There are currently six recognized classes of Church membership, the Children, the People, the Deacons, the Templars, the Priesthood, and the Episcopate. The Episcopate is composed of the Bishops, the Priesthood of the Priestesses and Priests. The Templars maintain the Temples, while the Deacons act as assistants to the Templars. The People are the Lay Members of the Church. The Children have received the Sacrament of Baptism, but are not yet full members of the Church.
Those who have been baptized into the Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis, but have not yet been confirmed are known as Children. Baptism is open to any person of at least 18 years of age, but does not, in itself, confer Membership. The Children are not recognized as full members of the Church, and as such are not eligible to vote in matters put before the People.
Membership in Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis is conferred by the ceremony of confirmation, which must be preceded by the ceremony of baptism. Confirmation is open to any person who has been baptized. Membership confers the Right to Vote within Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis: The People have the right to vote on any matter referred to them by the College of Bishops. They also have the right to petition the College of Bishops with the assistance of any Templar.
The Deacons are Members of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis who have established a working relationship with any Templar. A Deacon must be a confirmed member of the People, and must be recognized by one or more Templars who thereby grant the Deacon the power and authority to perform the role of Deacon in Gnostic Masses celebrated in their Temples.
The Templars of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis act as Deacons for the Priestesses and Priests. However, the Templar has a broader role in Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis. A Templar maintains a Temple suitable for the celebration of the Gnostic Mass, preferably in his or her own home. A Templar must be a confirmed member of the People, and must be recognized by a Bishop, together they establish a Temple of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis. The Templars also assist the Episcopate when Church matters are referred to the People for a vote, and when the People put a Petition before the College of Bishops.
The Priesthood of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis includes both Priestesses and Priests. They have the power and authority within Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis to celebrate Gnostic Masses. They also have the power and authority to perform baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and last rites. Priests and Priestesses of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis must be confirmed members of the People, and must be recognized by a Bishop. However, they operate independently under the authority of the College of Bishops as a whole.
Bishops have the power and authority within Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis to celebrate Gnostic Masses; to recognize Priestesses, Priests and Templars of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis; and to perform baptisms, confirmations, marriages, and last rites.
Bishops furthermore hold the power and authority to establish Temples of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis: one for each Templar who has chosen to work together with the Bishop for this purpose. Bishops may also establish and maintain their own Temple.
Bishops collectively hold the power and authority to recognize new Bishops of Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis; however, the recognition of a new Bishop requires the agreement and participation of three Bishops. Please note that consecration by laying on of hands is not a part of our tradition. All of our Bishops are self-made men and women, being recognized, not made, by their peers.
Gnostic Bishops of the Ecclesia Gnostica Universalis may be of either sex; female Bishops preface their Mystic Name with the Hebrew letter “Shin” or “Sh”, while male Bishops assume a Mystic Name prefaced with the Hebrew letter “Tau” or “Th”. The Shin represents the Hebrew word Shekinah, the divine feminine presence or Shakti, as well as the triple flame of the Spirit, the threefold mantra of the Dakini, and numerous other Mysteries. The Hebrew Tau represents the shape of the body of Nuit.