From the beginning, Christians have set apart (consecrated) leaders by invoking the Holy Spirit through prayer and the laying on of hands. Initially this was done by the apostles whom Jesus himself had chosen. Although not all Christian groups view a chain of successive imposition of hands reaching back to the apostles as crucial, nearly all Christian groups employ already ordained ministers in the ordination ceremony. All Christian groups, as discussed in this section, do recognize some...
In the New Testament, leaders were set apart for ministry by the laying on of hands accompanied by prayer. Although elaborate ceremonies emerged that were later eliminated by the Protestant Reformers, laying on of hands with a prayer for consecration remained a constant characteristic of ordination.
The main distinction among Christians in the question of ordination remains the matter of apostolic succession of bishops, who in turn are responsible for ordination of other ministers. Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and the Eastern Orthodox believe in a direct succession of ordination from the time of the apostles. Other churches, even though they have leaders they call bishops, do not view them in direct apostolic succession. The ecumenical consensus statement on Baptism, Eucharist, and Ministry (1982) attempts to rejoin the two positions by referring to a general continuity in apostolic ministry.
The following liturgy for the ordination of a priest is taken from the 1979 revision of The Book of Common Prayer of the Episcopal Church (USA).
The following guidelines are intended especially for those whose churches do not have a required ordination service. They may also be of assistance to those who must use a particular liturgy.