Forgive me for not posting this sooner [Link to photos below]. I have had a few days of re-creation, Megan, Courtney, Liam and I took 4 days of rest and relaxation with her parents in Waterfall just outside Durban in South Africa. It was wonderful! However, it is about time I posted a few thoughts and some photographs from the Ordination service in Stellenbosch last week Sunday.
Within the Methodist Church of Southern Africa the annual Ordination service has become the crowning celebration of the Connexional executive meetings (in the period of the triennial conference), or Conference. This service celebrates that women and men still choose to respond to God's call to ministry - even when they are gifted, capable, and able to do many other things. The service took place in the picturesque town of Stellenbosch, just outside of Cape Town, this year. Our Presiding Bishop, the Rev Ivan Abrahams, presided over the service (shared with the Presiding Bishop of Ghana). In total 29 persons were ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament (called Presbyters in South Africa, Elders elsewhere in the world), and a 4 persons to the ministry of word and service (Deacons, from the Greek word diakonos which means to serve).
The liturgy for the Ordination service contains all of the necessary elements of Christian worship, praise and adoration of God, thanksgiving for God's good gifts, confession of our sin, and a charge to serve God more faithfully and obediently. Apart from the Ordination and communion there are also very pointed reminders that ministry is not reserved for those who are Ordained. In fact it is the 'Lay President' of the Methodist Church of Southern Africa who asks some of most pertinent questions of those to be Ordained, and the Presiding Bishop who charges the congregation of laity and clergy to respond obediently in discipleship to our Lord - all participating together in realizing God's mission in the world.
I have been to more than 10 Ordination services since my own - I have had the privilege of serving as a Presbyter at most of these (a Presbyter is an Ordained minister nominated by an Ordinand to lay hands on his or her head, together with the other Ordained ministers and Bishops when the Ordination prayer is said. Theologically it symbolizes the apostolic succession from one generation of ministers to the next). A special moment in the Ordination service is when all of the Ordained persons who are present (from all Churches and orders of ministry) are asked to stand and renew their promise to faithful service.
I had the incredible joy of serving as a Presbyter for two of my past students, both good friends, at this Ordination service - the Rev Juan Smith (with whom I am pictured above) and the Rev Dorah Ngcakani. Juan and I are good friends. We go a long way back - he was a Phase 1 minister in Cape Town when I was a young minister there. He and I are very alike (just take a look at our hairstyles!) in personality, passion, and love for Christ. This young man is a great gift to Christ's Church! I am thankful that a person who is a graduate, bright, committed, energetic, and capable, has chosen to give his life in service of Christ. It is what the Lord deserves, and it will bring great blessing and fulfillment in his life. Dorah, is a mother to me. She is an extremely accomplished woman. She holds a string of degrees and qualifications, having served as a school principal, Educational inspector, and senior member of the South Africa department of Education. She helped me with advice, guidance, and a patient ear when I was a very 'green' Dean at the Seminary. She is far more capable to do my work than I am, yet she was humble, restrained, wise and gracious as I tried to find my feet. Thank you Juan and Dorah for the blessing of sharing in this incredible day with you!
I do want to encourage others who are hearing God whisper the call to the Ordained ministry (either as a Presbyter, or Deacon) to test that call! There can be no greater way to spend your life than doing the thing that God wants you to do! If you are the best, you're the person that God wants! I am currently working on a little book, that I hope to publish in the next few months. It is intended to help persons discern their call to ministry (whether it be ministry in the pulpit, home, and Church, or ministry in the marketplace, workplace, or wider world). In the meantime however, please read this document if you want to know what steps to take to test your call.
Lastly, I have compiled a little page with photographs of the Ordination (taken with my snap and shoot camera). Please follow the link for photographs of the MCSA Ordination service in 2007.