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Bible Dictionaries

The American Church Dictionary and Cycopedia


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The highest of the three Orders of the Sacred Ministry (Bishops, Priests and Deacons). It is derived from the Greek word Episcopos, the transition being, Episcopus, Biscop, Bishop; the "p" melting into "b." The word means overseer. The functions of a Bishop are to rule his Diocese, ordain to the Ministry, administer Confirmation, consecrate Church buildings, etc. The Bishops are the successors of the Apostles and bear the same office. That they are not now called Apostles will appear from the following statement: "When the Apostles, in anticipation of their approaching death, appointed their successors in the superintendence of the several churches which they had founded, as Timothy at Ephesus and Titus at Crete, the title of Apostolos was reserved by way of reverence to those who had been personally sent by Christ Himself; Episcopos was assigned to those who succeeded them in the highest office of the Church, as overseers of Pastors as well as of flocks; and Presbuteros became the distinctive appellation of the second order, so that after the first century, no writer has designated the office of one of this second order by the term Episcope. This assertion cannot be controverted, and its great significance is self-evident." (See HOLY ORDERS, EPISCOPACY, also MINISTRY).

Bishop's Charge—Title I, Canon 19, Sec. IX of the Canons of the General Convention makes the following provision: "It is deemed proper that every Bishop of this Church shall deliver, at least once in three years, a charge to the Clergy of his Diocese, unless prevented by reasonable cause. And it is also deemed proper that, from time to time, he shall address to the people of his Diocese Pastoral Letters on some points of Christian doctrine, worship or manners." In his charge the Bishop has opportunity to speak on great questions of the day and to emphasize that which he deems to be for the best interests of the Church. In addition to his charge, the Bishop is required to make an Annual Address to his Diocese in council assembled, in which he reviews the State of the Diocese, and sets forth his official acts for the year.

Bishop Coadjutor—When a Bishop of a Diocese, by reason of old age or other permanent cause of infirmity, or by reason of extent of territory, is unable to discharge his Episcopal duties, one Bishop may be elected by and for the Diocese to assist him in his work. The title of such assistant is "Bishop Coadjutor." In case of the death of the Bishop, the Bishop Coadjutor succeeds him in his office and becomes Bishop of the Diocese.

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Bibliography Information
Miller, William James. Entry for 'Bishop'. The American Church Dictionary and Cyclopedia. 1901.

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