Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Ordination in the United Methodist Church

As promised earlier, here are some notes on the meaning of ordination in the church. Above is a picture of someone being ordained last week at Annual Conference. The Bishop ordains pastors.

As you can see in the picture above, our Bishop is Mary Virginia Taylor on the left; beside her is Bishop Robert Spain who preached the Ordination sermon and now assists in the ordination. The person kneeling is the one being ordained. Behind him is a pastor/friend who assists the bishop.

The act of Ordination is a “laying on of the hands” by those in authority to convey authority to the newly ordained person. "Laying on of the hands" is about giving the Holy Spirit.

We Methodists have never been that particular about apostolic succession, and yet we do stand in line with all those who have been ordained before us all the way back to the apostles and Jesus. We believe that every baptized Christian is a minister, an ambassador of Jesus Christ in the world, doing the priestly work of reaching out in Christ’s name. In baptism and confirmation, in the tradition of the church, we lay hands on someone and set them aside to be disciples of Jesus Christ. Think of it, all the way back to Jesus who laid hands on the disciples, and the apostles who laid hands on others, and John Wesley who laid hands on his preachers, to this day, we stand in the line of those who came before.

In ordination, a pastor is told to “take authority”. Elders are ordained to preach the word, administer the sacraments, order the life of the congregation and serve in the world. A Deacon is ordained to service and may serve in specific areas like youth or music ministry, for example. Ordained people have been educated and trained and have now taken on the responsibility of being a pastor in the church. At ordination the stole is placed around the neck to symbolize the “yoke of Christ”. Jesus says: “Take my yoke upon you…”

There are some who serve in the United Methodist Church who are not ordained. They are local pastors who serve under appointment of the Bishop and serve only in that congregation. Elders and Deacons have a ministry to anyone, anywhere.

Elders promise to go where they are sent and are therefore promised to always have a place of service. Deacons arrange for their own work and the Bishop affirms it. The Church (big C) has always set aside persons for the role of pastor in the church. You have two ordained Elders (Senior pastor and Associate pastor) at Bethel.

After extensive testing and investigation, education and training, persons go before a body of their peers ( the Board of Ordained Ministry) to answer any questions about doctrine, belief, or practice. After they pass the Board, they are ordained at Annual Conference and sent out to serve the church in the world. To be ordained means to be “set aside” for a particular purpose. I am proud to be an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church. Blessings! Dave Nichols

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