The Church of Diakonoff in the Human lands is formed from two main sects. The first, and largest sect, is formally called the Order of Divine Faith. This sect concerns itself with spreading the word of Diakonoff amongst the laity. The second sect is formally called the Order of Divine Law, and is much smaller than that of Divine Faith. As Diakonoff is the god of justice his scriptures are filled with rules and laws set down through divine inspiration. The Order of Divine Law focuses on interpreting these maxims, enacting them, and defining Church canon. This division in the Church represents a system of checks and balances aimed to promote the true message of Diakonoff, but in reality the sects are often at loggerheads in a grab for power.
At the bottom of the hierarchy of both orders are the ordinary priests and clerics known to all. These represent the lowest rank of authority within the Church but they differ little between the sects. Churches and cathedrals are preeminent among the Order of Divine Faith, while smaller abbeys and chapels are commonly overseen by the Order of Divine Law, though this is not always the case. Each of these structures in the settled Human lands can have a host of ancillary administrating officials such as rectors, pastors, and abbots. Above these junior stations the orders split in their hierarchies.
The Order of Divine Faith
Within the Divine Faith sect, the next senior position is that of Bishop. Bishops lead the faith of a number of regionally grouped churches. Church authority within each province in Alessandria is lead by an Archbishop. Similarly, as Grendon is a land of petty duchies, kingdoms, and principalities, Church authority within these is usually headed by an Archbishop as well. Archbishops report to Ecclesiarchs, whom are considered the leaders of faith for entire peoples and the heads of the Order of Divine Faith. The leader of the Church is called the High Ecclesiarch. The High Ecclesiarch heads both the Order of Divine Faith and the Order of Divine Law.
Within the Human Church of Diakonoff there are seven Ecclesiarchs. They represent, and act as Church ambassadors to, every civilized kingdom and race in Merdensa. The offices of Ecclesiarch comprise of one for the kingdom of Alessandria, one for the lands of Grendon, one for the Elven kingdom, one for the Sethen kingdom, two for the Dwarven kingdoms, and one for the Oelyte people.
To understand the role of the Ecclesiarchs it is instructive to view a historical standpoint. Hundreds of years before the modern day there existed a number of Human kingdoms. The Church of Diakonoff within each of these kingdoms was headed by an Ecclesiarch, while the supreme Church leader was still the High Ecclesiarch. As time marched on kingdoms dissolved or were conquered, which displaced many Ecclesiarchs. While they still held on to the title, many Ecclesiarchs no longer represented a single kingdom. Twenty years before the establishment of the Peace Council the Human Church of Diakonoff held the Council of Masia to restructure the cluttered Church hierarchy.
At this time only two major Human lands still existed: Alessandria and Grendon. Within the confines of Alessandria six Ecclesiarchs remained while Grendon boasted only one, a relic from the unification (and subsequent collapse) of the Grendonic Empire. An accord was reached to reshuffle the authority of the seven Ecclesiarchs. The fiercely independent Grendon Ecclesiarch was able to retain his sole authority of that land and it was ruled that only one Ecclesiarch would represent Alessandria. The Elves, Sethen, and Oelytes were each assigned an Ecclesiarch representative. The ten Dwarven kingdoms were then divided between the remaining two Ecclesiarchs as an analog to the two Ecclesiarchs representing all of the Human kingdoms. The head of Human Church of Diakonoff remained the High Ecclesiarch.
This structure remains in place to the current day. While the seven Ecclesiarchs are the heads of the Order of Divine Faith amongst the Human lands they have little to no power outside of Alessandria and Grendon. The Diakonoff Churches among the non-Human kingdoms consider them merely as ambassadors. Of the seven Ecclesiarchs, only the one representing the Elven kingdom is non-Human. This position has been held by an Elf since around the time of the Peace Council when the previous Human who held the title passed away. The Oelytes, having no actual lands to call their own, have been eager to have an Oelyte named as the Ecclesiarch representing their race since the inception of the office. To this date their pleas have gone largely unheard by the High Ecclesiarch. It has been said, however, that the results of the Council of Masia provided a stepping stone for the Oelytes in the formation of the Peace Council.
