by Metropolitan Maximos (Aghiorgoussis), Th. D


Orthodox Christianity embraces and synthesizes many dichotomies and antitheses. These seemingly bi-polar conditions are transcended by the physical and spiritual dimensions of our understanding of church, "ἐκκλησία." They also serve as rallying points for divergent opinions among persons moved to feel that their personal understanding of Christ's living church is clearer than the age-old conciliar consensus of its ordained ministers. From the church's beginning, the contradictions embraced by the church read like a list of paired oppositions that we assume are in constant tension and conflict. "Clericalism" versus "laicism," "hierarchy" versus "democracy," "charisma" versus "autocracy," the church as "institution" versus the church as "communion" (κοινωνία) are some of the terms which are used to describe the tensions that have sometimes been manifest between clergy and laity. One could say that Christological concerns, historical and structural in nature, are often in opposition with Pneumatological concerns which are charismatic and eschatological in nature. Historically, both lay and clergy alike have been caught up in conflicts framed by these broad categories. Yet, the Eucharistic understanding of the church as communion transcends all these dichotomies and polarizations. (1)

Recently, newly-formed lay organizations accuse the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America of the "heresy of clericalism."(2) Lay persons call upon the Holy Spirit, Who together with what they call the "People of God" are said to be in charge of the affairs of the church. (3) It is to this amorphous lay organization that the church and its hierarchy are to be responsible. Laying aside for the moment the mandate of leadership that these persons claim, their politicized positions raise difficult questions such as: Who is this "People of God"? Is the "hierarchy" excluded from being a part of the "People of God"? In view of the fact that the hierarchy of the church of Christ is ordained by the Holy Spirit to mediate between God and humanity, what is the proper place in the life of the church of "lay organizations"? When these organizations are created outside the spiritual framework of church governance, how are we to understand their oppositional nature towards the church's hierarchy?

In order to answer these questions, it is necessary to ask them in the light of Orthodox Ecclesiology. This brief study will present Scriptural evidence regarding the life and structure of the church from its very beginnings. It will examine developments in the early church which established the Orthodox way of being, living, and serving as church of Christ. It will compare the Orthodox way with the non-Orthodox, pointing to the problem that indigenous "American Christian Churches" models of polity have infiltrated the attitudes of Orthodox laity. Finally, it will evaluate the presence and function of today's "para-ecclesiastical" lay organizations, and offer some suggestions regarding the solution of what many see as a developing crisis.


The people of God who were condemned by God in Hosea as "Not my People" (Hosea 1:8), were eventually forgiven for their apostasy. The Lord said: "I will have pity on Not Pitied, and I will say to Not my People "'You are my people'; and he shall say, 'Thou art my God.'" (Hosea 2:23). Also, God's promise given to Moses for this same people establishes the changed nature of those who become citizens of God's community: "You shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6). It is the Lord Himself who has chosen the people. Isaiah quotes the Lord saying of this people that it is God's "chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself, that they might declare my praise" (Isaiah 43:21).

These Old Testament statements apply in a prophetic way to Christ and the new people which God called through Him out of the Jews and from the Gentiles. This is the new Israel of God, the people of the New Covenant. The Anointed of God, Who came to fulfill the Old Testament promises, brings to the people a messianic, eschatological salvation through the outpouring and power of God's Spirit. This not only restores God's people as being "His," but also establishes God's Holy Kingdom of Light on earth and in heaven, a reality which was the goal of the coming of the Messiah. Thus, Saint Peter can tell the addressees of his first letter, "the Exiles of Diaspora" of North Asia Minor: "But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's own people, that you may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were no people but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy" (I Peter 2:9-10).

This chosen people of God, both old and new Israel, the church, is a structured community: it is a "royal priesthood" or a "kingdom of priests" which includes its leaders established for it by God. In the Old Dispensation, Moses and Aaron respectively represented the "royal" and "priestly" leadership. This leadership changed forms and structures according to the needs of God's chosen people. However, the people were never left without appropriate leadership, a leadership that was set apart to minister to those who were themselves set apart from the rest of the nations. As we will see later, the community elders during the time of Christ formed the pattern of leadership which was most probably adopted by the early church during the apostolic and the immediate post-apostolic times.

