Since my ordination in June, I’ve had quite a few people ask me questions about what it means exactly and how or if things will change for me. So I thought I’d take this chance to address some of them in case you might be wondering the same things.
Does this make you equal with Michael? It’s not really a matter of equality. The United Methodist Church ordains two types of clergy: Elders and Deacons. One isn’t higher than the other; to be ordained as either requires a person to earn a Master’s Degree. Rather, Elders and Deacons have different areas of focus. Deacons tend to focus on specific areas in a church like music or Christian education or in ministries outside of a church like hospital chaplaincy or prison ministries or non-profit charity leadership. It’s a bit unusual to have a Deacon act as an assistant pastor. But then again, we’re a slightly unusual collective, aren’t we?
Now that you’re ordained, does this mean the conference can move you? No, they can’t. Part of the difference between Elders and Deacons is itinerancy. Elders agree to go where the Bishop sends them in exchange of always having an appointment (a job) at a church. Deacons are not guaranteed an appointment like Elders are but instead have to find their own appointments. The exchange Deacons make is that they don’t have to itinerate. My ministry at SHUMC ends when you get sick of me or I get sick of you. So don’t push it, okay?
How do things change for you and the church now that you’re ordained? Quite simply, they really don’t—other than I have a lot less paperwork to complete and turn in. One person came up to me and said they read the requirements for ordination of a deacon in the Book of Discipline and were shocked at what they were! There are about 13 questions that require essay answers that usually require three to five pages per question to answer. My understanding of theology was cross examined thoroughly at yearly meetings with the Board of Ordained Ministry—the group of pastors and lay members who decide to recommend a candidate’s ordination or not. And there’s always the “oops, we need you to do one more thing” clause that’s included in the process. (Here’s my secret: Remember our big anniversary party last year? Yep, it was a Board of Ministry thing.) After doing all of these things annually for the last three years, I’m glad to have all of that behind. But as far as what that means for changes in the ministry of SHUMC, there really aren’t any. We’ll all keep serving God together and see what He has in store for us!
I am so grateful for all of the love and support you have shown me not just during the last three years from my commissioning to my ordination but for the last seven years as I went through seminary and the entire process that is required for ordained ministry. This process is arduous for a reason: to make sure that people who make it through to the end are indeed supposed to be where they are. I’m glad that where I’m supposed to be is with Shepherd of the Hills!
In His Love,
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