The Order of Divine Law
As stated above, the Order of Divine Law mostly concerns itself with interpreting and enacting the laws of the Church of Diakonoff. The scriptures of Diakonoff form a basis for the laws of nearly every civilized land in Merdensa. This order is much less fractured than the Order of Divine Faith. The next senior position above the common cleric and priest in this order is that of Consul. Consuls act as lawyers within the order and usually head small abbeys and chapels. If a query is made about Church law Consuls will be appointed to study precedents for and against the law in question. They will then present their findings to a Prelate.
Prelates serve as judges within the Church as well as sometimes outside of it. A number of secular officials in Alessandria and Grendon will refer to a Prelate in matters of law. Prelates sometimes serve as secular judges and judicial champions within the Human lands. The lands a single Prelate presides over is not set but nearly all major geographical regions will have an odd-numbered panel of Prelates that make rulings regarding Church law. These panels usually range between five and eleven individuals.
The head of the Order of Divine Law is the Arch Prelate. The Arch Prelate is the supreme interpreter of Church law within the Human lands. It was the office of Arch Prelate that was responsible for organizing the Council of Masia. This position is roughly equivalent to that of Ecclesiarch. The Ecclesiarchs of the Order of Divine Faith are often jealous of the power the Arch Prelate wields within the Church. Even the High Ecclesiarch is subject to the rulings of the Arch Prelate, though he has considerable sway in their enactment. Any High Ecclesiarch that wishes to be in any way productive during his tenure in office must be in the good graces of the Arch Prelate. Technically, the Arch Prelate has the authority to call into question any decision of the High Ecclesiarch, and potentially rule it heretical. It is this power which can “gum up” the wheels of Church bureaucracy. Edicts from within the Order of Divine Faith can fall under intense scrutiny by the Order of Divine Law.
The Arch Prelate resides in the Duchy of Leikheim in Alessandria. Traditionally, the office was stationed in Grendon but was forced out during the infamous Carolusian Wars. The Grendon Ecclesiarch has done his best to keep the Arch Prelate from returning to his traditional realm.
Most templar orders in the Human lands fall under the jurisdiction of the Arch Prelate. This gives the Order of Divine Law extensive muscle that the Order of Divine Faith is jealous over. In less populated areas traveling templars will act as judges in remote villages. These landless Church knights, known as templar judicators, are quite common in Grendon where the peasantry is often repressed. Few corrupt landholders in Grendon will question the rulings of a templar judicator in order save themselves from the ire of the order. Instead, they hope these traveling judges do not return again for months.
Succession with Human Church of Diakonoff happens mostly from the top down. Anyone is free to join the Church and offices are held for life unless abdicated, or the holders are found to be in contempt of the ways of Diakonoff. At which point, they are brought before a panel of Prelates.
Heads of individual churches, cathedrals, abbeys, etc… are either appointed by their direct superior (a Bishop or Prelate) or are agreed upon by the priests and clerics within. Bishops are appointed by their respective Archbishops and Archbishops by their respective Ecclesiarchs. Similary, Prelates will appoint a Consul, and the Arch Prelate will appoint Prelates.
The Ecclesiarchs are chosen by the High Ecclesiarch, but this is not limited by geographical boundaries. Any Archbishop may find himself elevated to the station of Ecclesiarch. The Arch Prelate, however, is chosen by the Prelates, from the Prelates. This method of succession helps the Arch Prelate be impartial and lessens the chance of corruption within the office.
When the High Ecclesiarch passes on, the seven Ecclesiarchs and the Arch Prelate meet to choose a successor from their ranks. While technically the Arch Prelate is a candidate to be chosen as the High Ecclesiarch, this almost never happens. Usually, a voting bloc among the Ecclesiarchs will choose which of themselves will be the new Church head. The Grendon Ecclesiarch will almost always vote against the Arch Prelate. In the case of a tie the Arch Prelate decides the victor.
The New World
A subtle race has begun for the religious control of Haldenweald. Both the Order of Divine Faith and the Order of Divine Law have sent a number of priests and clerics to the New World. The Order of Divine Faith has seemingly trumped the Order of Divine Law, however, by sending a Bishop to officiate Church matters. Back in the Old World, discussions are raging about the proper canonical procedure for appointing a Prelate to oversee a new land such as Feragothe.