The Shape of Things to Come
The Ecclesiarchy (officially the Adeptus Ministorum) is the only official state church of the Imperium. It maintains and spreads the Imperial Cult throughout the Imperium. Although the interpretation of particular Imperial Cult dogmas varies through the Imperium, any extreme deviance from its strictures is considered heresy and dealt with great severity. The Ecclesiarchy is based on Terra, its urban palace covering nearly all of the southernmost continent.
The Ecclesiarchy is not part of the Adeptus Terra, but a wholly separate organisation. At its head is the Ecclesiarch, who, by tradition, is always one of the High Lords of Terra. Below him are the Cardinals, of which there are several thousand. Below the Cardinals are the Ministorum Priests: Deacons, Pontifices, Confessors, Missionaries and Preachers. Other specialist ranks and duties include Cenobites, Relic-Keepers, and Chapel-Masters.
The Ministorum’s ruling body is the Holy Synod, comprising the organisation’s Cardinals. The Ministorum in turn divides the Imperium into thousands of dioceses, each generally encompassing an entire Imperial world – an exception being Terra, which has several dioceses. A diocese is further divided into parishes centered around a shrine. Each diocese is headed by a Cardinal, while each parish is headed by a Preacher. Ranking between these individuals are Pontifices whose authority extends over several parishes and preachers within a single diocese.
The Ministorum also includes an administrative bureaucracy, the Creed Temporal, headed by Arch-Deacons, which controls all secular business. Arch-Deacons are the administrative counterparts to Cardinals, responsible for the temporal affairs of an entire diocese. Their servants deal with the money entering and leaving a specific diocese or parish, regulate the construction of new shrines and temples and deal with the other physical requirements of the organisation.
As the Ministorum’s power has grown, a number of sub-organisations have developed within its compass. An interesting example of this is the Adepta Sororitas, a penitent order of women. The Sisterhood, as it is generally known, is expected to maintain a close watch on all servants and departments of the Imperium. Its Militant Orders, the Sisters of Battle, act as the military arm of the Ecclesiarchy.
The unofficial armies of the Ministorum. The religiously-motivated Frateris fight wars of faith against the enemies of the Imperium.
Missionary work is an important institution of the Ecclesiarchy, its purpose is to bring rediscovered human worlds into the fold of the Imperial cult. For this purpose, Missionaries always accompany Imperial exploratory vessels in case human worlds are rediscovered.
Missionaries also run charitable Missions, which are schools or hospitals on newly discovered or primitive worlds. When human worlds are rediscovered Missions are usually immediately established. Part of the purpose of these Missions is to further the worship of the Emperor and Imperial ideals. They are also vital in evaluating populations for signs of psychic and genetic mutation, and many missionaries have medical backgrounds for this reason.
Schola Progenium are the orphanages run by the Ministorum specifically to raise and train the sons and daughters of Imperial servants who have given their lives in service. The orphans receive a strict orthodox Imperial cult education, and soon come to regard the Emperor as their spiritual father. Their upbringings will have made them loyal and devoted adherents to the Imperial cause and instilled in them a selfless ambition to serve the Imperium and humanity. These qualities make them well suited to service in many of the organisations of the Imperium – the schools of the Schola Progenium providing a good portion of Imperial Guard and Navy officials, Commissars, Assassins, Arbitrators and Inquisitors. Female progena often enter the Adepta Sororitas. Other progena become members of the Ministorum clergy