"...Where the Mind is biggest, the Heart, the Senses, Magnanimity, Charity, Tolerance, Kindliness, and the rest of them scarcely have room to breathe..."
What's with the difference in clergy, the different colored shirts, crosses, and "plus" signs? Such have been a few of the questions I have received since my consecration as a bishop last month. Briefly--and I do mean briefly--here are a few words on the matter:
There are three types of clergy in the Charismatic Episcopal Church with all three being ordained ministers; deacons, priests, and bishops. The laity are also ministers by virtue of their baptism. Actually they are THE ministers of the church--the ordained clergy are like the "coaches" with the laity being the "players" on the field and in the game.
Deacons are not to be confused with evangelical protestant deacons. Evangelical protestant deacons, for the most part, are laymen, not ordained clergy, who serve on a "board" and may have other assignments. They are not normally authorized to do priestly or sacramental duties, although good deacons in an evangelical church are a very valuable asset to the pastor and the church.
Our deacons are fully ordained clergy and, under certain circumstances, may marry, bury, be a pastor, serve Eucharist with pre-consecrated elements, counsel, pray, baptize, and assist the priest or bishop, among other duties. Deacons in our communion wear a gray clergy shirt. On Sundays, they wear a stole that is diagonal. Deacons represent the servant heart of Christ. They wear a silver, pewter, or wooden cross on a black cord. Some deacons are "permanent deacons" and will serve God as lifetime servants, usually in one church, unless they move to another location, assisting the priest and bishop. Others deacons feel called to the pastorate and are "transitory deacons" who, one day, may be ordained to the priesthood and will plant a church.
Priests may perform all of the sacraments except confirmation and ordination. They wear a black clergy shirt, although they may also choose to wear gray at times. On Sundays, their stole hangs straight down, hopefully equally, on both sides in the front. They wear a silver cross and chain. Priests represent the father heart of God. A priest may use a cross, or a plus sign, after his name in correspondence, for example, Father John Brown +. The cross indicates that he is a priest. Priests should also be good deacons, as far as their "servant hearts" are concerned.
Bishops may perform all of the sacraments. They wear a purple clergy shirt but--guess what--they may also choose to wear black or gray! Confused yet? They wear a gold cross and chain and wear a ring on their right hand indicative of their office. A bishop is the chief pastor in a diocese and is a pastor to ALL the members of the churches but especially to the deacons and priests. In our communion, bishops who lead a diocese are to be pastors of their own churches--demanding, but good for keeping their feet on the ground and their heads out of the ozone.
The bishop represents the government of God--but he should also be a prime example of a servant and be a good spiritual father. The bishops may use a plus sign, or a cross, in FRONT of their name as in: + John Brown. The cross takes the place of the word "bishop." So, + John means "Bishop John." Deceased believers also have a cross in front of their name in special services such as All Saints Day. So both bishops and deceased people have crosses in front of their names, which says something--I don't know exactly what-- but something.
But the truth is that it's ALL about the High Priest and, if it's not, we are wasting our time. Jesus is the High Priest in the midst of his people and He is the consummate servant, father, and king. Don't get all hung up about this stuff. If you desire to know something, just ask. There are no dumb questions, although I just might give a dumb answer---it's happened before! :o)
On Sundays, I wear a purple "beanie-thingy" called a "zucchetta," not to confused with "zucchini." Actually, it's sort of a "red-purple." A young boy asked me the other week, "Why do you have to wear that pink hat?" "For humility," I said. "For humility."
Anyway, I hope that answers a few of the questions you might have on your mind. If there are any others, let me know! If I have shared any incorrect information, I am certain that someone will correct me--but it's okay. I wear a pink hat and am learning humility.
+ David Epps
IKITSUKI ISLAND, Japan (Reuters) - One by one, the sacred relics -- a medal of the Virgin Mary, a crucifix and other revered objects -- are taken from a cupboard and placed on an altar for a Christmas Eve rite passed down through centuries from Japan's earliest Christians. Then, kneeling in the simple hall built where martyrs are said to have been burned on this tiny, remote island 400 years ago, five elders murmur chants as they bow and make the sign of the cross. The kimono-clad deacons are descendants of "Kakure Kirishitan," or Hidden Christians, who kept their religion alive on Ikitsuki and in other isolated pockets of Japan during 250 years of suppression, adapting their rites to the demands of secrecy and blending them with local beliefs.
First brought to Japan by Portuguese missionaries in 1549, Christianity was banned a few decades later in 1614, initiating a period of bloody persecution that forced the faithful to choose between martyrdom or hiding their beliefs. Medals or hanging scrolls depicting saints and martyrs, often with Japanese features, were hidden in cupboards as "nando-gami" ("gods in the closet") and only taken out on special days. In an apparent echo of the bread and wine of the Eucharist, elders still share sashimi and sake as part of the Christmas Eve and other ceremonies. Huge "mochi" rice cakes adorn the altar. Transmitted orally and in secret, Latin "oratio" chants, "orasho" in Japanese, lost all but symbolic meaning.
"They preserved the style and form of the Christianity that they inherited, but the teachings were no longer from the Bible and changed into respect for local martyrs, so in that sense it can be seen as a Japanese ethnic religion," said Shigeo Nakazono, curator of an island museum who has studied the "Kakure Kirishitan" for years.
When Roman Catholic missionaries returned with the lifting of the ban in 1873, some Japanese Christians accepted their teachings, but others clung to what they saw as the true faith of their fathers. "'Gotanjo' is the day of Christ's birth. That's no different from Christianity," said Yasutaka Toriyama, 68, who holds the hereditary position of "gobanyaku," or head of a household that traditionally held a group's relics, such as scrolls or medals.
"But while ours is a religion that believes in Mary and Christ, we also believe that our ancestors who suffered persecution are gods."
WASHINGTON -- Hispanics are returning to the Democratic Party after several years of drifting toward the Republicans, with many saying Bush administration policies have been harmful to their community, a poll showed Thursday. By 57 percent to 23 percent, more Hispanic registered voters say they favor Democrats than Republicans, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Hispanic Center.
The survey found that among Hispanic registered voters:
• Forty-one percent said Bush administration policies have been harmful to Hispanics, 16 percent said they have been helpful and 33 percent said they have not had much impact.
• Forty-four percent said Democrats have more concern for Hispanics, 8 percent chose Republicans and another 41 percent said there is no difference.
• Forty-one percent said Democrats do a better job of handling illegal immigration, 14 percent named the GOP and 26 percent said neither.
Among Hispanics who are registered Democrats, 59 percent said they want Hillary Clinton to be their party's presidential candidate, followed by 15 percent who prefer Barack Obama. Among Hispanic Republicans, Rudy Giuliani leads Fred Thompson, 35 percent to 13 percent...