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Sacraments 8    Ordination1

Of course, he2 has a vocation!”.

That does seem a rather limp way of putting it – as if the dog-collared person has a vocation and others don’t. Surely God “calls” to every human being, so we all have vocations – it’s just that some feel called to the ordained ministry3 of the church.

We have three “ranks” or “orders” in the church. Deacon, priest and bishop.

The Bishop of any “diocese” is the chief minister of the diocese and is the foundation on which the church is built. There are 44 in the Church of England4 – and our church life revolves around our bishop.

Bishops come from the ranks of the priests – and priests form the greatest number of the clergy. These are the ones you meet mostly.

A deacon is these days seen mostly as a “priest in training” because when students come out of college5 they are first ordained as a deacon and they work under a “training incumbent” for a year before being ordained priest. A few, however, do remain deacons.

Deacons cannot do as many things as a priest – and priests cannot do all a Bishop can do6.

So what is a vicar, a rector, a rural dean, an archdeacon, a dean, a canon, a curate, a precentor, a prebendary, suffragan bishop…. indeed, this seemingly endless stream of clerical titles? The simple answer is that they are all job titles7 - or honours given for good service8.

To cover all these “jobs”, there are just three “orders”: