Becoming Reverend Deena: Five Questions on Ordination

You’re invited! Deena’s Ordination Ceremony is Sunday, April 19 at 3 p.m. in the Sanctuary.

1. Why did you want to be ordained?

I didn’t. Many of the retired pastors here at the church kept encouraging me, ‘Have you thought about ordination?’ I had been licensed by the church; and so licensing gave me authority to do weddings, funerals, memorial services, visitations in hospitals, that kind of thing. Ordination, I felt, was not something I wanted to pursue because I didn’t have a master’s in divinity; but they kept encouraging me saying, ‘You would be a great pastor! Ordination is just a process of solidifying your faith, validating your call into the ministry, and defining your personal statement.’

2. At the beginning, why didn’t you want to be ordained?

I didn’t feel like I was qualified. I didn’t have a master’s in divinity. I just never felt like I was worthy. And quite frankly I was licensed to do everything, so why ordination? The purpose of ordination was to really go through the process. Once they convinced me of that, I got it! Walking through it now, I really get it. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do the work, it was that I didn’t think I was worthy, and I didn’t have the education.

3. How did it feel to go through this whole process?

It was grueling. It was a lot of hard work. If no one has ever written out their faith statement based on this set of criteria for American Baptist, they really should. I’m struggling with what some of these things are; so to be able to write down that I still struggle with this or I don’t know if this is true — the results or outcome of actually writing it solidified what my faith is, what my values are. I now know why I believe what I believe. Where before it was just like well, I believe it. But why? Well, I don’t know, it just feels right. Well, now I have Scripture to back me up and I have research that backs up those faith statements that I didn’t know before. So that was the most rewarding part of the process. While it was a lot of hard work, I have appreciated knowing where I stand with my faith and knowing what I struggle with as a Christian.

4. So was it worth it?

Absolutely. It absolutely was worth it. I think I would challenge anyone to put into writing what their faith is, to really struggle with it. It was a challenge to do, and no one needs to struggle with it the way I did in depth for ordination, but I think just knowing why they believe what they believe, and what their resources are, is just a wonderful thing. It was a wonderful connection with God — I spent a lot of time with God during that period of time. I got to know God on a much more personal basis than I had before. It was worth it.

5. How has the church or the church members supported you through this process?

There’s been an overwhelming amount of support, even when I was convinced that this isn’t what I should do or could do or what I was being called to do. There were many, many people who said you have absolutely been called to do this, we can see that in your work, in your demeanor, in your personality. There isn’t one person here who has not supported that process. There was an overwhelming amount of support to do it, even when I didn’t think I was qualified — they did. I am truly humbled by the amount of support I have been given to do this process. I am sincerely grateful for their faith in me.

The Road to Ordination….

Step one: Recognize your call for ministry and seek recommendation from your local church to pursue ordination.

Step two: Fill out an application for the Center of Ministry; which includes answering a few personality surveys and writing out your personal statement of faith.

Step three: If accepted, spend two days at the Center of Ministry interviewing with a psychologist who will determine whether or not you are ready for ministry.

Step four: If recommended for ministry, the psychologist will list out some issues that you will need to work on with a spiritual director or theological mentor.

Step five: Research, write and defend a detailed ordination paper covering your personal faith statement, reasons for seeking ordination, Baptist polity, Baptist ordinances, call to ministry, and professional and theological competence.

Step six: Your congregation meets, asks questions, affirms your call to ministry, and votes for affirmation.

Step seven: Celebrate with an ordination ceremony!

-printed in the April 2015 issue of the Tapestry.

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