Thursday, June 15, 2006

Ordination Thoughts

We returned last night from Annual Conference, and it was memorable for many reasons. . .

I was ordained on Tuesday, June 13 as an Elder in Full Connection of the Mississippi Annual Conference. This was also my daughter Sarah's second birthday. It was a great day, and a great honor to be ordained on her second birthday.

I can honestly say that after my salvation, my wedding day, and the birth of my daughter, this was the greatest moment of my life. Lots of folks say, do you feel any different after ordination? I always joking say, no, I've been trying to get lightening to come out of my hands, but nothing has happened.

But, in reality, I feel differently. When the Bishops laid hands on you, I believe with all that I am, that something powerful happens. While I know that other traditions may disagree with this, I can trace my ordination back through Apostolic Succession all the back to the Early Church. That is amazing and something I don't fully understand.

Am I different today? I don't know, but I know that I have a new role, a new office, a new responsibility. In many ways, it’s like getting married or having a child, something inside you changes, and your perspective changes, your priorities change. I have always known that I was called, never doubted. But, to now know that I have been selected and approved by the Church is empowering. To know that hands were placed upon me like they have been placed upon many before is enthralling. To know that I am now and Elder in full connection, as much as any other elder in full connection gives me so much pride, joy, excitement, and motivation as anything I have ever experienced.

I was first approved by the Clergy Session and that was humbling to be before my sisters and brothers and have them say, yes, you are called and we send you out not only in God's name, but in the name of the Mississippi United Methodist Church is humbling and empowering at the same time.

In the ordination service, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward was the presiding Bishop, and she was assisted by Bishop Clay Lee (retired, Mississippi) and Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa of Zimbabwe. It was great to see dear friends go before me in ordination, Rev. Cynthia Cross, Rev. Greg Hazelrig, Rev. Cliff Burris, Rev. Harold Manning, and Rev. Toby Loftlin.

The bittersweet part of the service was a moment of silence for Rev. Jerry Salley. Jerry was supposed to be ordained with us this year, but passed into true life this past November. He was too close to each of us for his name not have been remembered at our ordination. We believe in the communion of the saints, and we know that he is alive in Christ, even now, but we each wished that he would have been there with us to share in that moment.

It then came my turn, and it was all a blur. I remember kneeling down, and feeling the Bishops place their hands upon my head, and I literally felt something, the Holy Spirit. The prayers flew by, and before I knew it, I was up. I hugged my wife Holly, and then surprisingly found my father, Connie Stoddard standing up with me as well. I say surprisingly because I was told I could have my spouse or my parents stand with me. I knew Holly would be up there, but my dad decided to come up any way! I also was privileged have Rev. Jim Beam-Ingram and Rev. Dr. Will Dowling standing with me, and my District Superintendent Rev. Andy Ray as well. They all stood behind me as I knelt and placed their hands upon me.

I can honestly say that ordination has changed the way that I view myself and my ministry. I had no idea that it would do so. I am thankful for my eight years in the process here in the Mississippi Conference. It was a long time coming, but the wait was worth it, for in that way, you proven and tested. I look forward to now going out, doing ministry as an ordained elder, and helped to build the kingdom of God.

3 comments:

  1. Congradulations Andy! I remember my ordination as one of the most powerful movements of the Spirit in my life as well.

    May God bless you in your ministry.

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  2. John,

    Thanks for those comments. I really do appeciate them. It was a powerful moment, and I know that it is something I will return to again and again in ministry.

    May God bless you as well.

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