My hand wavered over the “Enter Title Here,” for this post. It’s been a long time since I’ve blogged. And then, I started to type the list of things that have been keeping me busy but that goes back to why I’m so busy: keeping lists.
So as Sherlock Holmes once said in the recent film starring Robert Downey, Jr., “Let’s crack on.”
Yesterday, I officially became a provisional elder. I am grateful that I have been affirmed and encouraged through much of the process by so many people. I have shared heart-felt thank you’s over the last 24 hours by phone, text, and email. Praise God.
This whole ordination thing is a mystery to people inside the United Methodist Church (UMC), even clergy striving to become elders to be ordained. So for those of you who are not UM’s, here goes on the commissioning questions and interviewing.
Just know this latest hurdle has been difficult with written work submitted and interviews with five panels composed of clergy and church members. I delayed the written work to take a year to complete it because it required much research, thought, and energy. Being a full-time local pastor in a busy church of 1800 members was a challenge completing the questions. Know the interview process ran from 9a-3p. The process is to affirm the call by God among individuals seeking ordination.
Though I’ve made it through this hurdle in the process, it saddened me that one person was delayed in 2013 and was there again with me–approved finally, and another was delayed having to complete written work and interview again in 2015. When I explained all this to my father, my biological father, he was stunned. He said, “Should I come for the ordination this spring?” I said, “Nope. Maybe 2016.”
Keeping my dad’s response in mind, I don’t think people understand that the process can be draining and for those “doing well” and debilitating for those who don’t “score” well. That scoring could include the moving target of being evaluated as effective clergy on a day-to-day basis in the local church or “failing” the psychological exams. Some of the evaluative tools could be considered subjective.
So my heart goes out to those I know, those who have been delayed and worse those I don’t know who have been diverted from ministry or departed on their own weary steam.
Having used words like debilitating and weary, I am concerned that young people, women, and people of color including African Americans, just to name a few, finishing seminary are not opting for pulpit ministry in the UMC and other denominations.
Right now being so fully immersed in the ordination process–if all goes well I will be ordained in 2016–I pose these concerns but don’t have many answers. Do you?
Starting to answer the commissioning questions? Bibliography and other information.