Many of you may not be aware, but this month I will experience the end of a process that began in 2002 with a surrendered to God's call on my life to be used by him.
I know many of my old friends and teachers would be shocked to see me taking this step. For most of my early life was spent in rebellion to God rather than submission to Him, but...here I am.
The road to ordination began when my wife and I were on our way to one of my best friend's wedding in Mississippi in 2006. I was on staff at my "home" church as the youth ministry director and sensing that God was moving us to take a permanent step into ministry. We prayed the whole weekend about where God was leading us and if we were willing to follow him. On the flight back to BWI, we agreed that we would trust God. We had no idea how he would provide for us, but we would commit to follow him. As we landed in Baltimore we prayed that God would begin to show us our next steps.
When we got to luggage claim area, our luggage was delayed...and delayed...and delayed. I began to talk to the man next to me as we waited; and as we talked we were interrupted by a man who gave us both his card and then asked if either of us had ever considered going to...get this....if either of us had considered going to seminary. I was blown away...to the point that all I could do was laugh. I showed the card to my wife and she took off her shoes right away, proclaiming that this was holy ground!
It was a powerful moment in my life as God confirmed that he was with us, and would be with us, no matter what. In response, I pledged to keep doing His thing.
That was 13 years ago now. This road has not been easy. I have faced challenges - far beyond finances. And all along the way, God has shown up. Don't get me wrong, many times along the way I have questioned the process....part of the reason it has taken so long to complete. Several times I have made alternate plans for ministry, but in one of my latest seasons of wrestling and questioning a friend and mentor asked me a question that kept me in the process; "What is your calling? Do that." Here we are.
So what does ordination mean? It's part of our understanding of baptism. That grace works in his people to guide them to particular vocations for God's glory. In my case, that was vocational ministry for the renewal and revitalization of the local church.
In ordination, my membership changes from the local church (KIUMC) to the conference. I become a member with other ordained elders. Just as a baptized member I supported my fellow church members, now as an elder I support the other clergy in my conference. The moment I am ordained, I forfeit my church membership. (This applies to those online ordinations as well as the ordained are not a part of the local church.)
I now look forward to serving the church in helping my fellow clergy lead revitalization in their local church, to see God's church in our conference sharpen it's focus on reaching people outside our congregations; to see our communities transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit working through His church.