaism Judaism ( he, יהדות, ''Yahadut''; originally from Hebrew , ''Yehudah'', "Kingdom of Judah, Judah", via Ancient Greek, Greek ''Ioudaismos''; the term itself is of Anglo-Latin ...

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 The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also cal ...
. In Eastern Orthodoxy, all
autocephalous Autocephaly (; from el, αὐτοκεφαλία, meaning "property of being self-headed") is the status of a hierarchy, hierarchical Christian church whose head bishop does not report to any higher-ranking bishop. The term is primarily used i ...
primates A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small Terrestrial animal, ...
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 The Book of Revelation (also called the Apocalypse of John, Revelation to John or Revelation from Jesus Christ) is the final book of the New Testament The New Testament grc, Ἡ Καινὴ Διαθήκη, Transliteration, transl. ; ...
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 ''Primus inter pares'' is a Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power ...
'', the "first among equals" of the autocephalous churches of Eastern Orthodoxy.


Oriental Orthodox churches

The
Oriental Orthodox Churches The Oriental Orthodox Churches are a group of Eastern Christian Eastern Christianity comprises Christian traditions and church families that originally developed during classical and late antiquity in Western Asia Western Asia, also We ...
affirm the ideas of apostolic succession and episcopal government. Within each national Church, the bishops form a holy
synod A synod () is a council of a Ecclesia (church), church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word ''wikt:synod, synod'' comes from the meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the L ...

synod
to which even the Patriarch is subject. The
Syriac Orthodox Church #REDIRECT Syriac Orthodox Church , native_name_lang = syc , image = Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate 2k18.jpg , imagewidth = , alt = Cathedral of Saint George , caption = Cathedral of Sai ...
traces its
apostolic succession Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followe ...
to St. Peter and recognises Antioch as the original See of St. Peter. The
Armenian Apostolic Church , native_name_lang = hy , icon = Armenian Apostolic Church logo.png , icon_width = 100px , icon_alt = , image = Էջմիածնի_Մայր_Տաճար.jpg , imagewidth = 250px , al ...
traces its lineage to the Apostle Bartholomew. The
Indian Orthodox Church The Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (MOSC) also known as the Malankara Church and the Indian Orthodox Church, is an autocephalous Oriental Orthodox church based in Kerala, India India (Hindi: ), officially the Republic of India (H ...
traces its lineage to the Apostle Thomas. The
Ethiopian Orthodox Church The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church ( am, የኢትዮጵያ ኦርቶዶክስ ተዋሕዶ ቤተ ክርስቲያን, ''Yäityop'ya ortodoks täwahedo bétäkrestyan'') is the largest of Eastern Christianity Eastern Christianity compri ...

Ethiopian Orthodox Church
received its lines of succession through the
Coptic Orthodox Church The Coptic Orthodox Church ( cop, Ϯⲉⲕ̀ⲕⲗⲏⲥⲓⲁ ⲛ̀ⲣⲉⲙⲛ̀ⲭⲏⲙⲓ ⲛ̀ⲟⲣⲑⲟⲇⲟⲝⲟⲥ, translit=Ti.eklyseya en.remenkimi en.orthodoxos, lit=the Egyptian Orthodox Church; ar, الكنيسة القبطي ...

Coptic Orthodox Church
in the fifth century. Both the
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
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 The pope ( la, papa, from el, πάππας, translit=pappas, "father"), also known as supreme pontiff ( or ), Roman pontiff () or sovereign pontiff, is the bishop of Rome, head of the worldwide Catholic Church, and head of state or soverei ...
respectively), both of whom trace their apostolic succession back to the
Mark the Evangelist Mark the Evangelist ( la, Marcus; el, Μᾶρκος, Mârkos; Aramaic Aramaic (: ''Arāmāyā''; : ; : ; ) is a language that originated among the in the ancient , at the end of the , and later became one of the most prominent langua ...

Mark the Evangelist
. There are official, ongoing efforts in recent times to heal this ancient breach. Already, the two recognize each other's
baptism Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian rite of initiation, admission and Adoption (theology), adoption, almost invariably with the use of water, into Christianity. It may be pe ...

baptism
s,
chrismation Chrismation consists of the sacrament or mystery in the Eastern Orthodox The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, ...
s, and
marriage Marriage, also called matrimony or wedlock is a culturally and often legally recognized union between people called spouse A religious marriage. A spouse is a significant other Significant other (SO) is colloquially used as a term ...

marriage
s, making intermarriage much easier.


