So before I begin I think some background info regarding what priesthood is in Community of Christ might be helpful. Do keep in mind that this is my personal interpretation and everyone’s experiences differ depending on local leadership.
Priesthood is not something everyone is ushered into by default. There is a huge amount of people who never go into priesthood at all. Additionally, priesthood isn’t something that you have the rest of your life. You could be in priesthood for 2 years and then decide that you don’t want to do it anymore. Priesthood is more like a calling than a duty.
This is a chart which lays out the duties of each priesthood office very well. The Aaronic priesthood is for more locally based things whereas the Melchizedec priesthood (note: spelled differently in CoC) is for more administrative and church-wide callings.
Before I joined, CoC’s priesthood was described to me as “charismatic”, meaning that if you feel drawn to it and act on it that’s really kind of your calling; its more descriptive than prescriptive. You can be vocal about the calling you feel and local leadership will take it into account. Your local leadership, like your pastor, will talk about formalizing your call with a priesthood calling.
Before you are ordained into priesthood there are a couple classes you have to take through “Temple School“. The first of these include things like “Introduction to Scripture”, “Introduction to Priesthood Ministry”, and then the course for the specific priesthood office. These classes help you understand what the role of the priesthood office entails a bit more and gives you some resources and things to think about as you move forward.
I believe most if not all of the Aaronic priesthood classes can be taken digitally at this point. However, for the Melchizedec priesthood it is preferred that you go to the Independence temple for a bit more hands on instruction. At the temple there is a library and several class rooms for Temple school.
That being said, let’s talk about the School of the Prophets. The School of the Prophets/School of the Elders was founded on January 23, 1833 for theological and secular education. It was chiefly created to prepare and instruct all church officers for ministry. One of the original purposes of the Kirtland Temple was to house this theological school (See: D&C 85/LDS D&C 88).
I was talking with John Hamer, who is my pastor, the other day about priesthood and it just clicked: Temple School IS the School of the Prophets. Their purposes (instruction for ministry) and even their intended location (the temple) is the same. The biggest difference, to me, is just the name.
To me the School of the Prophets is something sort of mystic that happened nearly 200 years ago. However, it is alive, well, and mundane in Community of Christ. This blew my mind.
Anyway, I thought this was a neat thing and others might find it mildly amusing.