Methodist Conference Day 4: Ordination

It was a day of nostalgia for me yesterday as many of the events took me back to my own ordination day in 2007. The morning worship was phenomenal – it really shows Methodist worship at its best. It had some traditional hymns, some contemporary ones, and songs from the world church. Alison Tomlin gave a good address and seemed much less nervous. She took Isaiah 30 and spoke of the build-up of the list of Israel’s sins only not to punish, but to forgive.

Formal business began when General Secretary Martyn Atkins read the name of each candidate to be received into full connexion, part of the two step ordination into ministry. Ordination brings one into the Christian ministry and reception into full connexion locates that in the Methodist Church. As they stood up there, Atkins called for a standing vote and we stood, formally bringing them into full connexion. It was a business item, but I can remember seeing all those people standing up to bring me into full connexion and being overwhelmed by the sight. It let me know, ‘These people want me to be a minister.’

Then Paul, Peter, (not the apostles, but fellow North Lancs folk) and I went to Winchester for one of the ordination services. Winchester is a beautiful city. I was last there nearly 5 years ago for holiday and it was still beautiful. The magnificent cathedral was a great place for the ordination and it rang loud when we sang hymns, but more so when we affirmed to the ordinands, ‘They are worthy!’ This service was history making, I am told. It’s the first time deacons and presbyters were ordained in the same place. Coming from the UMC which has done it for years, the significance of this was lost on me. The emphasis placed on this historical moment I couldn’t help but feel that we had discovered an alternative source of energy.

One effect of this co-ordination was that the service was long. I mean long. 2 1/2 hours! And it started at 5:30 PM! The people in front of us had a long journey back to North Yorkshire that night. A fair number of people began to leave before communion. The past president (since the President cannot be at all services, past presidents assist) at our service caused a stir during the communion service when he said, ‘This is God’s magic and mystery.’ The whole congregation seemed to move while people looked at one another and one person behind us said, ‘Did he really say “God’s magic”?’

Vice President Eunice Attwood gave the sermon at the ordination, and it was again a crackin’ good one. She wove together the three texts around the them of ‘They are worthy’. 1) Isaiah 6:1-8, They are worthy, but not perfect. 2) 1 Corinthians 12:27-13:13, They are worthy, but not the same. 3) John 13:1-17, They are worthy, but not superior. The VP is going to have a good year, and I can’t wait to hear more from her.

Congratulations and God blessings to all those ordained yesterday! I hope you enjoyed the events!


4 thoughts on “Methodist Conference Day 4: Ordination

  1. Ah, I was wondering about Winchester as I’d read about people who were going there to support Deacon ordinands and Presbyter ordinands.

    What I personally regretted from my own ordination – and I’m told that the Deacons didn’t agree – was that Presbyters and Deacons were separate on our retreats.

    I’m glad that both were ordained together. 2 1/2 hours isn’t very long in some cultures anyway! 🙂 A confirmation service at my placement church ran close to 4 hours.

  2. Sorry for taking so long to reply, Pam!

    I asked a deacon (not one ordained at the service) what she thought and she liked the idea of the joint service. We didn’t talk retreats, though. The Diaconal Order simply seems to have this figured out better than the presbyters do. They are already so close that I could see adding the presbyters in a retreat would likely jar them. I have to say the more I learn about the deacons, the more I like them.

    As far as the length, I think it has more to do with time of day and expectations. They should have had the service earlier in the day and been upfront with those coming from long distances. They could have tightened up some other areas, but that would be nitpicking. I enjoy the more liturgical services, though! 🙂

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