Church of the East

Historically, the
Church of the East The Church of the East ( syc, , ''ʿĒḏtā d-Maḏenḥā''), also called the Persian Church, East Syrian Church, Babylonian Church, Seleucian Church, Edessan Church, Chaldean Church, or the Nestorian Church, was an church of the , based ...
has traced its episcopal succession to St. Thomas the Apostle. Currently the bishops of the
Assyrian Church of the East The Assyrian Church of the East ( syc, ܥܕܬܐ ܕܡܕܢܚܐ ܕܐܬܘܖ̈ܝܐ, ʿĒḏtā ḏ-Maḏnḥā ḏ-ʾĀṯūrāyē, ar, كنيسة المشرق الآشورية), officially the Holy Apostolic Catholic Assyrian Church of the East ( sy ...
continue to maintain its apostolic succession.


Anglican Communion

Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...
is the most prominent of the
Reformation The Reformation (alternatively named the Protestant Reformation or the European Reformation) was a major movement within Western Christianity in Vatican City Vatican City (), officially the Vatican City State ( it, Stato della Cit ...
traditions to lay claim to the historic episcopate through
apostolic succession Apostolic succession is the method whereby the ministry of the Christian Church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followe ...
in terms comparable to the various Roman Catholic and Orthodox Communions. Anglicans assert unbroken episcopal succession in and through the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church Christian Church is a Protestant Protestantism is a form of Christianity that originated with the 16th-century Reformation, a movement against what its followers perceived to be Critic ...
back to
St. Augustine of Canterbury Augustine of Canterbury (early 6th century – probably 26 May 604) was a monk who became the first Archbishop of Canterbury The Archbishop of Canterbury is the senior bishop and principal leader of the Church of England, the symbol ...

St. Augustine of Canterbury
and to the first century
Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and later the Roman Empire. Each province was ruled ...
of
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification upright=0.9, An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Germania.html"_;"title="Sclavinia,_Germania">Sclavinia,_Germania,_Sclavinia,_Germania,_Gallia">Germania.ht ...
. While some Celtic Christian practices were changed at the
Synod of Whitby In the Synod of Whitby in 664, King Oswiu of Northumbria Oswiu, also known as Oswy or Oswig ( ang, Ōswīg) (c. 612 – 15 February 670), was King of Bernicia from 642 and of Kingdom of Northumbria, Northumbria from 654 until his death. He is no ...
, the church in the British Isles was under papal authority from earliest times. The legislation of
Henry VIII Henry VIII (28 June 149128 January 1547) was King of England from 22 April 1509 until his death in 1547. Henry is best known for Wives of Henry VIII, his six marriages, including his efforts to have his first marriage (to Catherine of Aragon ...
effectively establishing the independence from Rome of the Church of England, did not alter its constitutional or pastoral structures.
Royal supremacy The Acts of Supremacy are two acts passed by the Parliament of England The Parliament of England was the legislature A legislature is a deliberative assembly with the authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study o ...
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 Richard Hooker (25 March, 1554 – 2 November 1600) was an English priest A priest is a religious leader authorized to perform the Sacred rite, sacred rituals of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and one or more ...
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 Presbyterium is a modern term used in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3&nb ...
inherited powers, act as pastors to presbyters, and holding a particular teaching office with respect to the wider church. Anglican opinion has differed as to the way in which episcopal government is ''de jure divino'' (by the
Divine Right of Kings In European Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the M ...
). On the one hand, the seventeenth century divine,
John Cosin Entrance to almshouses for 8 paupers established in Durham in 1666 by John Cosin, Bishop of Durham. Arms: See of Durham impaling Cosin John Cosin (30 November 1594 – 15 January 1672) was an English churchman. Life He was born at Norwich N ...
, held that episcopal authority is ''jure divino'', but that it stemmed from "apostolic practice and the customs of the Church ...
ot
ot
absolute precept that either Christ or His Apostles gave about it" (a view maintained also by Hooker). In contrast,
Lancelot Andrewes Lancelot Andrewes (155525 September 1626) was an English bishop and scholar, who held high positions in the Church of England during the reigns of Elizabeth I Elizabeth I (7 September 153324 March 1603) was Queen of England and Ireland ...

