'''''Presbyter''''' is, in the [[Bible]], a synonym for ''[[bishop]]'' (''episkopos''), referring to a leader in local Church congregations. In modern usage, it is distinct from ''bishop'' and synonymous with '''''priest'''''. Its literal meaning in Greek (''presbyteros'') is "elder."
Through the sacrament of [[ordination|holy orders]], an ordination to priesthood is performed by the bishop. But this requires the consent of the whole people of God, so at a point in the service, the [[congregation]] acclaim the ordination by shouting [[Axios]]! (''He is worthy!'')
Orthodox priests are divided into two distinct groups, [[ Marriage| married]] [[clergy]], and [[monastic]] clergy. In the Orthodox Church a married man may be ordained to the priesthood. His marriage, however, must be the first for both him and his wife. He may not remarry and continue in his ministry even if his wife should die.
If a single man is ordained, he must remain monastic to retain his service. A priest-monk is called a [[hieromonk]].
==Ministry== It is Church doctrine that the [[clergy]] must strive to fulfill the grace given to them with the gift of the "laying on of hands" in the most perfect that they can. But the Church teaches that the reality and effectiveness of the [[sacraments]] of the Church, ministered by the presbyters, do not depend upon personal virtue, but upon the presence of Christ who acts in his Church by the Holy Spirit. The same as with bishops, it is Christ, through his chosen ministers, who acts as teacher, good shepherd, forgiver, and healer. It is Christ remitting sins, and curing the physical, mental and spiritual ills of mankind. The priest is an icon of Christ.
Priests normally exercise the function of pastors of parishes, a function which was normally done by the bishops in early times. They are rectors of the local congregations of Christians. They preside at the celebration of the liturgy and teach, preach, counsel and exercise the ministries of forgiveness and healing.
Since the presbyters are assigned by the bishop and belong to the specific congregations they have no authority or services to perform apart from their bishop and their own particular parish community. On the [[altar table]] of each parish, there is the cloth called the [[antimension]] signed by the bishop, which is the permission to the community to gather and to act as the Church. Without the antimension, the priest and his people cannot function legitimately.
Initially, each local congregation in the Church had its own bishop. Eventually, as the Church grew, individual congregations no longer were served directly by a bishop. The bishop in a large city would appoint a presbyter to pastor the flock in each congregation, acting as his delegate.
Modern usage ==
The [[Orthodox Church]] often refers to presbyters in English as ''priests'' (''priest'' is etymologically derived from the Greek ''presbyteros'' via the Latin ''presbyter''). This usage is seen by some Protestant Christians as stripping the [[laity]] of its rightful priestly status, while those who use the term defend its usage by saying that, while they do believe in the ''priesthood'' of all believers, they do not believe in the ''eldership'' of all believers.
Priests are often styled as ''the Reverend'' (Rev.) and therefore referred to as ''the Reverend Father'' (Rev. Fr.). Higher in bestowed honor and responsibility, [[Archpriest]]s and [[Protopresbyter]]s are styled as ''the Very Reverend'' (V. Rev.), while [[Archimandrite]]s can be styled as ''the Very Reverend'' (V. Rev.) or as ''the Right Reverend'' (Rt. Rev.). It is also appropriate and traditional to refer to a clergyman as "the Priest ''Name''" or "Archpriest ''Name''". This latter practice is especially prominent in Churches with Slavic roots, such as the [[Church of Russia]] or the [[Orthodox Church in America]].
Monastic]] s who are ordained to the priesthood are known as ''priest-monks'' or ''hieromonks''.
== Sources ==