09 July 2008
Along with four other ordinands who were trained at Wesley House, I was ordained as a Presbyter '..of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church of Christ' at 4:30 on Sunday the 6th of July 2008 at Toll Gavel United Church in Beverley. Past President of Conference Ian White presided and past President of Conference Inderjit Bhogal preached. For those who know Inderjit Bhogal, it was hardly surprising that he preached on justice, inclusivity and interfaith dialogue: a message that my non-church going husband appreciated very much.
One of the scariest bits of the ordination service for the ordinands comes early in the service when the congregation is told to declare 'they are worthy'. This is something that is hard to hear because, of course, no individual is 'worthy' of any kind of ministry in and of themselves, but only through the grace of Christ. This sounds overly-pious as I write it, but one thing that came home to me on the retreat is my own inadequacy for this office and how much I genuinely need to rely on the grace and power of God in order to serve God and my neighbour.
The laying on of hands happened after the sermon and the recitation of the Nicene Creed and before the prayers of intercession and communion. We were asked to declare our lifelong commitment to ordained ministry, to affirm scripture as revealing all things necessary for salvation through Jesus Christ, to affirm that we believe in the doctrines of the Christian Church, that we accept the discipline of 'this church' and that we will be faithful in worship, prayer and in receiving Holy Communion.
I was officially ordained by past President of Conference Ian White - who represents the entire Connexion in this service. I had hands laid on me by a Bolivian bishop and my assisting minister and friend, Mark. Hands were laid on the five of us whilst we knelt and it was done carefully and thoughtfully - not a rushed job! I had my eyes closed, but it was a moment that I will never forget for the rest of my life. Perhaps the most special bit was the fact that, after having hands laid upon me, Ian White put his hand on my shoulder and said 'Bless you' as a father might have done to a beloved daughter; it felt very personal and warm.
Following the laying on of hands, close friends and family of each ordinand came up to the communion rail and took communion with 'their' ordinand; this was also very special.
As you might expect at a Methodist service, there was lots of rousing hymn-singing. The traditional ordination hymns as laid out in The Methodist Worship Book were sung as well as a number of more contemporary hymns and songs during the distribution of communion. My two Roman Catholic friends who attended the ordination had not heard of the Methodist reputation for hymn-singing and were somewhat surprised - albeit pleasantly, I think.
Just like the service of Reception into Full Connexion, this was a very special service. The whole day felt joyful and perfect and, personally, I enjoyed having the two very different sorts of services.
(I have posted photographs of both the Reception into Full Connexion and the Ordination on the 'web but I don't want to give a link here. Please email me and I will send you the URL for the photos.)