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Blessed, Charged, and Sent
This past Sunday my friend, Michael Liga, was ordained to the gospel ministry by the people of Ecclesia Community Church.
Ecclesia gathers on the corner of 25th Street and Mitchell Avenue in Waco, Texas. They are a small, diverse fellowship, hospitable and warm. Michael is a May graduate of Truett Seminary, a former graduate assistant in the Spiritual Formation office, and has served as interim pastor of Ecclesia. He invited our family to be present at his ordination on Sunday morning, and we were glad to have witnessed this event.
Pastor Emmanuel Roldan preached from Mark 5:1-20, a strange but fitting text for this ordination service. Why strange? Because this passage tells of an exorcism. Why fitting? Because Jesus tells the man whom he healed, “Go home to your own people and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.”
In the Baptist tradition ordination is undertaken by the local congregation. The people of the church may set apart those in their midst for the role of pastor. There is no other ecclesial body, association, board, or even ordained minister who must authorize this course of action. If a congregation has a person in their midst who expresses the conviction that they have been called by God to preach the good news of and about Jesus and to oversee and shepherd the people of God, the congregation may then confer that authority on that individual by any process mutually agreed upon by the body as a whole.
Baptist ministers are not required to attend seminary in order to be ordained. The Baptist tradition, on the whole, does not require formal training of any kind for its pastors. Local bodies are left to discern and decide. It is customary for churches to appoint a committee to oversee the ordination process, and it is often the case that in larger churches the pastoral staff may offer preparation and evaluative oversight of a candidate for ordination.
A deacon or elder body may also be appointed to examine the candidate for ordination prior to their being set apart for ministry during a service of worship. After completing the process appointed by the local body, and following examination and recommendation by an evaluative authority, the church then comes together to celebrate, bless, challenge, and commission the candidate for ordination.
My friend Michael is here, pictured above. Another congregant has come forard to join Michael, who is kneeling at the foot of the cross. All present were invited to participate in “the laying on of hands,” gathering around and praying for Michael, that God would bless him in the fulfilling of his calling.
In Acts 13, Paul and Barnabas are set apart by the Holy Spirit while with the church at Antioch for an appointed task. After fasting and prayer, the church lays hands upon these men and sends them out to do their appointed work.
Ecclesia did the same for Michael. While he has served as their pastor, Michael will soon return to his hometown of Houston, where he will continue his ministry and service.
Like many Baptist churches, Ecclesia concludes their service with an invitation to come and speak to a minister if any person present would like to make a commitment to follow Christ, or is seeking the counsel and support of a pastor. Their assistant pastor joked that usually people are invited to come down front and speak with Michael or himself, but that since there were about twenty additional ministers present that day for Michael’s ordination, that if each person looked to their right or their left, odds were that someone would be on their row who could minister to them.
It was a special Sunday, a joy to witness. I was encouraged by Ecclesia, their warmth and witness, and by the fact that they carried forward the church’s long tradition of setting apart leaders, affirming the called, encouraging Christ’s servants, and sending God’s workers into the field. Ordinary people, doing God’s extraordinary work.
I’m also reading a new book by Todd Wilson called The Enneagram Goes to Church.
Sights and Sounds
Molly and I are watching the seventh season of Bosch.
I like the Disney+ series Loki—so far. I’m through episode three.
Before I go, standard copy.
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Be well this week. Bless others.
P. S. - Walk on.