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The Ceremony for the Ordination of a Bishop (Updated)

The Ceremony for the Ordination of a Bishop (Updated)

By Allan S. Haley
November 30, 2009

From a Report of the Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music, concerning proposed revisions to the Service for the Ordination of a Bishop (BCP, pages 513-19; revisions are given in red):

The Presentation

The bishops and people sit. Representatives of the diocese, both Priests and Lay Persons, standing before the Presiding Bishop, present the bishop-elect, saying

N., Bishop in The Episcopal Church of God, the clergy and people of the Diocese of N., trusting in the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and in our ability to choose the candidate who makes us most comfortable with ourselves, have chosen N.N. to be a bishop and chief pastor. We therefore ask you to lay your hands upon him and in the power of the Holy Spirit to consecrate him a bishop in The one, holy, catholic, and apostolicEpiscopal Church.

The Presiding Bishop then directs that testimonials of the election be read.

When the reading of the testimonials is ended, the Presiding Bishop requires the following promise from the Bishop-elect

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, I, N.N., chosen Bishop of the Church in N., solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, except when they declare things I know to be contrary to our modern experience, and to contain all many things necessary to our collective (and not individual) salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of The Episcopal Church as declared and defined from time to time by her Reverence, our Presiding Bishop.

The Bishop-elect then signs the above Declaration in the sight of all present. The witnesses add their signatures.

All stand.

The Presiding Bishop then says the following, or similar words, and asks the response of the people

Brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, you have heard testimony given that N.N. has been duly and lawfully elected to be a bishop of the Church of God to serve in the Diocese of N. You have been assured us of his suitability and you know that the Church has approved him for this sacred responsibility. Nevertheless, if any of you know any reason why we should not proceed, let it now be made known.

If no objection is made, the Presiding Bishop continues

Is it your will that we ordain N. a bishop?

The People respond in these or other words

That is our will.

Presiding Bishop

Will you uphold N. as bishop?

The People respond in these or other words

We will.

The Presiding Bishop then says

The Scriptures tell us that our Savior Christ spent the whole night in prayer before he chose and sent forth his twelve apostles. Likewise, the apostles prayed before they appointed Matthias to be one of their number. Let us, therefore, follow their examples, and offer our prayers to Almighty God before we ordain N. for the work to which we trust the Holy Spirit has called him.

All kneel, and the Person appointed leads the Litany for Ordinations, or some other approved litany. At the end of the litany, after the Kyries, the Presiding Bishop stands and reads the Collect for the Day, or the following Collect, or both, first saying

The Lord be with you People And also with you.

Let us pray. O God of unchangeable power and eternal light: Look favorably on your whole Church, that wonderful and sacred mystery; by the effectual working of your providence, carry out in tranquillity the plan of salvation; let the whole world see and know that things which were cast down are being raised up, those who were excluded are being included, and things which had grown old are being made new, and that all things are being brought to their perfection by him through whom all many things were made, your Son Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

The Ministry of the Word

Three Lessons are read. Lay persons read the Old Testament Lesson and the Epistle.

Psalm 40 For the music director; by V. Gene, a psalm.

40:1 I relied completely on the Lord,

and he turned toward me

and heard my cry for help.

40:2 He lifted me out of the watery pit,

out of the slimy mud.

He placed my feet on a rock

and gave me secure footing.

40:3 He gave me reason to sing a new song,

praising our God.

May many see what God has done,

so that they might swear allegiance to him and trust in the Lord.

40:4 How blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord

and does not seek help from the proud or from liars.

40:5 O Lord, my God, you have accomplished many things;

you have done amazing things and carried out your purposes for us.

No one can thwart you.

I want to declare them and talk about them,

but they are too numerous to recount.

40:6 Receiving sacrifices and offerings are not your primary concern.

You make that quite clear to me.

You do not ask for burnt sacrifices and sin offerings.

40:7 Then I say,

"Look. I come.

What is written in the scroll pertains to me.

40:8 I want to do what pleases you, my God.

Your law dominates my thoughts."

40:9 I have told the great assembly about your justice.

Look. I spare no words.

O Lord, you know this is true.

40:10 I have not failed to tell about your justice;

I spoke about your reliability and deliverance;

I have not neglected to tell the great assembly about your loyal love and faithfulness.

40:11 O Lord, you do not withhold your compassion from me.

May your loyal love and faithfulness continually protect me.

40:12 For innumerable dangers surround me.

My sins overtake me

so I am unable to see;

they outnumber the hairs of my head

so my strength fails me.

40:13 Please be willing, O Lord, to rescue me.

O Lord, hurry and help me.

40:14 May those who are trying to snatch away my life

be totally embarrassed and ashamed.

