Priesthood in Community of Christ is a sacred responsibility to use God-given gifts to serve the community. The various offices affirm this giftedness in a variety of ways.
Deacons express their gift of hospitality by creating inviting and comforting environments for worship and fellowship. This includes having a heightened awareness and sensitivity to people’s physical and spiritual health, as well as their financial needs. By teaching stewardship and the Disciple’s Generous Response principles, they help others understand ways to respond to the blessings in their lives. Though deacons provide leadership for the ongoing maintenance and operation of the church facility, much of their ministry also takes place beyond the confines of the worship hour. As such, deacons take their loving and joyful service to the church community by visiting in homes.
Those called to serve as deacons have many responsibilities within their congregation:
- Watch over the church
- Visit with people in their homes
- Teach and preach
- Care for the physical and social well-being of the church
- Arrange for the receiving of finances during worship services
- Teach and advise people regarding the principles of Disciples Generous Response
One way that teachers are called to serve the community is with leadership during worship services. However, the teacher’s key role is to cultivate friendships and have knowledge of the families in the congregation. They promote development and nurturing of a healthy, redeeming, and prayerful environment that encourages inclusion of all to share in the blessings of community, while also helping individuals build positive self-images and self-esteem. A key partner in ministry for teachers are evangelists as they seek to heal broken relationships. The teacher also promotes awareness of peace and justice, as well as providing an environment where listening is primary and criticism is limited.
The teacher’s ministry is to:
- Spend time with and strengthen the membership
- See that the church meets often
- Preach and teach
- Lead people into paths of discipleship
Priests have a special connection with angelic ministry, which is often expressed by special prayers before or during the sacrament of laying of hands to the sick or at other times when needed. As a family minister, the priest shares God’s gift of unconditional love for each family member as they interact with families to support their spiritual growth and discipleship response. Some of the key ways priests express their giftedness is through prayer, knowledge of scripture, and relationships. They are also invitational as they promote presence and participation in church life including service, outreach, fellowship, and worship. Priests are aware of the needs of community and can utilize services for support as they advocate for individuals and families throughout the community.
The priest’s responsibilities are:
- Ministry to families
- Preaching and teaching
- Baptism by water
- Administering the Lord’s Supper (communion)
- Performing marriage ceremonies
- Ordaining priests, deacons, and teachers
- Leading meetings in the absence of an Elder
- Pastoring congregations
Elders may often visit other congregations to preach, teach, and bring sacramental ministry, which requires regular prayerful reflection on the sacramental nature of life. It also especially requires of the elder to approach their ministry as a servant of the members, bringing empowerment to them. Elders that exhibit a particular knack for reaching out to people beyond the church community are often called and ordained to the office of seventy. The seventy are real road warriors, spending a lot of time outside of the congregation and preparing the way for Christ in the surrounding community.
Elders have responsibility to:
- Win people to Christ
- Teach and preach
- Lead meetings and serve as pastor
- Perform various sacraments (baptism, confirmation, serving the Lord’s Supper, ordination, blessing children, performing marriages, laying on of hands for the sick)
- Visit in homes
Evangelists are servant ministers of spiritual vigor, having deep faith in God, serving with unreserved consecration and love for people. They are called to be ministers of blessing and to be responsive to the reconciling and redeeming influence of the Holy Spirit in the lives of persons and congregations. One sacrament of the church – evangelist blessing – is available from evangelists for persons, families and congregations. Each evanglist provides ministry according to her or his unique gifts and callings, such as:
- Spiritual companion
- Preaching and teaching
- Being a loving presence
- Sharing safety, sanctuary, and confidentiality
Find various priesthood forms here: