Membership in E.G.C.
There are three recognized subclasses of Church membership, the Clergy (Clerical membership), the Laity (Lay membership) and Bishops in Amity (Advisory membership). The Clergy is composed of the Father (or Mother) of the Church (also known as the Patriarch or Matriarch), the Primate, the Bishops, the Priests and Priestesses, and the Deacons.
The Clergy: The Patriarchate
The Father (or Mother) of the Church, also known as the Sovereign Patriarch or Sovereign Matriarch, is the O.H.O. of O.T.O. All official rites and ceremonies used within E.G.C. are subject to the approval of the Patriarch. The Patriarch has the sole authority to suspend, revoke, and reinstate the recognition of any person's clerical status as Bishop, Priest, Priestess or Deacon within E.G.C., and any person's Clerical or Advisory membership in E.G.C. The Patriarch has the authority to approve texts to be used in celebrations of the Gnostic Mass by Priests and Priestesses of E.G.C., modify the Gnostic Mass to suit special functions and occasions, to set guidelines for its proper performance, and to issue guidelines for the preparation of the eucharistic elements.
At this time, the Patriarch is Frater Superior Hymenaeus Beta, Caliph and Acting O.H.O. of O.T.O.
The Clergy: The Primacy
The Primate, or Presiding Bishop, is the National Grand Master General X° . The Primate shall in general supervise and control the affairs of E.G.C. within the U.S.A., subject to the ultimate authority of the Patriarch.
At this time, the Primate of E.G.C. within the U.S.A. is Sabazius X° , National Grand Master General of the U.S. Grand Lodge of O.T.O. Frater Superior Hymenaeus Beta has delegated, in full, his duties and authority within E.G.C. to Sabazius X° for exercise within the U.S.A. The actions and decisions of the Primate are subject to modification or reversal by the Patriarch upon appeal by any Bishop within the U.S.A.
The Clergy: The Episcopate
Bishops have the power and authority within E.G.C. to celebrate the Gnostic Mass; to ordain Priests, Priestesses and Deacons of E.G.C.; and to perform baptisms, confirmations, marriages and last rites, in accordance with local laws.
Full Bishops within E.G.C. must be Sovereign Grand Inspectors General VII° of O.T.O. There are a number of Bishops of E.G.C. who were consecrated prior to the institution of this requirement, and who are not yet Sovereign Grand Inspectors General of O.T.O. Such Bishops are known as Auxiliary Bishops, and their authority is similar to that of E.G.C. Priests and Priestesses, along with any additional authority specifically given to them by the Patriarch or the Primate.
Bishops and Auxiliary Bishops of E.G.C. have the responsibility of serving as official representatives of E.G.C. within O.T.O. Any public celebration of the Gnostic Mass which involves the participation of a recognized Bishop or Auxiliary Bishop of E.G.C. as an officer is by definition an official O.T.O. event and is subject to all the policies of O.T.O. regarding official O.T.O. events.
The term "Bishop" does not carry the same meaning within E.G.C. as it does in Christian Churches or in the so-called "Wandering Bishops" tradition. Possession of a valid and documented Apostolic Succession does not make one a Bishop of E.G.C.; neither is a Christian Apostolic Succession necessary to the Bishops of E.G.C.
Gnostic Bishops of the Doinel Succession assume a Mystic Name prefaced by the Greek letter "T" or "Tau" upon their consecration. Bishops and Auxiliary Bishops of E.G.C. who wish to emphasize this part of their spiritual heritage may, at their option, follow this tradition. However, the Double Tau is reserved for use by the Patriarch and the Primate.
The Clergy: The Priesthood
The Priesthood of E.G.C. includes both Priests and Priestesses. Priests and Priestesses have the Sacerdotal power and authority to celebrate the Gnostic Mass as representatives of E.G.C. within O.T.O. A Bishop may also delegate to them the authority to ordain Deacons and perform baptisms, confirmations and last rites; and, in certain cases, to perform weddings. Priests and Priestesses are expected to coordinate their work with a Bishop.
Priests and Priestesses within E.G.C. must be Initiate members in good standing of at least the Knight of the East and West (KEW) degree. Their ordination must be reported to and recorded by the Grand Secretary General and the Ecclesiastical Secretary. They must be Lay members in E.G.C. prior to their ordination. The Primate may allow lay members to take on limited duties and authority of the Priesthood under the supervision of a Bishop.
Priests and Priestesses of E.G.C. have the responsibility of serving as official representatives of E.G.C. within O.T.O. Any public celebration of the Gnostic Mass which involves the participation of a recognized Priest or Priestess of E.G.C. as an officer is by definition an official O.T.O. event and is subject to all the policies of O.T.O. regarding official O.T.O. events.
The Clergy: The Diaconate
The Deacons of E.G.C. are ordained assistants to the Priests and Priestesses. Deacons within E.G.C. must be Initiate members in good standing of at least Second Degree (First Degree with the permission of the Primate); and their ordination must be recorded by the Grand Secretary General and the Ecclesiastical Secretary. Prior to their ordination, they must have been accorded Lay membership in E.G.C.
At this time, Deacons have the power and authority only to assist recognized Priests and Priestesses of E.G.C. in the performance of their duties. They are not considered as official representatives of E.G.C.
Initiate members of any degree who have been accorded Lay membership in E.G.C. may undergo a period of Novitiate training under the supervision of a Bishop, to prepare them for ordination as Priest, Priestess or Deacon. Such Initiate members may participate in the celebration of the Gnostic Mass as Novice Priests, Priestesses and Deacons.
Novice status is not formally recognized by the Order, and is not included in the Order's records.
Lay Membership in E.G.C. is conferred by the ceremony of confirmation, which must be preceded by the ceremony of baptism. Lay Membership conveys no authority or special privileges within E.G.C. The Patriarch may, from time to time, modify or waive the ceremonial requirements for Lay membership in E.G.C.
Baptism is open to any person at least 11 years old. Baptism does not confer Lay Membership. Confirmation is open to any person who has been baptized and who has attained the age of puberty. Baptism or confirmation for any person less than 18 years of age requires the prior written consent of the custodial parent(s) or legal guardian(s). Baptism and confirmation are public ceremonies.
Bishops in Amity
Bishops from affiliated or distant branches of the Gnostic Church with or without an historical connection with O.T.O. may affiliate with O.T.O. upon mutual recognition. Such Bishops shall affiliate as Advisory members of E.G.C., and shall be known as "Bishops in Amity."
Advisory membership in E.G.C. confers no clerical authority within E.G.C.
Original Text Borrowed From: William Blake Lodge