I have almost finished the long journey toward ordination in the Evangelical Covenant Church. It will become official at our national gathering in Kansas City this June. But I was recognized this week along with other ordinands at our Northwest Conference Annual Meeting at Salem Covenant Church in New Brighton.
On Friday morning all of the ordination candidates shared their faith story and call to ministry. I was blessed to have my 3 squirmy kids, amazingly devoted wife, my big brother and others there to hear me. I hope to share a full transcript of my 6 minute testimony soon. But here’s a teaser:
I was born in 1979 and a few weeks later my parents brought me forward to the baptismal font at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Mound, Minnesota. If you would have been at the front of the church that day, facing northwest, and if you threw a rock as far as you could, you might have hit the backside of an old grocery store.
Thirty years later that grocery store would become the home of MainStreet Covenant Church — a new church planted by that baby being baptized that day. Yet, it would take God 30 years and some significant moments to move this boy that one city block!
Stay tuned for the rest.
I have downplayed this significant milestone because I had a very clear divine moment of calling many years ago and I began my “official” pastoral ministry after finishing seminary 10 years ago in 2005. My ego doesn’t like the notion that I have been lacking anything, I have been somehow incomplete in my preparation, or somehow second rate and not-yet-fully arrived as a fully credentialed pastor. But I admit this is my pride and insecurity talking. Beware of any pastoral leader who says, “My call came directly from God and so I don’t need any church to legitimize my ministry.” That’s pride talking…and I’ve been there.
In truth, the pathway to ordination in a particular denomination is a humbling process by which we do a very un-American thing: we bring our life, gifting, sense of calling, and present and future ministry efforts before a larger community of peers and ask for them to test and authenticate our calling, hold us accountable in our ministry vows, our theology and personal conduct. This is a long, arduous process and no one takes this lightly.
But it was great to stand up front with others and celebrate God’s hand on all of these leaders as the broader church prayed a blessing over us. I am grateful to all those colleagues on the Board of Ministry who have prayed over me, interviewed me, poured over my story, and examined my sense of call and gifting. I am honored to soon be officially ordained in the Evangelical Covenant Church.
I love my Covenant family. And I will need them for the (hopefully long) journey ahead.