Presiding bishop

A presiding bishop is an ecclesiastical position in some denominations of Christianity.


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

The Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) is the chief ecumenical officer of the church, and the leader and caretaker for the bishops of the synods. The presiding bishop chairs the biennial Church-wide Assembly and provides for the preparation of agendas for the assembly, the Church Council and its executive committee, the Conference of Bishops, and the Cabinet of Executives. The Presiding Bishop of the ELCA is elected to a six-year term, available for re-election and is charged with initiating policy, developing strategy and overseeing administration of the entire church. The presiding bishop also serves as a figurehead and speaks on behalf of the entire church.

The ELCA's third Presiding Bishop, Mark Hanson, served two six-year terms from 2001 to 2013. Elizabeth Eaton was elected as the fourth (and first female) presiding bishop in August 2013.

Other Lutheran churches

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC), a mainline Lutheran body similar to the ELCA, uses the term "national bishop" for a similar position. Most other Lutheran churches in North America, especially the Confessional Lutheran bodies use a congregationalist structure and call their national leaders "president." The Lutheran Churches of Sweden, Finland, Estonia, and Latvia all use the term Archbishop.


Episcopal Church in the United States

In the Episcopal Church in the United States of America, the Presiding Bishop is the chief pastor and primate of the national church and its nine ecclesiastical provinces.[1] The Presiding Bishop is charged with responsibility for leadership in initiating, developing, and articulating policy and strategy, overseeing the administration of the national church staff, and speaking for the church on issues of concern and interest.[2] He or she is the president of the House of Bishops and is elected by the church's General Convention to serve a single nine-year term.[3] The correct clerical style for the Presiding Bishop is "The Most Reverend".

The role and importance of the office has grown over time.[4] Originally, the Presiding Bishop was simply the senior diocesan bishop who presided over the House of Bishops. In 1919, the office was transformed into an elected one, and in the 1940s the decision was made that the Presiding Bishop should resign any other jurisdictions for which he or she might have pastoral responsibility. In this respect, the office is different from that of many archbishops found in other churches in the Anglican Communion which have diocesan responsibilities in addition to overseeing a national church. In the 1970s, the Presiding Bishop was given authority to enter dioceses for sacramental and preaching ministry, consulting with bishops, and related purposes. The Presiding Bishop was given the title of primate in 1982.

Presently, Michael Bruce Curry holds the position. Elected in 2015, he is the first African American to hold the position.[5]

Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America

Stephen Elliott, first bishop of Georgia was the only Presiding Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States of America.

Reformed Episcopal Church

Leonard W. Riches is the current Presiding Bishop. This church continues apostolic succession through George D. Cummins who left the Episcopal Church, USA in the 19th century.

Note: The Reformed Episcopal Church is not in communion with the Anglican Communion.

United Episcopal Church of North America

The Constitution of the United Episcopal Church of North America refers to the senior bishop as the Presiding Bishop, but within the denomination he is informally referred to as the Archbishop - a hangover from the 1981/4 version of the UECNA Constitution and Canons. The Presiding Bishop acts as Chairman of the House of Bishops and the National Council, and as 'primus inter pares.' The Constitution and Canons were modified in 1992 (confirmed in 1996), with the title for the senior bishop reverting to 'Presiding Bishop.' However, the change of title never really caught on, and the 2011 General Convention of the UECNA codified the common custom of referring to the senior bishop as 'Archbishop' by modifying Canon 3 - Of the Presiding Bishop - to reflect this. However, the formal title remains 'Presiding Bishop' and is used in formal documents. The UECNA derives its historic episcopate from the Episcopal Church via Albert A. Chambers and the Anglican Catholic Church, and also from the Philippine Independent Catholic Church through that church's now defunct Anglican Rite Jurisdiction of the Americas. Unlike the Episcopal Church, the Presiding Bishop of the United Episcopal Church may retain his diocese after election, and does not serve a fixed term, but is expected to resign following the election of a successor at the General Convention prior to the incumbent's seventy-second birthday. In the event of an unexpected vacancy occurring, the senior bishop by date of consecration having jurisdiction serves as Presiding Bishop until an election can take place. The present holder of the office is Peter D. Robinson.

