More Baptist pastors adopt bishop title
The only outward sign that something was different was the new ring on the pastor’s finger, a thick gold ring with a purple stone. It symbolized his recent elevation, in a ceremony in Memphis two weeks before, to the position of bishop.
The title of bishop, accompanied by such emblems of authority, was uncommon among hierarchy-spurning Baptists until recently, but it is being adopted by a growing number of Baptist pastors, most of them African-American. Borders and other new bishops have acquired some of the ceremonial garb — croziers (pastoral staffs), zucchettos (skullcaps) and chasubles (robes) — that their spiritual forefathers left behind when they broke from the Church of England in the 17th century. Some, including Borders, have even embraced the doctrine of apostolic succession — the belief in an unbroken line from Jesus’ apostles to today’s bishops.
Borders, a sober man who regards his flock with obvious affection, spoke lightly of his role as shepherd during his sermon.
“When I watch you,’’ he said with a smile, “I see a congregation of miracles.’’
But he also believes the new title has been a spiritual catalyst, deepening his faith and clarifying his role as mentor to more than two dozen men and women who have become ministers or pastors under his tutelage over the course of nearly three decades.
“I’m changing; I feel myself getting closer to the Lord Jesus Christ, and I think I understand my mission more,’’ he said. “The notion of being a successor to the apostles, even in a spiritual point of view, kind of grounds you differently.’’...more
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