In establishing the church as the eschatological community, God's inaugurated Kingdom on earth, Christ places the foundation of this community squarely upon His Twelve Apostles. He builds it upon "the foundation of the apostles and the prophets" while He is Himself the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20; cf. Matthew 16:18, and Revelation 21:14). The ministry of the Twelve, foundational for the church, established the pattern of church governance. The life and witness of the church to this day is based upon apostolic faith, life and witness.

To the Twelve, Christ gives special powers, such as the power to heal and cast out demons (Matthew 10:1). Both of these acts, the result of God's power invested in His appointed ministers, were signs of the presence of the Kingdom. Unique authority pertaining to the Kingdom already present was given to the Disciples to forgive sins (Matthew 18:18; John 20:22-23), and to celebrate the Eucharist in His memory (I Corinthians 11:25-26); Christ commissions them to announce the Gospel of the Kingdom (Acts 28:31), to "teach all nations, baptizing them in the name" of the Holy Trinity (Matthew 28:19-20), and thereby making citizens of God's Holy Kingdom. Ultimately, Christ calls the Twelve to participate in the eschatological judgement,"sitting upon twelve thrones and judging the twelve tribes of Israel" (Matthew 19:28).

Of paramount importance to the life and salvation of the community of the new chosen people is the Eucharist. The Eucharist is not just a "mystery" (sacrament) in the church, but the central "mystery"and sacrament of the church, the "mystery" and sacrament of the Kingdom revealed. God's eschatological Kingdom breaks through and is actually present at the Eucharist. Here the Royal Spirit makes Christ the Lord of Glory present in the consecrated community and in the consecrated gifts. By this act the church proclaims Christ's death and resurrection "until He comes again" (I Corinthians 11:26).

In all these ecclesiological statements three major Scriptural images apply to the church. They are the people of God, the body of Christ, and the temple of the Holy Spirit. These indicate the dynamic of membership in the church. There is differentiation within the membership, for the people of God is a structured people; the body of Christ is differentiated in its members; the temple of the Holy Spirit is also built by a variety of members who are "living stones" (I Peter 2:5). To each member a variety of gifts are given by the one and same Spirit of God (I Corinthians 12:4). Among this variety of gifts is the unique gift of apostleship, an eschatological gift of paramount importance for the life and mission of the church as proclaimed by Christ Himself.

Contemporary biblical scholarship states that the Twelve were basically residential church leaders. In spite of the mandate they received to announce the Gospel to the world, they made it their concern to tend to the needs of the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24). Hence, Raymond Brown sees them as probably having stayed within the confines of Jerusalem. (4)

However, along with Saint Peter for whom there are Scriptural references indicating that he visited Antioch (Galatians 2:11) and eventually Corinth (I Corintians 1:12; 9:5), church Tradition establishes that all the Twelve apostles are linked with the creation of specific geographic communities. However, they were not administrators and did not ever abandon their responsibility to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom. Certainly, they were not "bishops." The expression "apostolic succession of bishops" is an obvious anachronism, one that comes to us from the period immediately following the missionary period of the disciples, the time of the Apostolic Fathers. The Apostolic Fathers came after the Apostles, having been taught by them. The Twelve felt the need for the appointment of able administrators to do the administrative work of the church. Some examples during the apostolic period were the "Seven Deacons" (Acts 6:5-6) for the Hellenistic Jewish community of Jerusalem, and the "elders" which were associated with the Twelve (Acts 11:30, 15:4) for the Hebrew community.

Not everything in the ministry of the Twelve was meant to be transferable to their "successors." The privilege of the Twelve to be judges of the twelve tribes of Israel in the eschatological Kingdom is the most obvious example of the uniqueness of the ministry of the Twelve. That which was transmitted was apostolic faith, teaching, life and mission in the life of the apostolic community. Apostolic succession is the continuation of apostolic faith, life and witness from the apostolic community to the post-apostolic community of the early Christian church and beyond. It is a succession of community to community, and not merely a succession of person to person (Apostles to bishops). What was transferred was participation in God's Holy Kingdom anticipated on earth. The Twelve supervised a variety of ministries which served the mission of expanding the Kingdom.

A variety of ministries continued through time in a variety of ways. These ministries come to us through the Twelve. Scholars sometimes speak of apostolic ministry as "polycentric" versus "monocentric" ministry. Later, the authority transferred from the Twelve to their successors became more codified, associated with an individual whose authority was demonstrably descended from Apostolic ministry.

