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Church Hierarchy

Every diocese has its own Bishop. Bishop is the highest title of dignity and every clergyman serving at this level (metropolitan, archbishop and bishop) can be called Bishop. The next lower level is occupied by the pastors (Presbyters). They are entitled to head the life of the parishes in cities and villages. Pastors are subdivided into priests and archpriests. The oldest priest of the parish is called the Archpriest.

The lowest level of clergy is the Deacon. They help Bishops and Priests to perform the mysteries, they do not do it by themselves. The older deacons are called archdeacons.

Monks (hermits) are called "black" clergy since they vowed not to marry (as opposed to the "white" clergy who are married). There are three stages of monastic life: ryasophor, mantle (or minor schema) and schema. Ryasophor means "the one wearing ryasa" (ryasa is an everyday long garment of monks with wide sleeves). Minor schema and greater schema ("form," "image") are higher levels. They are characterized by stricter vows.

All the archpriests are monks. Their titles when translated from Greek mean: "patriarch" — "forefather," "metropolitan" — "a person from the main clan," (Patriarchs or metropolitans are the heads of all church organizations in Orthodox countries.); ‘bishop" — "overseer," "archbishop" — "chief pastor" (bishops and archbishops, rarely metropolitans, are responsible for the church and administrative areas which are called diocese.

The monastic clergy are called archmonks, Father Superiors and archimandrites. Archimandrite ("the supervisor of caves") is the head of a big monastery or lavra (largest monasteries). Some monks get that title as an award for his long and fruitful service to the Church. Father Superior ("the leader") is the head of a usual monastery or a parish church. The monks who are priests vowed to schema are called archschemamonks, archfather Superiors and schemarchimandrites. Monks serving as deacons are called hierodeacons, the older ones — archdeacons.

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