“Will you, in the exercise of your ministry, lead the people of God to faith in Jesus Christ, to participate in the life and work of the community, and to seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people?”
I will, with the help of God.
On Sunday, June 2, I made this promise as I was commissioned as a deacon in the United Methodist Church. Deacons are called to ministries Word, service, justice and compassion. I am called to ministries of faith formation that engender justice seeking. Articulating God’s call on my life throughout this process has been challenging. I don’t know that I would have continued without the support of dear friends in colleagues who reminded me during especially rough times that I was both gifted and called. I am so grateful for the love and support of my family, the churches that I have served, those who read my papers, offered mock interviews, and in countless ways stood by me. Thanks especially to my two daughters who urged me forward, despite the fact that I missed too many important events so that I could complete the requirements or make mandatory meetings.
During the service, I stood with amazing friends and colleagues also being commissioned or ordained as deacons. I have experienced the gifts of the Spirit that each of these persons brings to the church. They are bold advocates, hearts filled with desire to serve as Christ in the world. I am honored to have stood with them. I look forward to the next two years of residency where we will continue to grow and support one another. As provisional members of the order of deacons, we covenant to “strengthen and build each other up in prayer study, worship and service.”
My colleague Elizabeth named the tension for those being commissioned into a church with an uncertain future as “the liminal space of the unknown.” While so many things are in flux, a new movement is emerging. A movement which seeks liberation for all people and truly celebrates the gifts the gifts and leadership of LGBTQ persons, persons of color, and others who have been marginalized by evil, injustice and oppression in the church. I look forward with anticipation to what new things the Holy Spirit will reveal.
Living into the vow to “seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people” takes courage, faith and humility. Living into this vow is only possible by God’s grace. And so, as we celebrate those who have answered God’s call to ministry, endured the hours labor to meet the requirements, and pledged their intentions before the bishop, please pray with me:
“I pray for boldness. Give me not only the strength to speak and the world to say but also the spirit of power so that I might deliver your message in a way that changes things, changes the world.
Help me be bold. Take the quiver from my voice and the tremors from my hands. Help me be bold. Pour into my heart a feeling of peace. Help me be bold. As I take a deep break to do what is right. Help me to be bold.”
The above is an excerpt from a prayer by Rev. Sarah A. Slack from We Pray With Her: Encouragement for those Who Lead.
Grace and peace,
Rev. Christine V. Hides