Seven ordained and one commissioned and AC2022
Becoming an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church requires several years of discernment with the assistance of their local United Methodist congregation, District, and Conference Board of Ordained Ministry; it requires a master's degree and a period of supervised service in their ministry with a mentor to encourage them.
On Oct 8, at the 2022, Upper New York Annual Conference’s Service of Commissioning and Ordination, in his sermon entitled “Instructions for the Journey,” Upper New York Area Resident Bishop, Mark J. Webb, eloquently described the lives of the seven individuals who were becoming ordained for the work of an Elder and the one becoming commissioned for the work of an Elder.
He said, “You come here today having already experienced a long journey. Preschool for many of you, kindergarten, elementary school, junior high, senior high, college, and seminary. You have made it through interviews and the sharing of your call with your SPRC, your District Committee on Ministry, and the Board of Ordained Ministry. And that’s the organized Cliff Note version that does not account for all the twists and turns and detours that life in the flesh and life in faith throw at you.”
And Bishop Webb emphasized that while the road in the rearview mirror was long and strenuous, “there is only one journey that matters—the journey you choose to take starting right now, tomorrow, the next day, and for every day that you have breath.”
Bishop Webb said to never stop asking the question, “Where am I going?”
Referencing Matthew 10: 1-8, Bishop Webb explained that Jesus called out his 12 disciples and gave them instructions and authority to “heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy,a]">[a drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.) (Matthew 10:8),
Bishop Webb gave the authority to each ordinand and commissioner by name, “Se Gye (Shin), I give you authority! Natalie (Bowerman), I give you authority! Bryant (Clark), I give you authority! Christiane (Depestre), I give you authority! Linda (Haight), I give you authority! Melissa (Killenberger McCarthy), I give you authority! Hector (Rivera), I give you authority! Lisa (Taylor), I give you authority!”
Bishop Webb explained to the ordinands and commissioner that for them to have fruitful ministries and for them to fulfil the mission of the United Methodist Church (to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world), they had to fully surrender to God.
He said it this way, “The first thing each of us must do on this journey of faith and ministry is to submit to the authority of God – trust the authority and authenticity of God to change us.”
Bishop Webb used the example of John Wesley as a faithful servant as expressed in the Covenant Prayer and Paul as a faithful servant as expressed in his letter to the Galatians.
Bishop Webb explained what the Church needs from the ordinands and commissioner:
“As you lead the people of God in fulfilling God’s mission, the Church does not need you to be CEOs, community organizers, brilliant strategists shaped by degrees, certificates, robes, or positional power. We need you to be spiritual leaders shaped first by being radical followers of Jesus Christ who empty themselves so that God can fill you with the things of the Spirit and the way of Jesus. The Church needs renewal and revival, the world needs Jesus and as you freely receive, empty yourself and be filled – God will use you to freely give and fill those around you with the hope, renewal, and life found in Jesus!”
The crowd of over 100 family members and friends of the ordinands and commissioners, erupted in applause as a response to this statement.
Bishop Webb discussed how beyond the call to lead within the life of the Church, there are many more calls that God has for them. Bishop Webb outlined 21 of them:
“You have been
-Called to salvation (Rom. 8:30)
-Called "with a holy calling" (2 Timothy 1:9)
-Called with a heavenly calling (Heb. 3:1)
-Called out of darkness into His marvelous light (1Pet. 2:9)
-Called to walk worthy (Ep 4:1).
-Called by grace (Gal 1:6)
-Called through the "gospel" (2Th 2:14)
-Called "into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. 1:9)
-Called from labor to rest (Matt. 11:28)
-Called from death to life (1 John 3:14)
-Called from bondage to liberty (Gal 5:13)
-Called from darkness into light (1 Pet. 2:9)
-Called from bondage to peace (1 Cor. 7:15)
-Called to the fellowship of His Son (1 Cor. 1:9)
-Called to be made the children of God (Gal. 3:26)
-Called to be made the servants of God (Matt. 25:21)
-Called to be made saints of God (Col. 1:1)
-Called to be made God’s witnesses (I Thess. 2:10)
-Called to be made workers together with God (2 Cor. 6:1)
-Called to a high calling, holy living, and a heavenly calling
-Called to be empty, so that God may be made full in you.”
Overll the service was energizing and filled with the Holy Spirit as Bishop Webb, friends, family, and mentors laid hands on the empowered new ordinands and commissioners.