Along with the Twelve, there were also apostles like Paul, "missionary apostles." Their task was to establish Christian communities and appoint appropriate leadership (elders), through the "laying on of hands" (I Timothy 4:14; II Timothy 1:6).

Following the apostolic period, that is the ministries of the Twelve and the missionaries of their time, an intermediate group of leadership developed in the church. This intermediate group was that of the elders/overseers (presbyters/bishops). At this time, presbyters and overseers are interchangeable. The elements of this composition most probably came from the leadership structure of Jewish religious communities of the period. In these, the elders (zekenim) exercised administrative leadership functions, whereas, a supervisor (pakid), as in the Qumran community, exercised a pastoral role. (5) This group of elders/overseers prepared the road for the Ignatian type of leadership.

The twofold ministry (presbyter/bishops and deacons) of the end of the apostolic period was followed by a distinctly threefold model of ministry and church governance. By the time of St. Ignatios of Antioch (died A.D. 110), a clear distinction was introduced between bishop (overseer) and presbyter (elder). As evidenced in the writings of Saint Ignatios of Antioch, from this time on the model structure of church governance is that of bishops, presbyters and deacons serving the Holy People of God.

In Saint Ignatios' letters, the bishop emerges as a central figure, surrounded by his presbytery and the diaconate. The bishop is a living icon, a representation of Christ, through whom Christ is present and presides over the one Eucharist of the church. The rest of the Holy People of God, the presbytery, diaconate and the laity assist at the celebration. Thus, the Eucharist becomes the "mystery" (sacrament) of the Church around which the citizens of God's Kingdom are gathered. It is here that through the power of God's Holy Spirit the entire eschatological community, the church, is gathered in communion with God, united as one in the body of Christ.

The so-called "monarchical episcopate," wrongly attributed to the Antiochian bishop-martyr, is not the creation of Saint Ignatios. The vision of Saint Ignatios was characterized by its collegiality. Clergy and laity alike participate in the one mystery of God's shared love. Church government and leadership are participatory. The responsibility of the various authorities and ministries passed on by the Apostles was a shared gift among the People of God. St. Ignatios shares his responsibility of leading the church with his presbytery and his diaconate. One of the images which he uses to explain his relationship with his presbytery, is that of a lyre and its strings. Both the lyre and its strings are needed to produce music. The lyre is the bishop, and the strings are the presbytery.

In the Ignatian model, the bishop's ministry, as that of the apostle of the previous century, is an echatological and eucharistic ministry. As an extension of this ministry, the bishop is also a teacher and administrator. He is the chief administrator because he presides over the one Eucharist of the church, the Eucharist which is the church.

The Orthodox Church has never lost sight of this Ignatian view of the eucharistic episcopate as the visible sign and the perfect guarantee of the unity of the church as the charismatic eschatological community. During the imperial period, the institution of the church experienced substantive changes.


Following the Edict of Milan (A.D. 313), as Christianity grew and with the Roman Empire's acceptance of the Faith as its official religion, the scale of church administration changed dramatically. Whereas the Ignatian model had a bishop at the center of each Eucharistic assembly, the geometric growth of Christianity made the local model of a bishop at every Eucharistic table unmanageable. Also, a centralized ecclesiastical administration developed in conjunction with the civil authority of the Empire.

Thus, in the fourth century of the Christian era, the eschatological/eucharistic model of the bishop as illustrated by the Ignatian model changed dramatically. There developed a reversal of roles between the bishop and the presbyter. According to the Ignatian model, the bishop is the only one to preside over the one Eucharist of the church. The presbytery and the diaconate, as well as the lay people assist in this, as they assist in the other tasks of the church's mission (teaching and administering).

The departure from this Ignatian model is that the bishop ceases to be the only one who presides over the one Eucharist of the church. The need to celebrate the Eucharist in a greater number of smaller communities was felt. Presbyters were also allowed to celebrate the Eucharist alone. Bishops took on a greater administrative role and teaching role in conjunction with the increasingly complex relationship between the church and the state.

