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You did not choose me,
but I chose you and appointed you
so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last.
'God is by very nature a missionary God. Mission isn’t an activity that God sets alongside other activities; it’s the very nature of God to reach out to the world in creativity and love,' writes John Pritchard in The Life and Work of a Priest (2007).
It is the vocation of every baptised Christian to join with God in this missionary venture. Some Christians are discerned by the church to be educated and formed to be ordained ministers – deacons, priests and bishops – and will serve the mission of God’s church in a specific way.
The deacon is ordained to a ministry of service to others. All clergy are ordained to the diaconate. There are those whose calling is to a diaconal role in the church and their community and they fulfil this ministry as deacon. A deacon’s ministry is ‘on the edge’, going from the church into the world.
People whose call is to the priesthood will minister as a deacon for some time, and then be ordained as a priest.
A priest is ordained and set aside for ministry within and on behalf of the church. Most priests will minister in a parish setting, whilst others will work in chaplaincy or administrative roles in the church.
Essential to the ministry of priest is presiding at the Eucharist, the meal of the gathered Body of Christ. The priest is also called to preach and teach, baptise and bury, pastoral visiting and administrative tasks.
A diocesan bishop has oversight for all the Anglican Churches in a specific geographic area, a diocese. In the large metropolitan cities, Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, an Archbishop is responsible for the diocese, and may have assistant bishops.
Bishops have care of all the people and clergy in their diocese. They have particular roles, such as confirmations, ordinations and participating in the consecration of other bishops.
Priests and deacons are licenced to their bishop for their ministry, which the license notes ‘is both yours and mine’.
Bishops represent the linking of the local church both with the early church and the apostles appointed by Jesus, and with all other Anglican bishops around the world.
For further information:
Ordination Services, the Making, Ordaining and Consecrating of Deacons, Priests and Bishops, can be found in A Prayer Book for Australia (1995, pp. 780-809).
Exploring Vocations at Wollaston Theological College
by whose Spirit the whole body of your Church
is called into a royal priesthood,
hear our prayer for all members of your Church
that in their vocation and ministry
they may truly serve you,
devoutly love you
and faithfully follow in the way of your Son,
Jesus Christ our Lord.