Essay on The Order of Hierarchy for Clerical Ranks in the Copic Orthodox Church

Essay on The Order of Hierarchy for Clerical Ranks in the Copic Orthodox Church

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In the Coptic Orthodox Church there exists an order of hierarchy for clerical ranks. The

first and highest rank is known as the Episcopate Rank, and is composed of all the Bishops. Next

is the Presbyterate rank, which is made up of all the priests. The third and final is the deaconate

rank, which is a subordinate rank in the hierarchy of orders in the Coptic Orthodox Church. The

deaconate order is broken into five sub-ranks: Archdeacon, Deacon, Sub-deacon, Reader, and

Chanter. Why was there a deaconate order? In Acts 6:1, St Luke writes that the Hellenists were

complaining because their widows were neglected in daily distribution. In reverence, the

disciples then said, “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables.

Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy

Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves

continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:2-3) Therefore, the disciples

decided to appoint people, later called deacons, to attend to the widows. The seven selected

were, Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon,

Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch (Acts 6:5). To be a part of the deaconate order

a member of the congregation is ordained by the laying of the hands. A newly ordained deacon

starts off with the lowest possible deaconate rank, known as Chanter. He will then be continually

elevated until he reaches the highest possible rank, but this only happens when he is found


To be found meritorious a member of the congregation must have certain qualifications.

Saint Paul told us these qualifi...

... middle of paper ...

...e bishop, recommends candidates for the

Holy Order of Deaconate, and takes a role at ordinations.

In summation, the Coptic Orthodox Church has an order of ranks, the Episcopate,

Presbyterate, and Deaconate ranks. The Episcopate rank is the highest followed by the

Presbyterate and Deaconate ranks. The deaconate order is broken into five smaller ranks

(Archdeacon, Deacon, Sub-deacon, Reader, and Chanter) each with different tasks and

responsibilities in order of rank. Regardless, of each deacon’s rank, it is what the deacon does in

his position, not the level. Saint John had said "If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and

where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor" (Jn

12:26). Deacons should work to serve God by their own will, and to the best of their ability, so

that they may receive the ultimate reward.

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