There were two inevitable consequences of the aforementioned developments. First, the presbytery lost its function as the "right hand of the bishop." Because of this, they also lost some of the close, collegial relationship with the bishop and with their fellow presbyters. This was a relationship which they had enjoyed before this time. Second, the presence of the bishop at the Eucharist became optional, perhaps even superfluous. As we will see, the extension of this attitude becomes even more damaging to the Episcopal ministry during the time of the sixteenth century "Reformation."

Some interesting developments which resulted from the changes indicated above give a picture of the ideas which continued to inform the relationship between bishop and presbyters. In the West, the bishops were giving the Fermentum (basically Presanctified Gifts) for the priests to use at their eucharistic celebrations. In the East, the priests can only celebrate on the linen Antimensium consecrated by the bishop and bearing his signature, and are bound to commemorate their canonical bishop's name at the Eucharist. Both of these developments came about because of the need to validate the actions of priests in the light of their more distant relationship to their bishops. These examples do show that the bishop is still in charge of the one Eucharist of the church in his diocese.


Saint Clement of Rome was the Apostolic Father who introduced the so-called "linear" apostolic succession from the college of the Twelve Apostles to the bishops of the church. The Ignatian understanding, being eschatological/eucharistic, informs the prevailing understanding of this succession in the East. This is true to this day. For the Christian East, this succession is not linear, from Apostles to bishops, but collegial and communal. Better yet, this apostolic succession is a succession from community to community.

In the West, the eschatological, eucharistic, collegial and communal aspects and dimensions of apostolic and episcopal ministry in the church were not adequately emphasized. As stated, the episcopal ministry lost its importance as the exclusive Eucharistic ministry. Thus, the Reformers had an easy job in abolishing episcopacy all together, at least episcopacy as was traditionally handed down to the church. Traditional episcopacy was easily replaced with other ministries of supervision, as episcopacy was not exclusively involved with the "mystery" (sacrament) of the church, the Eucharist.

The "Reformers" eventually went as far as to "flatten" most of the structures in the life of the church. They courted and encouraged the establishment of an "equality" and non-differentiation among all believers, totally abolishing the concept of "hierarchy."(6) Part of the ecumenical problem today is to restore the traditional structures of differentiated ministries, the most important being the prerogatives of episcopacy. Christian unity is predicated upon the authority of the bishop as the icon of Christ, presiding in persona Christi over the one Eucharist of the church.

The WCC/Faith and Order document on Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (BEM) gives an account of the present convergence among the churches regarding this burning issue of ministry in the life of the church. (7)


In continuity with its origins and the life of the early church, Orthodox Christianity continues to see all ministries in the church, including episcopacy, in a eucharistic and eschatological light and context.

In continuity with the Ignatian model, Orthodox self-consciousness envisions the church as the eschatological/eucharistic community, gathered together "in one place" (ἐπὶ τὸ αυτό, Acts 2:1, 44) to celebrate "the "mystery" (sacrament) of the church." The Church of the ages --past, present and future-- is gathered around the Eucharistic table to experience the "real presence" of God's Holy Spirit. The Church calls upon the Spirit to consecrate the Eucharistic synaxis and make it a living Eucharist, and also consecrate the gifts on the altar to become Christ's very body and very blood. In this way, the "holy gifts" will be given "unto the holy." Only in this way can there be no doubt that the Holy Spirit is in charge in the life of the Church. The Paraclete brings Christ to the faithful, and "forms Christ" in them (Saint Basil), anointing them as He anoints Christ (Saint Irenaeos, Saint Basil). The Holy Spirit "directs the life of the Church" (Saint Basil, Liturgy of Holy Pentecost).

In the presence of communion created by the Holy Eucharist, all dichotomies, polarizations and antitheses mentioned at the beginning of this paper disappear: the gap is bridged between history and eschatology, Christology and Pneumatology, institution and event, charisma and structure, hierarchy and "democracy," clergy and laity, and even created and uncreated being. There is only one fellowship of love in communion with the source of all being, God. The Life of God to which humankind is called to participate is by definition an eternal communion. As the church continues its "Liturgy after Liturgy," in reaching out to sanctify the world and bring it into communion with God and God's Holy Kingdom, the church blesses and sanctions a variety of ministries for both clergy and laity. It is through these ministries that the church carries out its mission.