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 The Counter-Reformation (), also called the Catholic Reformation () or the Catholic Revival, was the period of Catholic The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number ...
and
disestablishmentarianism Disestablishmentarianism is a movement to end the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is a Christian church which is the established church of England. The archbishop of Canterbury is the most senior clergy, cleric, although the ...
within England. Functionally, Anglican episcopal authority is expressed
synod A synod () is a council of a Ecclesia (church), church, usually convened to decide an issue of doctrine, administration or application. The word ''wikt:synod, synod'' comes from the meaning "assembly" or "meeting" and is analogous with the L ...

synod
ically, although individual provinces may accord their
primate A primate ( ) (from Latin , from 'prime, first rank') is a eutherian mammal constituting the Taxonomy (biology), taxonomic order (biology), order Primates (). Primates arose 85–55 million years ago first from small Terrestrial animal, ...
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 Discipline is action ACTION is a bus operator in , Australia owned by the . History On 19 July 1926, the commenced operating public bus services between Eastlake (now ) in the south and in the north. The service was first known a ...
, 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 The Thirty-nine Articles of Religion (commonly abbreviated as the Thirty-nine Articles or the XXXIX Articles) are the historically defining statements of doctrines and practices of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is ...
of Religion, ratified in 1571 (significantly, just as the
Council of Trent The Council of Trent ( la, Concilium Tridentinum), held between 1545 and 1563 in Trent (or Trento, in northern Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of ...

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 The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion Communion may refer to: Religion * The Eucharist (also called the Holy Communion or Lord's Supper), the Christian rite involving the eating of bread and drinking of wine, re ...
, their ecclesiastical provinces and
diocese In Ecclesiastical polity, church governance, a diocese or bishopric is the ecclesiastical district under the jurisdiction of a bishop. History In the later organization of the Roman Empire, the increasingly subdivided Roman province, prov ...
s are governed by councils consisting not only of bishops, but also representatives of the
presbyterate Presbyterium is a modern term used in the Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, largest Christian church, with approximately 1.3&nb ...
and
laity In religious organizations, the laity consists of all members who are not part of the clergy Clergy are formal leaders within established s. Their roles and functions vary in different religious traditions, but usually involve presiding over ...
. 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 Canterbury (, ) is a City status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, situated in the heart of the City of Canterbury, a local government district of Kent, England. It lies on the River Stour, Kent, River Stour ...
, along with a common and complex liturgical tradition, has provided a measure of unity. This has been reinforced by the
Lambeth Conference The Lambeth Conference is a decennial assembly of bishops of the Anglican Communion convened by the Archbishop of Canterbury. The first such conference took place at Lambeth in 1867. As the Anglican Communion is an international association o ...
s 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 is 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 The Scottish Episcopal Church ( gd, Eaglais Easbaigeach na h-Alba; sco, Scots Episcopal Kirk) is the ecclesiastical province of the Anglican Communion The Anglican Communion is the third largest Christian communion Communion may refer ...
traces its history back to the origins of Christianity in Scotland. Following the 1560
Scottish Reformation The Scottish Reformation was the process by which Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic lang ...
the
Church of Scotland The Church of Scotland (CoS; sco, The Scots Kirk; gd, Eaglais na h-Alba), also known by its Scots language name, the Kirk, is the national National may refer to: Common uses * Nation A nation is a community of people formed on the basis ...

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 Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
control until the 1711 Act allowed formation of the independent non-established Scottish Episcopal Church. The
Nonjuring schism The Non-juring schism was a split in the established churches of England, Scotland and Ireland, following the deposition and exile of James II and VII James II and VII (14 October 1633 O.S.16 September 1701An assertion found in many sources t ...
led to the British Government imposing penal laws against the church. In 1784 the Scottish church appointed
Samuel Seabury Samuel Seabury (November 30, 1729February 25, 1796) was the first American Episcopal bishop A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Clergy#Christianity, Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of a ...
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.
detailed history
/ref> The spread of increasingly
democratic Democrat, Democrats, or Democratic may refer to: *A proponent of democracy Democracy ( gr, δημοκρατία, ''dēmokratiā'', from ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the a ...

