WORSHIP | Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Service of Commissioning for Ministry, Ordination of Elders and Deacons and Recognition of Associate Members
By Rev. Robin D. Dillon*
The dimensions of God’s Spirit were ablaze during the opening processional as the gathered community -- of “all persuasions” – sang “God of rainbow, fiery pillar, leading where the eagles soar; we your people, ours the journey, now and evermore.”
As the candidates and other service participants took their places on the stage, our Bishop Tracy Smith Malone ceremoniously sprinkled the waters of baptism, reminding all that through the sacrament of baptism, Christians are called by God to the priesthood of all believers.
Conference Lay Leader Greg Rentsch, Board of Ordained Ministry chairwoman Cara Stultz Costello and others from the BOM presented six candidates for commissioning as provisional elders, one candidate for commissioning as provisional deacon, one candidate for the recognition as an associate member and six candidates for ordination as elders. The Bishop examined these persons and all affirmed their commitment to the work to which they have been called “with the help of God.”
Following two scripture readings from 2 Timothy 1: 6 – 10 and John 15: 9 – 17, the bishop addressed the candidates, reminding them that they were “chosen on purpose” and appointed to bear fruit that will last. Recalling a framework set out by Paul to Timothy, she said, “As those who are called and set apart for pastoral ministry, we celebrate your journey of faith and the manifestation of God’s Spirit that is already at work through you and tonight we give thanks for your ‘yes’ to answering God’s calling on your life.” She referenced Paul’s prayer for Timothy, empowering them to have courage to lead. “Having a firm faith conviction leads to courageous and bold leadership,” and when we are convinced of God’s call, we are empowered. She commended three convictions from Paul’s prayer for those being commissioned, ordained and recognized.
First, “Keep alive the gift of the Spirit that is upon you; the gift of the sacred vows that you are taking today.” There will be times when discouragement, distraction or disillusionment come, but “don’t forget that you’re saved.”
Secondly, “Be bold in your witness.” Do not be ashamed of the gospel. It is not popular to be bold and prophetic, but we are charged to do it. Be a voice and speak truth to power. “Shift the atmosphere;” edify, build up and encourage; redefine the boundaries of who is in and who is out.
And lastly, “Keep at work.” What defines the church is our integrity of discipleship, the integrity of our love and the relevancy of our mission. Don’t grow weary in doing good. Keep at work and stay focused on the mission of the church. Watch God do what God promised He would do.
After the laying on of hands and prayers for the ordinands, the congregation reaffirmed their professing membership in The United Methodist Church to uphold it by their prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness and affirmed their support of those clergy who were recognized, commissioned and ordained in this service. Bishop Malone then extended an invitation to those who might be feeling a nudge from God to explore ministry. Several responded to this invitation to ministry and went forward to meet and pray with representatives of the Board of Ordained Ministry while the congregation sang “The Summons.”
The service concluded with a benediction by newly-ordained elder Mollie Brown and newly-commissioned provisional elder Dawan Buie.
*Robin Dillon is the pastor at LeRoy UMC in Westfield Center