On the basis of their Christian baptism, all the members of the church participate in the triple ministry of Christ, as priest, teacher, and king. As "priests for all creation," they mediate salvation for the entire creation of God, animate and inanimate. Through their receiving of the Eucharist, the entire cosmos participates in the transfiguration of creation in Christ. As teachers, they share in Christ's teaching ministry, helping their bishop to "divide aright the word of God's Truth." Through their participation in administrative work, they exercise their part of a leadership role, leading people into God's Holy inaugurated Kingdom.

From the time of Christ until now, we live as an eschatological community in "the last days." These are the days of God's Kingdom prior to Christ's second coming. God's Holy Spirit bestows a variety of His abundant gifts upon the baptized. Among these gifts is also that of the "ordained ministry," the Christian priesthood in its threefold pattern. This gift is constitutive of the being of the church. Also, it is the necessary tool to preserve its unity and faithfulness to apostolic faith, life, witness, and mission.

The Eucharist, being the "mystery" (sacrament) of the church, always was, is, and will continue to be central to the life of the Church of Christ, the Orthodox Church. Bishops, priests and deacons are first and foremost eucharistic orders. The Eucharist is the living spring from which flows the pastoral, educational, and administrative responsibility of the Holy Orders. However, what marks the distinctiveness of these orders is their role of presiding over and assisting in the celebration of the one Eucharist of the church, announcing Christ's death and resurrection, "until He comes [again]" (I Corinthians 12:26) "in glory to judge the living and the dead" (The Creed).


It is the estimation of all those who have any knowledge of Orthodox Ecclesiology that lay people in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America are more than fairly treated. The Charter of the Archdiocese provides for a very active role and very productive ministry for lay Orthodox Christians. The recent pastoral letter sent to all the faithful on the occasion of Lent, signed by the Archbishop and all the ruling hierarchs of the Archdiocese, makes special mention of this blessing.

The Uniform Parish Regulations (UPR) provide for a cooperative ministry of clergy and laity together. The principle behind the cooperation between clergy and laity is, certainly, the Orthodox ecclesiological principle of "synergy." This principle avoids, and even excludes, opposition and conflict which are damaging to the body of Christ. The clergy and laity together are called to work for the well-being and the spiritual growth of God's Holy People.

Clergy and laity are empowered to join together to accomplish all tasks in a cooperative way. Lay people fully participate in numerous conferences, congresses, legislative agencies, educational and administrative endeavors, youth ministry, missionary activity, charity work, and many more, on the parish, diocesan, and archdiocesan levels. The entire ministry of the church occurs under the supervision of the Mother Church, the Ecumenical Patriarchate. It is understood that proper sanction has to come from the Patriarchate for certain issues, especially those pertaining to matters of faith, dogma, morals and ecclesiastical (canon) law.

As Orthodox Christians, we should be very proud of our present system of church governance, and the loving relationship which exists between our clergy and our laity. Our Archdiocesan Charter needs but a few readjustments to reflect our age-old Orthodox ecclesiology. In the case that someone feels that more fine adjustments are needed, there is room for the necessary dialogue to improve the system. These adjustments must occur through proper channels. These channels are offered to us as extensions of the powerful, living traditions of the Apostolic community which harkens directly to the Ignatian model of post-Apostolic age. The Archdiocesan Charter is the protection and the guarantor of the rights and the ministry of the lay people.


Professor John Karmiris is right when he says that the term "para-ecclesiastical" may not be completely accurate insofar as the people involved in such organizations are members of the church and mean well.(8) However, when people organize not only without the blessing of the hierarchy but in opposition to that hierarchy, there is a problem.

Normally, our church does not suffer from "clericalism," and as a result anti-clericalism does not take root. In the same way, there should not be a need for "para-ecclesiastical" lay organizations. The ministry of the laity should find fulfilling expression in the context of the church and its organizations. If anything, our church suffers from "secularism" and "congregationalism," which hurt our communities and at times make it impossible to carry out the mission of the Orthodox Church of Christ.

