The Assyrian church claims to be a continuation of the historical Patriarchate of Seleucia-Ctesiphon – which is the Church of the East, and is among the oldest Christian churches in Mesopotamia. The church has its headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq. The Assyrian Church of the East recognizes nine positions in its hierarchy, such as the Patriarch, Metropolitan, Bishop Archdeacon Cor-Bishop Deaconand Sub deacon and the Reader. These nine positions are described below:
He is the superior head of the church, and looks after all dioceses of the church. He is considered to be the highest-ranking bishop, above the archbishop and primate in the Assyrian Church hierarchy.
Dioceses are structured into ecclesiastical provinces under jurisdiction of a Metropolitan. He belongs to the highest rank of the three traditional orders of deacons, priests and bishop He belongs to the category of bishops which also includes patriarchs, metropolitans, popes, cardinal bishops, suffragan bishops, diocesan bishops, etc., One can become an archbishop by ordination or being granted the title as chief pastor of a metropolitan.
The church is endowed with Episcopal polity, which means it is organized into dioceses, and each of them is headed by a bishop. In the Assyrian Church as well as the Roman Catholic and the Old Catholic churches, bishops demand apostolic succession, which is a direct lineage in history and dates back to Twelve Apostles.
Within these churches, the bishops are regarded as worthy of attaining clergy for possessing full priesthood. The person who has been consecrated deacon, priest, and bishop is considered to have attained complete priesthood and thereby have been given the responsibility by Lord Christ to teach, govern, and sanctify the Christ body. Priests, lay ministers and deacons cooperate and help their bishop(s) to shepherd a flock.
An archdeacon is a senior clergy position in the Assyrian Church Hierarchy. He is responsible for the administration of an archdeaconry which is the main subdivision of a diocese.
He is responsible of assisting the bishop in his work.
He looks after a parish and performs the rituals of a religion, and is considered to be a mediatory agent in between humans and deities. He is also bestowed the authority to govern rites of religion, sacrifice and the propitiation of deities. He is aided by Subdeacons, Readers and Deacon.
It means servant and is the ministry in the Assyrian Church which is associated with service, but varies among denominational and theological traditions.
A hypodeacon or subdeacon is among the highest of clergy minor orders in the Assyrian Church. This rank is higher than reader and lesser than the deaco
The reader is entrusted the duty of reading aloud scripture excerpts at a liturgy. He was of paramount importance earlier due to the rarity in literacy.
All the members of a clergy have the authority to baptize, preach, conduct funeral liturgies and witness marriages, though Deacons, Readers and the Sub deacons, only assume the role of an assistant. Only those with a rank higher than a deacon can do the sacraments of the Eucharist, though the others could be ministers of the Holy Communion. Administering the sacrament of Holy Orders (consecrating a person into the clergy) are limited to only the Bishops, Patriarch and the Metropolitans.