By Susan Sneed
Worship opened with powerful music provided by a praise band under the direction of Rochelle Collette, Wesley UMC (Springfield). The procession included carrying in of the symbols of the ordained orders: a Bible, a cross for both Elder and Deacon, the Shepherd’s crook for the Bishop and the pitcher and bowl for the ministry of Deacon.
Bishop Schnase introduced special guest Mrs. Ruth Handy, widow of Bishop W.T. Handy, his own wife, Mrs. Esther Schnase, and Rev. T. Cody Collier, the preacher for the evening.
Rev. Dr. Kris Tenny-Brittian of the Christian Church of Mid-America Disciples of Christ brought this year’s ecumenical greeting. These greetings are important to remind all that we are not just Methodist but Christian.
“I wondered what I would say tonight, and I remembered my own ordination and an image of when I was a church planter,” she said. “Ordination comes with rights and privileges, but it is a commitment to God, to move and introduce people to God. Tonight you are being ordained, and it is a really, really big deal. As you feel those hands on your head, feel their heaviness. They are bestowing a heavy burden on you. So get lots of hugs and pictures tonight. You are not being ordained merely into the Methodist church but into a wider Church, the Movement of God.”
Bishop Schnase led the congregation through the ritual pouring of water and remembering the baptism that unites all Christians. This is an important part of the ordination service, to recognize the common ministry of all believers, not just the ordained.
Before the candidates were introduced Brian Hammons, Conference Lay Leader, affirmed that as a representative of the laity the candidates had met the approval of the laity. Likewise, Rev. Bruce Baxter, chair of the Board of Ordained Ministry, Rev. Molly Moore, Chair of the Order of Deacon, and Rev. Jim Downing, chair of the Order of Elders also affirmed that all the candidates had been examined and were approved for ordination. Ordinands are:
Deacon: Jennifer Long
Elders: Christopher Abel, Andrew H. Blacksher, Joseph Frana, Mitchel W. Henson Jr., Jeffery J. Jaekley, Rocky Marlowe, Jennifer B. Moxley, and Leanna van Zandt
Orders to be recognized: Jason Leininger
The offering was collected for Haiti Water Plus, a ministry in partnership with Haitians to secure clean water. “With your support, we can not only continue to work for clean water,” said Rev. Lucas Endicott, mission specialist. “But we can also explore other ways in which we may partner in ministry in the years to come.”
Old Testament reading was offered by Rev. Jim Barnett, chair of the fellowship of Local Pastors, followed by Rev. Jim Downing reading the Psalm, and Rev. Molly Moore offering the Gospel reading. They were followed by the evening’s preacher, Rev. Dr. T. Cody Collier, Special Assistant to the Bishop for Leadership Development. He preached from the text of Romans 10: 8-15.
“I’m so grateful for these ordinands, for the Bishop and for this soulful music,” said Rev. Collier. “I invite you to travel with me as we look at what it takes to be in ministry today. We come tonight to say we’re with you. You jumped through some liturgical hoops...I mean ordination steps, but you made it.”
How beautiful are those who bring the good news says Paul to Romans, said Rev. Collier. He recounted with laughter his own ordination in Nashville. He was so excited but his Bishop seemed most concerned with dealing with Rev. Collier’s large Afro. He described it as twice the size of his body.
“My first appointment was a strong congregation...following a beloved pastor who had been there 18 years,” he said, earning a collective groan from the congregation. “I was ready to get started and get them going. With all my seminary learning, I knew just want they needed. I visited a homebound member, with her bad feet propped but she noted my own “feet” problems.”
She gave Rev. Collier some sage advice: Walk with us and let us have some fun with you and help us get to the feet of Jesus. The text for the evening is a reminder that people who are lost and don’t believe never will if someone isn’t sent to tell them. “Our feet get us going. So, I want to know are your feet beautiful…ordinands? Cabinet? Board of Ordained Ministry?”
The text for the sermon spoke about the radical notions of feet moving to bring the word to the world, to bring hope, to evangelize. Rev. Collier asked the congregation why can’t that word be used anymore? It is simply a sharing of the truth, the root of the word angel.
“I want to talk about what’s good and right, what your feet can do on this journey, with people who really need this news. Your feet need to be steady and grounded in the word.” Rev. Collier warned the ordinands not to make sermon preparation their primary time with God.
There is a real need for them to take dedicated time listening and praying to God. For themselves only. “Bishop Rueben Job led a ministry retreat once that required us to lay down our cell phones. It was hard. And hard to hear him, he was so soft when he spoke. Just lean in he said. Don’t let this work just be something for your Sunday, let it be for your throughout the week.”
He reminded the ordinands that so many are looking for someone to walk with them. He spoke of recently deceased local pastor, Rev. Gloria Jones. In her retirement, she went to Wright City and just started walking and praying throughout the streets. Jones never allowed herself to be connected to a building. She was a spiritual firecracker that brought hope to a troubled community.
“Throughout the racism, the poverty, people need you to be there for them,” Rev. Collier said. “Reach out where people are. That’s where you are needed. Do not let your feet be stymied by people who want your feet to be stuck in the past. The task of the Church is centered around the fact that we must stop what doesn’t work or make a difference, and start something new. Some things just don’t build the Kingdom.”
Rev. Collier related a story of General Conference describing that the attendees’ evaluations noted they were tired of the cookies. They were stale. A debate ensued in the Cookie Committee and the New Thing Committee trying to decide what was best for the church. “Thank goodness we didn’t need a 2/3 vote,” he laughed.
Hours back and forth and finally the decision was made to discontinued the cookies in favor of healthy snacks. Some people want to hang on to stale ministries; it’s all they know.
Congregations must let their pastor know they are not alone when it’s time to move beyond cookies and move to healthy snacks.
“It’s bringing the good news of Jesus Christ. Radical feet are always about Jesus,” said Rev. Collier. “John Wesley said the world is our parish, we must take our beautiful feet and bring the good news...there’s power in these feet, love in these feet. Be the feet...bring faith, bring hope...bring justice.”
Following the sermon, a video displaying The Wesleyan Apostolic Succession, a family tree of the clergy ordained in Missouri, starting with John Wesley through to Bishop Schnase. The ordinands were presented one by one to the Bishop, the chairs of the Orders of Elders and Deacons and other members of the cabinet for the laying of the hands and the conferring of authority.
Bishop Schnase closed the service by inviting those persons who were considering ordained ministry to come to the stage for prayer and to meet and pray with members of the Board of Ordained Ministry.