Archbishop Kenneth W. McNatt, Ph.d, D.D. is the president and founder of Global Harvest International Fellowship. He is the presiding prelate and his episcopal see is in Hamilton, GA USA at Cathedral of Hope.
“This is a true saying, if a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.”
I Timothy 3:1 (KJV)
The roots of the bishopric are in the New Testament and began when the Apostle Paul saw the need for local churches to have structure and appointed “elders” in each church he established. To promote unity and identification of local congregations to the universal church, regional bishops or overseers were appointed to pastor the pastors. The main role was administrative in nature and servant in purpose. The bishop was and should be a symbol of unity and reconciliation.
Explanation of the Bishopric
A Bishop is chosen one of two ways…
Appointed: Referred to as Bishop-Designate prior to Consecration.
A Bishop cannot make himself or herself a Bishop thus it requires an appointment by one who is higher than them. The way out of this office is to be disappointed by one higher than them.
Elected: Referred to as Bishop-Elect prior to Consecration.
A group of Elders, and Pastors who desire one to be a bishop over them, elects them, and requests a Consecration. (A Bishop cannot make himself or herself a Bishop.) A Bishop who is voted in can be voted out.
In union with the successor of Peter, the bishops, who are successors of the Apostles, received through the power of their episcopal ordination the authority to teach the revealed truth in the Church. They are teachers of the faith.
A bishop in the Lord’s Church has many responsibilities. They must have a clear sense of purpose and the mission of the church. They are not a novice in the faith but experienced as an ordained cleric. The office speaks of one who is a leader of leaders and able to be a shepherd to the flock as well as a shepherd to shepherds. Through study and experience a bishop has a good background in teaching and preaching. Their actions and speech have established a good report both in the church and in the community. A bishop is to serve as the conscience of the community and as a Spiritual and Governmental Leader. They serve as a righteous judge of matters relating to the church as well as a defender of the faith. A bishop is recognized as an overseer at large who demonstrates Supervision and Administrative skill and is one who is to carry a heart for the Lord’s church.
The bishop is a symbol of unity and reconciliation whose administrative role is saturated in servant hood. In teaching His disciples Jesus said, “… If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35). The roots of the bishopric are in the New Testament and began when the Apostle Paul saw the need for local churches to have structure and appointed “elders” in each church he established. To promote unity and identification of local congregations to the universal church, regional bishops or overseers were appointed to pastor the pastors.
The key to understanding the office of the bishop is to realize they are appointed by men and approved by God. The scripture states, “If any man desire the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” Or better said, “If any man consent and is willing to hold the office of a bishop, he desires a good work.” In Acts 1:20 the Apostles saw the need to appoint someone to replace the bishopric of Judas Iscariot. They appointed two and followed a due process to decide who would fill the office…casting of lots.
Historically and scripturally, a person can only become a bishop through appointment to a region by another bishop. (Within Global Harvest International Fellowship two or more bishops assigned by the Archbishop and approved by the College of Bishops must be present at any consecration sanctioned by the fellowship.) That appointment is called an ordination or consecration and is the recognition of peers that a member of the pastorate has gained or is gaining extra-local oversight administratively of other pastors and five-fold ministry gifts. A duly appointed bishop must go through a process of submitting to the College of Bishops for an inquiry. This is to ensure the individual meets the requirements of and to preserve the integrity and sanctity of the office.
Being elevated to the office of the bishop is not an opportunity to gain a title and display oneself as a superior to other ministers. However, the weight of the office requires a greater demand of responsibility and service within the body of Christ as an overseer, inspiration and encouragement to other ministers.
Surely a bishop who is submitted to the tutelage of Christ and His Lordship aspires to exhibit the scriptures read by our Lord as He began His ministry, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,” (Luke 4:18).
It is a close fitting garment, reaching the feet, and is worn as a symbol of a servant. The bishop continues to wear the cassock as a part of his garb because Jesus instructed that those who would be chief among us must be a servant.
The white rochet, worn by the bishop is a symbol of the wearer’s role as a celebrant of the sacrament (ordinances) and chief worship leader among God’s people.
It is an upper robe of a bishop. This garment serves as a symbol of the mantle of a prophet. The chimere is only worn by the bishop because it signifies him as chief proclaimer and defender of the faith in the apostolic tradition.
It is symbolic of one call to an office denoting one who is yoked, the symbol of the preacher. The bishop’s scarf is 7” wide symbolizing perfection and the tippet is 5” representing grace.
This is the symbol of the Christian ambassador that placed his/her life on the line for the Lord Jesus Christ (Ministers were beheaded in the past for their stand in Christianity. Christian ambassadors would place a metal plate around their neck and overlay it with white cloth; therefore, making it difficult to behead the Christian soldier).
The scripture tells us that we must be girded with truth and one such truth is that the minister is first and foremost a humble servant. It obtained it’s symmetry from the towel which our Lord girded Himself with, as He humbled Himself to wash His disciples feet.
It represents the victory of which we march on the road to Zion.
The cope symbolizes the yoke of Christ and signifies charity.
The points symbolize the cloven tongues on the heads of the disciples on the day of Pentecost and the streamers represent the everlasting living water that Christ offers to the believer.
The gold chain is a symbol of endurance which emphasizes that the bearer is not a novice. The gold represents deity and wealth. As a gift to the Christ child, it symbolizes His kingship.
The Pectoral Cross represents the victorious risen savior (different from the crucifix which states He is still on the cross).
This is the signet of authority. It is worn on the right hand (the hand that represents God given authority) just as Christ sits on the right hand of God the Father. It also represents that they are committed and dedicated to Christ and His Church.
The bishop’s indoor covering.
A symbol of the shepherd’s staff given to Moses as he was exiled from Egypt. It is the symbol of authority and strength.