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 Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest Christian church, with 1.3 billion baptised Baptism (from the Greek language, Greek noun βάπτισμα ''báptisma'') is a Christians, Christian ...

Roman Catholic Church
, the
Old Catholic Church The term Old Catholic Church is used from the 1850s by communions which had separated from the Roman Catholic Church The Catholic Church, often referred to as the Roman Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number ...
es (in full communion with, but not members of, the Anglican Communion), and the
Eastern Orthodox churches The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-largest Christian church, with approximately 220 million baptised members. It operates as a Communion (Christ ...
are recognized, and also their bishops, by
Anglicans Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...
.


American Methodist churches

As an offshoot of
Anglicanism Anglicanism is a Western Western may refer to: Places *Western, Nebraska, a village in the US *Western, New York, a town in the US *Western Creek, Tasmania, a locality in Australia *Western Junction, Tasmania, a locality in Australia * ...
,
Methodist churches Methodism, also called the Methodist movement, is a group of historically related denominations Denomination may refer to: * Religious denomination, such as a: ** Christian denomination ** Jewish denomination ** Islamic denomination ** Hindu d ...
often use episcopal polity for historical as well as practical reasons, albeit to limited use. Methodists often use the term ''
connexionalism Connexionalism, also spelled connectionalism, is the theological Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an academic discipline An academic discipline or academic ...
'' 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 The United Methodist Church (UMC) is a worldwide mainline Protestant The mainline Protestant churches (also called mainstream Protestant and sometimes oldline Protestant) are a group of Protestant denominations in the United States that contras ...

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 quadrennium following their sixty-sixth birthday.Still in Production
UMC.org. Retrieved on 2013-07-23.
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 church Lutheranism is one of the largest branches of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an , based on the and of . It is the , with about 2.5 billion followers. Its adherents, known as , make up a major ...

Lutheran church
es in
continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', lite ...

continental Europe
may sometimes be called "episcopal". In these latter cases, the form of government is not radically different from the
presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
form, except that their councils of bishops have hierarchical
jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be i ...
over the local ruling bodies to a greater extent than in most
Presbyterian Presbyterianism is a part of the Reformed tradition Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of ...
and other
Reformed churches Calvinism (also called the Reformed tradition, Reformed Christianity, Reformed Protestantism, or the Reformed faith) is a major branch of Protestantism Protestantism is a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, A ...
. 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 The Old World consists of Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent, after Asia in both cases. At about 30.3 million km2 (11.7 million square miles) including adjacent islands, it covers 6% o ...
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 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 "autonomy, autonomous". Its first ar ...
. A small minority of Episcopal Baptists exists. Most Anabaptism, 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, Illinois, Nauvoo period (1839–1846).


See also

*Canon law *Collegiality (Catholic Church) *Conciliarism *Conciliarity *Magisterium


References


Further reading

* * * Fairweather, E. R., and R. F. Hettlinger. ''Episcopacy and Reunion''. First English ed. London: A.R. Mowbray & Co., 1953, cop. 1952. ix, 118 p. ''N.B''.: First published in 1952 by the General Board of Religious Education of the Church of England in Canada, Toronto, Ont. * Swete, H. B., ed. ''Essays on the Early History of the Church and the Ministry'', by Various Authors. London: Macmillan and Co., 1918.


External links


Vatican: The Holy See
Official Website of the Papacy


The Website of the Archbishop of Canterbury
Official Website of the Church of England


United Methodist Council of Bishops
Official Website of the United Methodist Church

By Gregory S. Neal
An Agreed Statement on Conciliarity and Primacy in the Church
by the Orthodox/Roman Catholic Consultation in the United States of America, 1989. {{DEFAULTSORT:Episcopal Polity Episcopacy Episcopacy in Anglicanism Types of Roman Catholic organization Types of Eastern Orthodox organization Episcopacy in the Catholic Church Episcopacy in Eastern Orthodoxy Episcopacy in Oriental Orthodoxy Christian terminology Religious leadership roles Assyrian Church of the East Ecclesiastical polities