Acts of ordination and commissioning are anchored in the sacrament of baptism and the ministry of the baptized.
Commissioning may be compared to the experience of the early church in Antioch as the Holy Spirit instructed the community to “set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them” (Acts 13:2, NRSV). As provisional members are commissioned, we acknowledge and affirm God’s call and the individual’s response, gifts and training for leadership in the local church. We offer our support for their continuing formation as each one journeys toward ordination and full membership in the conference.
Ordination is understood as the act of the Holy Spirit and, as a liturgical rite, the culmination of a process in which representatives of the whole Church discern and validate the call, gifts and effectiveness for ministry. Ordination of deacons and elders is both to an office and for a lifetime. Ordination confers a new identity in the life of the church as well as authority for ministry. Upon ordination, deacons and elders become accountable to the whole church, to the community of the ordained, and to the order of deacons or elders of which they are a part.
The ministry of the deacon is to teach and to form disciples, to lead worship together with other ordained and lay persons, conduct marriages and bury the dead, and lead the congregation in interpreting the needs and hopes of the world. Deacons exemplify Christian discipleship and create opportunities for others to enter into discipleship. They assist laypersons as they claim their own ministry of compassion and justice. (¶328-9)
The ministry of the elder is expressed by leading the people of God in worship and prayer, by leading persons to faith in Jesus Christ, by exercising pastoral supervision in the congregation, and by leading the Church in obedience to mission in the world. (¶332)
Local pastors are appointed to a particular local church and are related to the community being served. They share with the elders the responsibilities and duties of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service. Local pastors are approved annually and are appointed and licensed by the Bishop to perform all the duties of a pastor. (¶316, 340)
At the 2017 Annual Conference the Service of Ordination, Commissioning and Election will be a combined service with candidates from both the West Michigan and the Detroit Annual Conferences.
Are you called to Ordained Ministry?
You’ve heard God’s call, but how do you know what it means? Discernment is best done by searching outside of yourself. This could be done through research, conversations with God, conversations with others, or any other way you’re able to weigh options.
You’re invited to a luncheon following the plenary at noon in the Peninsula Room. Join with other Michigan United Methodists who are asking the question: “Am I Called?” Meet representatives from United Methodist Seminaries, members of the West Michigan and Detroit Conference Boards of Ordained Ministry, District Committees on Ministry and various young adult ministries across the state.
The high moment of annual conference, the combined service of Ordination and Commissioning, will be held following the luncheon at 2:00 PM. This worship service features the commissioning of ministers and ordination of Elders and Deacons. Be inspired by beautiful music, the message delivered by Bishop David Bard, and the moment when men and women commit to lifelong service to God through the ministry of The United Methodist Church.
Here’s information on the options available through vocational ministry:
A United Methodist Chaplain is an ordained clergy person who ministers outside the walls of the church, caring for those with deep needs.
Deacons are ordained clergy who lead the church in relating Christians to their ministries in the world through worship, scriptural educational (preaching and teaching), nurturing spiritual vitality, service to the community, and ministries of justice and compassion.
Elders are ordained clergy who lead the church through worship, scriptural education (preaching and teaching), nurturing spiritual vitality, administration of the sacraments of baptism and Holy Communion, and ordering the life of the church for service in mission in ministry.
If God is calling you to become a clergy person, but you don’t see seminary as an option for you, then you may want to consider becoming a Licensed Local Pastor, whose authority is restricted to the local congregation they serve.
You may not feel called to vocational ministry but still feel inclined to leadership in the church. Work with your pastor or other church members to identify ways you can serve. Try out different ministries to discover what you enjoy doing and where your skills are. The Church has many options for lay (non-ordained) service.