May those who want to harm me

be turned back and ashamed.

40:15 May those who say to me, "Aha. Aha."

be humiliated and disgraced.

40:16 May all those who seek you be happy and rejoice in you.

May those who love to experience your deliverance say continually,

"May the Lord be praised."

40:17 I am oppressed and needy.

May the Lord pay attention to me.

1 Timothy 3 Qualifications for Bishops

3:1 This saying is trustworthy: "If someone aspires to the office of bishop, he desires a good work." 3:2 The bishop then must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, [pause for laughter] 3:3 not a drunkard, not violent, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. [Pause for great laughter.] 3:4 He must manage his own household well and keep his children in control without losing his dignity. [Pause for a consecrating bishop to interject: "I'd like to have a word with whoever it was who selected this reading."] 3:5 But if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for the church of God? 3:6 He must not be a recent convert or he may become arrogant and fall into the punishment that the devil will exact. 3:7 And he must be well thought of by those outside the faith, so that he may not fall into disgrace and be caught by the devil's trap. [Wait for laughter to die down before continuing.]

Then, all standing, a Deacon or a Priest reads the Gospel, first saying

The Holy Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to St. Luke. People Glory to you, Lord Christ.

Luke 24 Jesus' Final Commission

24:44 Then he said to them, "These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms must be fulfilled." 24:45 Then he opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures, 24:46 and said to them, "Thus it stands written that the Christ would suffer and would rise from the dead on the third day, 24:47 and repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 24:48 You are witnesses of these things. 24:49 And look, I am sending you what my Father promised. [Pause for consecrating bishop to interject: "That's more like it."] The Sermon

The Sermon is to take as its text the following passage from The Collected Sermons of the Right Rev. Frank Griswold III:

Broadly speaking, the Episcopal Church is in conflict with Scripture. The only way to justify it is to say, well, Jesus talks about the Spirit guiding the church and guiding believers and bringing to their awareness things they cannot deal with yet . . . this has led the church to in effect contradict the words of the Gospel.

After the Sermon, the Congregation sings, to the tune "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God", a this hymn with words by Dr. Louie Crew.

The Examination

All now sit, except the bishop-elect, who stands facing the bishops. The Presiding Bishop addresses the bishop-elect

My brother, the people have chosen you and have affirmed their trust in you by acclaiming your election. A bishop in God's holy Church is called to be one with the apostles in proclaiming Christ's resurrection and interpreting the Gospel, and to testify to Christ's sovereignty as Lord of lords and King of kings.

You are called to guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church; to celebrate and to provide for the administration of the sacraments of the New Covenant; to ordain priests and deacons and to join in ordaining bishops; and to be in all things a faithful pastor and wholesome example for the entire flock of Christ.

With your fellow bishops you will share in the leadership of the Church throughout the world. Your heritage is the faith of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, and those of every generation who have looked to God in hope. Your joy will be to follow him who came, not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.

Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of bishop?

Answer I am so persuaded.

The following questions are then addressed to the bishop-elect by one or more of the other bishops. The ordinand may answer with fingers crossed behind his back.

Bishop Will you accept this call and fulfill this trust in obedience to Christ?

Answer I will obey Christ, and will serve in his name.

Bishop Will you be faithful in prayer, and in the study of Holy Scripture, that you may have the mind of Christ?

Answer I will, for he is my help.

Bishop Will you boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ as you understand it, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of your people?

Answer I will, in the power of the Spirit.

Bishop As a chief priest and pastor, will you encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, nourish them from the riches of God's grace, pray for them without ceasing, and celebrate with them the sacraments of our redemption, making provision for a generous pastoral response to meet the needs of members of this Church? [Here the Bishop may wink twice.]

Answer I will, in the name of Christ, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls. [Winks back.]

Presiding Bishop Will you guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church, and vote to depose whomever I say to depose?

Answer I will, for the love of God.

Bishop Will you share with your fellow bishops in the government of the whole Church; will you sustain your fellow presbyters and take counsel with them, using indaba techniques wherever possible; will you guide and strengthen the deacons and all others who minister in the Church?

Answer I will, by the grace given me.

Bishop Will you be merciful to all, show compassion to the poor and strangers with appropriate placards, take tea with the Queen at Lambeth, and defend those who have no helper?

Answer I will, for the sake of Christ Jesus.

Bishop Will you not obey or enforce the Church's traditional teaching on sexuality?

Answer Of course, otherwise I would not have been elected.

All stand. The Presiding Bishop then says

N., through these promises you have committed yourself to God, to serve this Church in the office of bishop. . . .

The laying on of hands is optional. After a brief benediction, the service concludes, and all may adjourn for sherry.


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