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Anointing of the hands during ordination in the Roman Catholic Church

Ordination ( Latin ordinatio : "order, consecration") is an act of worship in Christianity and Judaism . In almost all churches , through ordination, believers (in Roman Catholic, Orthodox and many free churches only men) are blessed, singled out and sent to ministry. The central sign of blessing in all ordination liturgies is the laying on of hands . It is already mentioned in the New Testament ( 2 Tim 1,6  EU ; 1 Tim 4,14  EU ) as a gesture of the transfer of power.

Churches of Catholic and Orthodox tradition

In the churches of the Catholic and Orthodox tradition ( Roman Catholic Church , Orthodox Churches , Old Catholic Church and Anglican Churches ), ordination means the ordination to the triple apostolic office of deacon , presbyter ( priest ) and bishop ; this is also referred to with the terms diaconate ordination , priestly ordination and episcopal ordination . In most of these churches this act is a sacrament . The term ordination comes from the Latin ordinatio . No ordination, on the other hand, is the appointment to the services of the lecturer and the acolyte , the institutio , reproduced in German as “ commissioning ”.

Ordination as a sacrament can only be administered to men in the Roman Catholic Church and in all Orthodox Churches. Most Old Catholic and Anglican churches also consecrate women.

Protestant churches

The term ordination ( Latin , acceptance into the service community of clergy with all rights and obligations) is used to an even greater extent in the Protestant churches . Despite having the same name, the ordination in the member churches of the Evangelical Church in Germany is strictly differentiated from the sacramental consecration of the churches of the Catholic and Orthodox tradition, since it is not intended to establish membership of a special priesthood. Although Martin Luther's talk of the “general priesthood of all baptized” is only taken up in one place in the confessional writings of the Evangelical Lutheran Church , this idea is very important for most Protestant churches and they perceive a separation between priests and lay people as their understanding of the ecclesiastical Foreign office. In some (especially Reformed ) churches, the elders ( presbyters ) who, as volunteers, form the community leadership together with the pastors , are ordained for their service. In the general understanding, however, ordination is the blessing and mission for the service of the public proclamation and administration of the sacraments.

Evangelical regional churches

The practice of ordination is different in the individual Evangelical regional churches of the EKD and confessional traditions. It is partly connected (and almost identical) with the introduction to the first pastoral position , partly it is donated to individual candidates or to a whole group of years at the end of the last training phase (in which there was already a preliminary commissioning of the preaching and the sacraments). In some Lutheran churches only ordained persons can lead the sacrament celebration ; there are no provisional or temporary assignments.

In some cases, volunteer ordination is also possible for an unpaid service for administering the sacraments.

The Evangelical Church in the Rhineland has a special ordination practice : It understands the priesthood of all believers in such a way that theologically trained predicants and non-theological employees (e.g. youth officers) can be ordained.

It is similar with the Evangelical Church in Central Germany . Theologically trained laypeople can also be ordained there. As a rule, successful participation in church distance learning (KFU), which includes theological distance learning, and completion of advanced courses or the first theological exam is a prerequisite.

The Evangelical Church of the Palatinate also ordains preachers as well as parish deacons and youth advisors. The prerequisite is participation in a predicant course (for people who are not full-time in the service of the church) or an ordination course (for church employees). The ordination is permanent and is not limited to fields of work or location.

The Protestant ordination service is held by deans , superintendents , regional or state bishops . After reading the scriptures and the sermon, there are usually other scriptures that relate to the pastoral and preaching office, followed by the questioning of the candidate about his readiness, and finally the ordination prayer with the laying on of hands. Most of the time, the celebration of the Lord's Supper follows.

Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church

In the Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church (SELK) there is also talk of consecration (old Lutheran ordination form). The spiritual office in the SELK is derived from the apostolate and not from the priesthood of all baptized. The clergyman faces the congregation because he represents Christ in persona Christi in the execution of the proclamation and the dispensation of the sacrament (cf. the Lutheran confessional Apology of the Confessio Augustana , Article 7). Consecration is given by the bishop or a provost or superintendent with the laying on of hands. According to ancient church custom, at least two other ordained assistants.

, there also on the understanding of ministry and the ordination rite

The Christian Community

In the Christian community , ordination to the priesthood is a sacrament through which all priests have the same authority to ordain. Both men and women are ordained priests.


The appointment as rabbi is called Semicha in Judaism ; however, since the 19th century the term ordination has also been used increasingly. In German Judaism , rabbis are appointed to their office through ordination after completing a scientific training or studying at a Talmud university . This training takes place for liberal Judaism at the Abraham Geiger College in cooperation with the University of Potsdam . On September 13 and 14, 2006, for the first time since the end of the Second World War, rabbis in Germany were ordained in the New Synagogue in Dresden . The first ordination ceremony in Germany for Orthodox Judaism took place on June 2, 2009 in Munich in the synagogue of the Jewish Community in Munich and Upper Bavaria . The training place for Orthodox rabbis is the rabbinical seminar in Berlin , which was re-established in 2009 .

See also


  • "Duly appointed". A recommendation of the Bishops' Conference of the VELKD on the vocation to proclaim the word and administer the sacraments according to evangelical understanding (= texts from VELKD 136). Hanover 2006 ( online as PDF ).
  • Theological commission of the SELK (ed.): The office of the church. A signpost. 2nd edition, Hanover 1999 ( online as PDF )
  • Joachim Heubach : The ordination to the office of the church (= work on the history and theology of Lutheranism, vol. 2). Lutheran Publishing House, Berlin 1956.
  • Harald Goertz: General priesthood and ordained office with Luther , Marburger Theologische Studien 46, Marburg 1997, ISBN 3-7708-1091-0 .
  • Jörg Winter: On the understanding of ministry of the Roman Catholic and Protestant Church . In: Stefan Muckel (ed.): Church and religion in the social constitutional state . Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2003, ISBN 978-3-428-10931-9 , pp. 975-985.
  • Matthias Freudenberg u. a. (Ed.): Office and ordination from a reformed perspective (= reformed akzente 8). Wuppertal 2005, ISBN 3-932735-96-X .
  • Martin Krarup: Ordination in Wittenberg. The installation in the ecclesiastical office in Electoral Saxony at the time of the Reformation (= contributions to historical theology, vol. 141). Mohr Siebeck, Tübingen 2007, ISBN 3-16-149256-0 .
  • Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE): Office, ordination, episkopé . In: Michael Bünker , Martin Friedrich (eds.): Amt, Ordination, Episkopé und theologische Bildung / Ministry, ordination, episkopé and theological education (= Leuenberger Texte 13). Leipzig 2013, pp. 97-184.

Web links

Commons : Ordination  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files