If lay organizations formed without the blessing of the church genuinely mean well, it is hoped that they will be open to dialogue with the church hierarchy. The wisdom of Professor Karmiris is very helpful at this point. He identifies both the cause of the problem and its solution:

Competent and pious laity, deprived of the normal exercise of their rights and duties in the church in cooperation with the clergy, take refuge in numerous religious organizations which have been established and which are not very appropriately called "para-ecclesiastic." Some of these organizations ... function independently and unchecked, and not always in direct and organic union and dependence on the local [bishop] to whom they should be subject. But if the laity obtain again the position and service in the ecclesiastical organization belonging to them, ... the most important reason for the autonomous existence and function of these organizations will cease to exist and their members will be cooperating harmoniously with the clergy, under the guidance of the local bishops [italics added], as the holy canons and the holy tradition since the time even of Saint Ignatios of Antioch determine. Hence it would be undoubtedly a true blessing from God, if the religious organizations which now function independently of the church would place themselves and their divine zeal and their precious experience at the disposal of the ecclesiastic hierarchy so that, under a unified spiritual direction, the union and coordination of all the spiritual powers and efforts of the workers of the divine vineyard, both laity and clergy, may be accomplished. (9)

The guidance of John Karmiris is indeed helpful. The frustration among some of the laity can be understood, but good will and dialogue can make the difference in resolving any and all differences. Let us hope that the message of Professor Karmiris will be heard by all those people of good will who, out of love for the church, find themselves in opposition to its hierarchy (or, find themselves on opposite sides of the argument concerning "para-ecclesiastical" organizations).

But we must be clear that, on the basis of Orthodox ecclesiological principles explained above, the spheres of responsibility and the lines of demarcation of the various orders and structures in the church have been well established. As Saint Paul directs, "let all things be done decently and in [good] order" (I Corinthians 14:40). And again, "[In] whatever state each was called, there let him remain with God" (I Corinthians 7:24). We are to function according to the call received, and not to interfere with one another's ministries. In the light of Orthodox ecclesiology and the canonical tradition of the church since the time of St. Ignatios of Antioch, all church organizations which deal with the mission of the church are under the canonical authority of the bishop. All such organizations which do not submit to his authority are an anomaly in the life of the church.

There is plenty of room for each person to exercise their respective ministry under the umbrella of the Church's organization, sharing in the one ministry of the one church. Factionalism and fragmentation in the church have always been condemned. Saint Paul poses the rhetorical question, "Is Christ divided?" (I Corinthians 1:13). Let us make certain that we are not divided among ourselves. It will only encourage the heathen to "blaspheme God's name" (Romans 2:24) because of our shortcomings.


More wisdom on this subject is available from an ecumenical source: the World Council of Churches document on BEM mentioned above. In its section on ministry, BEM offers helpful remarks to both lay and ordained ministers:

The authority of the ordained minister is rooted in Jesus Christ. ... Authority has the character of responsibility before God and is exercised with the cooperation of the whole community.

Therefore, ordained ministers must not be autocrats or impersonal functionaries. Although called to exercise wise and loving leadership on the basis of the Word of God, they are bound to the faithful in interdependence and reciprocity. Only when they seek the response and acknowledgement of the community can their authority be protected from the distortions of isolation and domination. (10)

In the commentary to this section, the text notes:

Here two dangers must be avoided. Authority cannot be exercised without regard from the community. The apostles paid heed to the experience and the judgement of the faithful. On the other hand, the authority of the ordained ministers must not be so reduced as to make them dependent on the common opinion of the community. Their authority lies in their responsibility to express the will of God in the community. [Italics are in the original]. (11)

In other words, the hierarchy needs to take into account the feelings of the community. However, the community must realize that at times the hierarchy may disagree with the desire of members of the community to engage in practices that, in the judgement of the hierarchy, are not in keeping with the will of God. To resolve any such conflicts, it is important to ensure that a healthy dialogue will be used to elucidate the issue at question. Together we need to discover God's holy will and submit to it.


1. In both the Old or New Testament, the expression "People of God," refers to a people which is set apart, structured, and differentiated as a chosen people.

2. Christ provided the church with the ministry of His Twelve Apostles, which is fundamental and foundational for the church.

3. The apostolic ministry is eschatological and eucharistic. It proclaims the Kingdom through the preaching of the Word and the sacraments, particularly through the Eucharist, which is the "mystery" (sacrament) of the church.

4. The Twelve Apostles were not administrators. They appointed persons under their supervision to do the administrative work of the church, namely the Seven Deacons and Elders.

5. The Pauline-type Apostles were missionaries. They established Christian communities "in the lands of mission," and appointed appropriate leadership for each.

