The traditions found within the Catholic and Orthodox Churches are ones that stretch back close to two thousand years. During this time the respective Churches became a reflection of the culture in which they found themselves. As such, the priesthood offices found in these Churches are reflective of not only the Church found during the time of the Apostles but are also reflective of the service that was rendered to God in these respective communities over the centuries.
During this service the Priesthood in these Churches began to be divided into what were called the “minor” and “major” orders of the Priesthood. The minor orders were reflective of service to a local congregation/parish and the major orders were reflective of service to the Church as a whole.
The restoration tradition that The Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship ascribes to inherits it’s understanding of the Priesthoods from the Articles of Faith as written by the Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. and excerpts found in The Book of the Law of the Lord as revealed through the Prophet James Strang. In the 6th Article of Faith we find the following:
“We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”
Additionally, in The Book of the Law of the Lord Chapter 36 we find:
There are two Priesthoods: the Priesthood of an Endless Life, and the Priesthood of Life. In the Priesthood of endless life are two Orders; that of Apostles, and of Priests. Of Apostles there are four Degrees. The first Degree is that of Lawgiver: and is Apostle, Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Translator. This Degree is sole, and gives the word of God as from His own mouth. The second Degree is that of Counselor: and is Apostle, Prophet, Seer and king. The third Degree is that of Ambassador. Of these there shall be twelve. They shall be Apostles and witnesses to the nations, and rulers in all places where the Lawgiver shall send them. The fourth Degree is that of Evangelist. Evangelists are Apostles, and witnesses of the Kingdom, to whatever nation they are sent. Seven are a full Quorum; and there shall be but one Quorum to any nation, kindred, tongue, or people. Of Priests there are two Degrees. The first Degree is that of High Priests. The second Degree is that of Elders. In the Priesthood of Life are three Orders; that of Priest, of Teacher, and of Deacon. Of Priests, of the Priesthood of Life, there shall be a Chief Priest, a first and second High Priest, and a Leader of each Course of Priests, to every Temple. This Priesthood shall be divided into Courses according to the nature of their duties; and officers appointed in the several Courses, to guide and direct the duties of the Course. In organizing the Courses, those may be included who have been ordained to a higher Priesthood. Of Teachers there are five Degrees; Rabboni, Rabbi, Doctor, Ruler, and Teacher. Of Deacons there are three Degrees; Marshals, Stewards, and Ministers.
Equipped with this understanding we are able to observe the evolution of the offices that were found in the Priesthood in the context of the restoration. The evolution was necessitated according to the culture in which the Church found itself along with needs of the people of the Church. As such the following equivalency of Priesthood offices has been recommended as a part of this policy.
|Catholic/Orthodox Priesthood Office||The Church of Jesus Christ in Christian Fellowship Priesthood Office|
|Doorkeeper||Deacon 1st Degree (Marshal)|
|Acolyte||Deacon 2nd Degree (Steward)|
|Cantor||Deacon 3rd Degree (Minister)|
|Reader||Teacher 1st Degree (Teacher)|
|Exorcist||Teacher 3rd Degree (Doctor)|
|Subdeacon||Teacher 4th Degree (Rabbi)|