Some of you may ask: aren't you already ordained? The official answer is "no," my answer is "sort of." Up to this point I have been commissioned. In my own words, that means I have been in the process of getting ordained...on Saturday that process will come to completion.
The bishop will ask us the historic Wesleyan questions on Wednesday. These are questions that have been asked of United Methodist pastors entering ordination for a long time. For your curiosity, here are the questions we will be asked:
1. Have you faith in Christ?
2. Are you going on to perfection?
3. Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?
4. Are you earnestly striving after it?
5. Are you resolved to devote yourself wholly to God and his work?
6. Do you know the General Rules of our Church?
7. Will you keep them?
8. Have you studied the doctrines of The United Methodist Church?
9. After full examination, do you believe that our doctrines are in harmony with the Holy Scriptures?
10. Will you preach and maintain them?
11. Have you studied our form of Church discipline and polity?
12. Do you approve our Church government and polity?
13. Will you support and maintain them?
14. Will you diligently instruct the children in every place?
15. Will you visit from house to house?
16. Will you recommend fasting or abstinence, both by precept and example?
17. Are you determined to employ all your time in the work of God?
18. Are you in debt so as to embarrass you in your work?
19. Will you observe the following directions? a) Be diligent. Never be unemployed. Never be triflingly employed. Never trifle away time; neither spend any more time at any one place than is strictly necessary. b) Be punctual. Do everything exactly at the time. And do not mend our rules, but keep them; not for wrath, but for conscience’ sake.
Then on Saturday there will be a worship service where the bishop will lay hands on each of us individually and speak words of encouragement and calling and authority. For those of you curious, it will look something like this:
Externally nothing changes. I will still be pastoring the same church. I will still be Pastor Rich or Reverend Tuttle. I will have the same salary. I will be under the same accountability that I have been under. I don't think people will treat me differently. So what will be different?
I mentioned one time to another pastor that nothing will change when I am ordained. The pastor said "yes it does." I said "what?" And the pastor said "there's an anointing that comes." I said "I will accept that."
I'm not saying that a person has to be ordained to be anointed, that's something God does. However, I do believe that God can use ordination to bring a new anointing and I definitely want that!
One thing's for sure: it has been a long and at times frustrating process. It has taken a total of six years to get to this point and that's after acquiring an M.Div. degree. It took failing (I don't care that they call it a "deferral" because at the time it felt like "failing") two committees of the Board of Ordained Ministry and feeling manipulated during one of the interviews. It took hours and hours and pages and pages of answering theological questions and discussing my calling and experiences I have had in ministry. Of course through the process I have grown and gained valuable experience. I can see the benefits of having the process the Methodist Church has on the way too ordination. I didn't always like it but I can see the value in it.
It will be nice to finally experience the "fruit of my labor" on Saturday!