Ordination is the process in which clergy become authorized by their religious denomination and/or seminary to perform religious rituals and ceremonies or otherwise to minister in a clerical capacity.

In the Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Anglican and Oriental Orthodox churches, the ordination is the same thing as Holy Orders and can be adminstered only by a bishop in a line of succession of bishops dating back to the Apostles. The Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, and Oriental Orthodox churches hold that ordination to the priesthood confers supernatural powers including the power to perform the transubstantiation, the power to absolve the sins of penitents, and various others.

In most Protestant churches, ordination is the rite by which the Church

  • recognizes and confirms that an individual's has been called by God to the ministry of Word and Sacrament,
  • acknowledges that the individual has gone through a period of discernment and training related to this call, and
  • authorizes that individual to take on the office of ministry.

For the sake of authorization and church order (and not for reason of 'powers' or 'ability'), individuals in most mainline Protestant churches must be ordained in order to preside at the sacraments (Baptism and Holy Communion) and to be installed as a called pastor of a congregation/parish.

Weddings: Ordination is often a requirement specified in state laws to officiate weddings. In those jurisdictions where ordination is not required by secular law, it is left to the requirements of the particular denomination/church whether ordination is required to officiate weddings.

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