From the Confessions: Treatise on the Power and Primacy of the Pope
VII. Again, the Council of Nicea decided that bishops should be elected by their own churches, in the presence of one or more neighboring bishops. This was the practice in the West also and in the Latin churches, as Cyprian and Augustine testify. Cyprian says in his fourth letter to Cornelius: “Accordingly, regarding the divine observance and apostolic practice, you must diligently keep and practice what is also observed among us and in almost all the provinces. For celebrating ordination properly, whatever bishops of the same province live nearest should come together with the people for whom a shepherd is being appointed. The bishop should be chosen in the presence of the people, who most fully know the life of each one, which we also have seen done among us at the ordination of our colleague Sabinus. By all the brethren having the right to vote, and by the judgment of the bishops who had assembled in their presence, the episcopate was conferred and hands laid on him.”
Pulling It Together
It has long been the practice that churches should be the ones who decide who their bishops will be. Appointments of bishops by a bishop or committee begins the slippery slope to the primacy of one. This is why the Reformation leaders desired the diligence Cyprian advised. The episcopate is a matter of God’s calling, and the peoples’ choice of a regional bishop who has been properly examined by the already established leadership.
Prayer: Give shepherds to your Church, Lord, who are faithful to you. Amen.
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The ReClaim Hymnal for Church and Home contains three Communion Settings along with liturgies for Baptism, Confirmation, Marriage, Funerals, and other occasional services. It also includes the Small Catechism, as well as 275 beloved hymns from various hymn traditions. It is a resource that would be suitable for confirmation and graduation gifts as well as congregational use.