Sunday, June 1, 2008

Many Hands Make An Elder

Last Friday was Mommy's ordination and it turned out to be a very special day. She started early with ordination rehearsal at 6:45am. Despite the early call, it turned out to be a lot of fun because a lot of Mommy's friends were also getting ordained and every one was cutting up. Also one of Mommy's ordination sponsors (Debbie) presented her with a chalice and paten with a beautiful wheat pattern. Then it was back to the hotel room to help get the boys' breakfast and pickup Miss Amy. She and Mommy spent the morning at Annual Conference sessions (and the Cokesbury store!). During one of the sessions, Aunt Marcia called Mommy's cellphone to wish her well at ordination and for Wesley's baptism the next day. After lunch, Miss Amy and all the guys came to see Mommy answer Wesley's historical questions for pastors. All those being ordained either deacon or elder had to go up on stage and answer the bishop as he asked these questions. All of them were to be answered in the affirmative except the question on debt: "Are you in debt so as to embarass yourself?" After that everyone went back to the hotel room to rest up before the evening's festivities. Here's Miss Amy hanging out with Wesley (she had a special touch with the little guy and could put him to sleep in nothing flat!)

Mommy had to be in the robing room at the arena ready to line up for the processional at 6:30pm. She wore the beautiful black robe that the Seffner church gave to her upon her graduation from seminary; the same robe that Mommy wore to be licensed as a local pastor (2001) and to commissioned as a probationary elder (2003). The actual ordination service began at 7:00pm. It turned out to be a very beautiful and moving service and thankfully was not nearly as long as some of the services in the past (just 2 hours). During the service, there were twelve people licensed as local pastors, sixteen people commissioned as probationary elders and deacons, two people ordained as deacons, thirteen people ordained as elders and three people who had their orders as pastors recognized from other denominations. Here's a couple of pictures Daddy took off the jumbo screens of Mommy during the service.

When it was Mommy's turn to go up on stage, she knelt at the kneeler rail and had her preaching Bible with her. Her preaching Bible was turned to Isaiah 6:8 and marking the page were two different items of significance: a beautiful cross-stitched "FAITH" bookmark made by Mommy's friend Patty Allen-McCollum and a small piece of a stole Mommy received at a worship service during an event to explore her call to ministry back in 1996 in Dallas. Then she was surrounded by a large group of people who laid hands upon her as the bishop spoke the words of ordination. The group included five different bishops (Bishop Whittaker of Florida, Bishop Jung of Chicago, Bishop Knox retired from Florida, Bishop Rodriguez retired from Cuba and Bishop Fannin retired from Birmingham) as well as Rev. Charles Weaver (the Bishop's assistant), Rev. David Dodge (Board of Ministry registrar), Rev. Annette Pendegrass (Board of Ministry chair), Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson (Chair of Order of Elders), Rev. Wayne Curry (Mommy's District Superintendent) and Mommy's two sponsors.

Each person being ordained is allowed to select two elders to stand with them in support. Mommy chose the Rev. Debbie McLeod and the Rev. R. Phillips Short. Debbie was the first woman pastor that Mommy met (while on a Girl Scout retreat weekend at Leesburg). She was gracious and kind and not only shared the Gospel but modeled it. Later she helped Mommy with her college thesis on women in ministry while at USF. Now a district superintendent, Debbie has continued to keep up with Mommy and been very supportive over the years of her ministry and her attempts with the Board. Phillip was Mommy and Daddy's pastor at Seffner from 1992-1997 and was extremely influential in both of their faith journeys, providing a foundation for both of them to help discern their calls to ministry. Even after leaving Seffner, Phillip continues to be a friend and always made himself available to share in the milestone moments of the family, including Mommy and Daddy's wedding and Parker and Wesley's baptisms. It was very special for Mommy to be able to share her ordination with them.

After ordination it was a special time for celebration and pictures with all those who had come out for the evening.

Many thanks to Daniel and Dawn and the kids for attending. They blew out a tire within about 5 minutes of getting to the arena, drove back home, switched cars, came back and managed to make it while Mommy was still up on stage!

And after all the family went home, Mommy went to a party hosted by her covenant group which included several clergywomen from throughout the conference. Many thanks to these special friends who have pulled so hard for her in making it through the Board of Ministry. They also gave her a beautiful stoneware chalice and paten.

All in all, it was an exhausting, emotional day, but a tremendously wonderful experience and well worth all of the effort over the last seven years and four appearances before the Board of Ordained Ministry! Now it's Daddy's turn.

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