Latter Day Saints

See also: Bishop (Latter Day Saints): Presiding Bishop and Presiding Bishop (LDS Church)

The Presiding Bishop is an office in the church hierarchy of several denominations of the Latter Day Saint movement. Each Presiding Bishop has two counselors; the three together form the Presiding Bishopric. A man recognized as a "literal descendent of Aaron" (or Kohanim) can, under the direction of the First Presidency, hold the office of Presiding Bishop alone, without counselors. To date, no man in any Latter Day Saint tradition has held the office of Presiding Bishop under these conditions.

The office shares its origin with that of bishop. Edward Partridge was the first man ordained to the office of bishop in the early Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on February 4, 1831. This office became known as the First Bishop and later the "Presiding Bishop" when subordinate bishops were called in the Nauvoo period (1839–44).

After the 1844 succession crisis, the office of Presiding Bishop evolved separately in different denominations of the movement.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest denomination of the Latter Day Saint movement,[6] the Presiding Bishop is the highest leadership position within the church's Aaronic priesthood. The three members of the Presiding Bishopric act as church general authorities, oversee both the church's temporal affairs (buildings, properties, commercial corporations, etc.) and the bishoprics of wards (congregations) throughout the world.

Along with the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Presiding Bishopric is a part of the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes, which oversees and authorizes the expenditure of all tithing funds. The Presiding Bishopric is also responsible for overseeing the church's Aaronic priesthood, although most of the work in this area is delegated to the Young Men General Presidency.

Since October 2015, the church's Presiding Bishop has been Gérald Caussé.[7]

Community of Christ

The Presiding Bishopric of the Community of Christ, the second largest denomination, are the chief financial officers and trustees of the church. As such, they are trustees in trust for all church property, including local congregational facilities. They are responsible for the administration of the temporal affairs of the whole church. They lead the Order of Bishops in providing support and mentoring to the financial officers of congregations and mission centers. The Presiding Bishopric serves also as the presidency of the Aaronic priesthood and leads the Order of Bishops in providing support, training, and advocacy in empowering the Aaronic Ministers. They direct the stewardship education efforts of the church and lead financial development efforts with major donors. The Presiding Bishopric is a part of the World Church Leadership Council, along with the First Presidency and Council of Twelve Apostles. They also serve as members of the World Church Finance Board, which proposes budgets to the World Conference for approval.

The current Presiding Bishop of the church is Stassi D. Cramm, with Steven E. Graffeo and Michele K. McGrath as counselors.[8] Cramm is also a member of the church's First Presidency.

Church of God in Christ

The current presiding bishop of the Church Of God In Christ is Bishop Charles E. Blake,[9] pastor of West Angeles Church Of God In Christ in Los Angeles, California. Bishop Charles E. Blake was appointed the seventh in succession as Presiding Bishop by the General Assembly of the Church Of God In Christ on November 12, 2007. At the 101st Holy Convocation, during the quadrennial elections in 2008, Bishop Blake was re-elected as presiding bishop for another four-year term. As presiding bishop, Blake has become the new face of and an international spokesperson for Pentecostalism as it is known today, and he has devoted his time to making the church relevant to a technologically focused generation.[10]

See also


  1. The Episcopal Church (2009), Constitution and Canons, Title I Canon 2 Section 4 (a), p. 28.
  2. Title I Canon 2 Section 4 (a) (1), p. 28.
  3. Title I Canon 2 Section 2, p. 27.
  4. Roozen, David A.; James R. Nieman, Editors (2005). Church, Identity, and Change: Theology and Denominational Structures in Unsettled Times. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. ISBN 0-8028-2819-1. p. 201-202.
  5. "North Carolina Bishop Michael Curry elected as 27th Presiding Bishop", Episcopal News Service, The Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society, 2015-06-27, retrieved 2015-06-27
  6. "Mormon Denominations". About Mormon denominations. Religion Facts.
  7. "New Presiding Bishopric Announced : Bishop Gérald Caussé is 15th presiding bishop in Church's history", Newsroom, LDS Church, 2015-10-09
  8. "Presiding Bishopric",, accessed 16 June 2016.
  9. "The Presiding Bishop". Biography. Church of God In Christ. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  10. Prince, Zenitha (July 1, 2013). "Bishop Blake Heralds Change in the Church of God in Christ". AFRO-American Newspapers.

External links

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