Since my consecration into the CEEC this past Wednesday night I have had a number of people ask me, “Do you feel any different after being consecrated as a bishop?”
The short answer is, yes, I do feel different. I was profoundly moved and feel like something changed in me through this event.
The longer answer is longer.
I feel different because after all my studies in Church History and biblical study I have come to believe in what the ancients called: Holy Orders. The closest thing to Holy Orders in my Evangelical imagination was receiving, what many refer to, as a “call” of God into the ministry. The chief difference between a “call” from God into ministry and Holy Orders is that a “call” from God is generally understood as something that one experiences privately with no witnesses. In Holy Orders a “call” from heaven must be present, but there must also be a “call” from the church’s people and her leadership, who have been ordained and consecrated in Apostolic Succession (a big phrase that means Jesus laid hands on those who laid hands on those who laid hands on those who laid hands on those…up to today!). Holy Orders are corporate things—not just private. They are like baptism and Eucharist, which are also corporate things done with others and not private affairs. These sacraments (yes, Holy Orders were always considered sacraments historically) are practical and pragmatic ways we express our creedal statement: We believe in the communion of saints.
I feel different because I felt the gravity of the questions I was asked before hands were laid upon me during my consecration:
Are you persuaded that God has called you to the office of bishop?
Will you accept this call and fulfill this trust in obedience to Christ?
Will you be faithful in prayer, and in the study of Holy Scripture, that you may have the mind of Christ?
Will you boldly proclaim and interpret the Gospel of Christ, enlightening the minds and stirring up the conscience of your people?
As a chief priest and pastor, will you encourage and support all baptized people in their gifts and ministries, nourish them from the riches of God's grace, pray for them without ceasing, and celebrate with them the sacraments of our redemption?
Will you guard the faith, unity, and discipline of the Church of God?
Will you share with your fellow bishops in the government of the whole Church and strengthen those who minister in the Church?
Will you be merciful to all, show compassion to the poor and strangers, and defend those who have no helper?
I feel different because I believe something happened in the heavens and in my soul and in our church when the hands of individuals who were formed by bishops before them who were formed by bishops before them were placed on me. I felt through their hands: their hearts, their years of faithful ministry, and the weight of the history they bear.
I feel different because I heard the cry of the people saying, “I do,” when asked if they wanted me to serve as a bishop in the Church of Christ. I heard those of you whom I love and have served for years “call” me into this new role as bishop.
I felt something new when the bishops placed those various ancient symbols on my body:
The stole and chasuble, which represent being clothed with humility as a minister of the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood.
The pectoral cross which symbolizes my commitment to “take up the Cross” of Jesus Christ our Lord and bear it after him.
The Bishop’s ring, which symbolizes the seal of faith and expressing my commitment to keep the faith and to guard and protect the holy Church which is the bride of God.
The mitre (bishop’s hat) representing the helmet of protection and salvation.
The cope representing one who goes amongst the churches celebrating the dignity and joy of the feasts of Christ's holy Church.
The crozier (hooked staff) representing that a bishop is one called to be a shepherd.
A Bible, which affirms the bishop must always embrace the Word of God as a faithful steward and to feed the flock of Christ through the Word and Sacraments.
I feel a weight for the church that I have not felt before—at least with this kind of clarity. I want you to know that for whatever time I have left here on this planet I will do all I can to honor God and serve his people.
Yes, I feel different—like something happened that has never happened to me.
Thank you, Sanctuary. I know our journey over the past years has been full of changes that have often been a little outside of our past religious experience. Thank you for questioning but not judging. Thank you for your loving support and earnest obedience to the direction we feel God has been pulling us.
Grace and Peace,
†Bishop Ed Gungor, CEEC
1. We see this idea played out in the whole biblical story vis-à-vis the “laying on of hands” through Moses (Num. 27:18-20), Jesus (Mt. 10:1), the Apostles (Acts 6; 13:3; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6; Heb. 6:2). This practice of “laying on of hands” to commission the “next” generation of people to carry the “same Spirit” as those who went before is seen throughout the history of the Church (this is what constitutes “Holy Orders”).
2. The notion of sacred garments that represent something spiritual is seen all the way back to the beginning of worship in the OT (Ex. 28:2; Ezra 3:10) and we know that clothing always was used to reveal roles people participated in all the way up to the modern world where the idea of personal expression through clothing emerged—though there are still many places where people's individuality disappears behind the garments that represent how they serve in the modern world (i.e. judges in the courtroom, police and military, nurses and doctors, etc.).