6. Between the time of the Apostles and the bishops of the second century A.D., the church leaders were the presbyters/bishops (elders/overseers), which were most probably in keeping with the contemporaneous Jewish community leadership.

7. The Ignatian Episcopal ministry is an eschatological and eucharistic ministry.

8. The Ignatian Episcopal ministry and the ministry of the presbyterium are interdependent.

9. In the fourth century A.D., the roles of bishop and presbyter were reversed: the presbyter presided over the Eucharist; the bishop became mostly an administrator and a teacher.

10. East and West both retain part of the tradition regarding the bishop as the president of the Eucharist (Fermentum, Antimensia, required commemoration of the bishop's name at the Eucharist).

11. The West de-contextualizes the tradition of St. Clement of Rome regarding the linear apostolic succession of bishops. In reality, however, the West is at variance with St. Clement, who does not exclude the community in the succession of the life and witness of the apostles.

12. The Reformers "flattened" most of the structures in the life of the church and sought to abolish the hierarchy.

13. The Orthodox Church continues to understand all ministries as eucharistic or, otherwise centered around the Eucharist.

14. In the Eucharistic communion, all dichotomies, polarizations, paradoxes and antitheses in the life of the church are transcended.

15. "Liturgy after Liturgy" --the mission of the church includes a variety of ministries, for clergy and for laity alike.

16. Lay people in the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America enjoy a cooperative (synergistic) ministry with the clergy. This ministry is carefully protected and guaranteed by the Charter of the Archdiocese.

17. "Para-ecclesiastical" organizations in Orthodoxy are a new and anomalous situation.

18. Dialogue between the hierarchy and the laity is encouraged to resolve the issues which led to the creation of a "para-ecclesiastical" organization.

19. BEM offers helpful suggestions to the hierarchy of the church, asking them to exercise their authority with the cooperation of the community.

20. BEM offers helpful suggestions to the laity, asking them to recognize that the hierarchy will take courageous stands to defend the will of God.

21. Healthy dialogue between clergy and laity will elucidate the will of God, and encourage submission to it by all involved.


1. John D. Zizioulas, Being as Communion, Crestwood (Saint Vladimir's Seminary Press, 1985), p. 162.

2. Stephen Angelides, Address to the Greek Orthodox American Leaders Meeting in Denver, February 7, 1998; posted: Tuesday, Feb. 10, 1998; written: Saturday, Feb. 7, 1998; Section: Articles; Content; Archdiocese;, p.7.

3. Ibid.

4. Raymond E. Brown, "A Brief Survey of the New Testament Evidence on Episcope and Episcopos," in Episcope and Episcopate in Ecumenical Perspective, Faith and Order Paper 102 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, year?), pp. 16-17.

5. Ibid., p. 24.

6. Chrestos Androutsos, Symbolics from an Orthodox Perspective [in Greek] (Athens: Alevropoulos Press, 1930), pp. 96-113, especially p. 107.

7. World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, Faith and Order Paper 111 (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982), pp. 20-32. It should be noted that a paper on convergence in contemporary ecclesiology on the ecumenical scene, "The Nature and Purpose of the Church," will be presented to the next WCC General Assembly in Harare, Zimbabwe, in December, 1998. Ministry is part of the document. One more document on Episcope-Episcopacy, the fruit of two important meetings this past year (Strasbourg, April 1-10, 1997, and Cret-Berard, Sept.4-12, 1997) will soon be published by WCC Faith and Order.

8. John Karmiris, The Status and Ministry of the Laity in the Orthodox Church, trans. Evie Zachariades-Holmberg (Brookline, MA: Holy Cross Press, 1994), p. 49.

9. Ibid.

10. BEM, Ministry, 16, 17; pp. 22-23.

11. BEM. Ministry, Commentary, 16; p. 23.


Androutsos, Chrestos. Symbolics from an Orthodox Perspective [in Greek]. Athens: Alevropoulos Press, 1930.

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_______________. "Episcope and Episcopos in the Early Church; A brief Survey of the Evidence," Episcope and Episcopate in Ecumenical Perspective. Faith and Order paper 102, Geneva: World Council of Churches, year? pp. 30-42.

[ EKKLISIA |  -  March 30, 1998 ]