In a week and a half we have a unique occasion for celebration – Pastor Mark will be ordained for pastoral ministry.
Mennonite theology values the priesthood of all believers. We all have access to the Divine and share in the call to embody the healing and reconciling ministry of Jesus. We also recognize certain offices of ministry, among them chaplains and pastors. The priesthood of all believers doesn’t necessarily mean the pastorhood of all believers!
Our denominational Polity Manual says: “Ordination is an act of the church that confirms those whom God and the church have called to particular roles of leadership ministry – both to build up the local body and to further engage the congregation in the mission of God.”
In our polity, credentialing for ministry is a two-step process. A pastor is first licensed, a temporary credential for a time of testing and discernment by the individual and the congregation. And then, if both choose, ordination, which affirms and solidifies this calling.
On Sunday, June 9, during the worship service, we as the church, led by CDC Conference Minister Doug Luginbill, will act and confirm Mark’s ministry.
It’s kind of routine and kind of a big deal. Routine because this is a common step for pastors to take who decide they want to stick with this for a while. The words of affirmation and blessing are those uttered in other congregations present and past.
It’s a big deal because pastorhood is no small task. It’s a big deal for a community to say they want you to help lead them, to borrow words from our Membership Commitment statement, “toward a more just, peaceful, and merciful embodiment of God’s love in this world.” That’s a big deal, and can feel kind of heavy sometimes.
It’s also a big deal because the church as a whole is still fearful and, at times, openly hostile towards queer folks, especially as leaders. I have a deep appreciation and admiration for Mark and others who accept this calling despite these realities.
I’m grateful Mark has heard the voice that is deeper and truer than those objections. I’m grateful CMC has been fertile ground for his flourishing. I’m grateful for how Mark has been a pastor to me through his caring and thoughtful spirit.
So let’s celebrate on June 9.
And remember, if you show up at the church building this Sunday you’ll be singing hymns solo. We’re meeting at Highbanks Metro Park for the annual outdoor service.