Yesterday, Sunday afternoon, we had an ordination service at our church. I don’t remember ever having attended one before and I have been in and around churches of all shapes and sizes for a long time.
Cody Creel, who had been a pastoral assistant at our church for a couple of years, was getting ordained. He and his new wife had accepted the position of pastor at a church in Missouri and members from that church came down for the occasion.
Joice and I knew Cody quite well because, for about a year, he was in the small group that met at our house each week. He was attending seminary and had to drop out of the group later when his studies became more demanding.
Our pastor, Eric Howell, was in charge of the service and he put together a program that included all of our normal church service—except for an offering—and Cody preached instead of the pastor.
The program for the service has this quote from Barbara Brown Taylor: “If my experience can be trusted, then God does not call us once but many times. There are calls to faith and calls to ordination, but in between there are calls to particular communities and calls to particular tasks within them… but we are not meant to hear them all by ourselves. It was part of God’s genius to incorporate us as one body, so that our ears have other ears, other eyes, minds, hearts, and voices to help us interpret what we have heard.”
We began with the normal “chiming of the hour” and a welcome and call to worship, which was by Lindi Creel, Cody’s wife. After a hymn and a prayer of gratitude by a member of Cody’s family, two men (one from each congregation) read Scripture from Psalm 139:1-12 and John 1:1-5, 14-18.
Cody then gave his testimony on how he felt led to study for the ministry, be ordained and accept the pastorate with the church in Missouri. He had been brought up in a Baptist setting: church, family, Scripture memorization and baptism. His family, while not perfect, prepared him to follow Christ at an early age.
After some false starts in college and some working experience, he entered Seminary and graduated this past year. After marriage, he had not expected to be invited as a pastor to a church so quickly, at our pastor’s initiation, the ordination was rather sudden. However, together Cody and Lindi are certain of God’s leading and direction and they had already moved their things to Missouri.
The testimony was short, open and honest—what we had come to expect of Cody. A few weeks earlier we had been a part of his ordination committee, so we were honored to now take part in the ordination service.
Pastor Eric gave a charge to Cody after his testimonial—outlining some of the things that a pastor contends with—that he and Cody had previously discussed in some detail.
There followed a “litany of affirmation,” led by the pastor, in which Cody and Lindi repeated his affirmation to follow God in this work and the congregation declared their willingness to stand behind him in faithful prayer.
The next part of the service was the most poignant and moving part: the invitation to bless Cody by the “laying on of hands.” Cody knelt on a padded prayer bench, with his head and hands on the small bench-table. Each of us in the assembly, who wished to, went, one by one or ins some cases by twos, and hugged Cody or laid hands on his shoulder while blessing him. There were probably 75 or present, so it took a while. Joice and I commandeered each shoulder. She told him how much we loved him and that we would promise to pray for him and Lindi; I recited from memory James 1:1-2: “When trials and temptations come into your life, don’t resent them as an intruder, but welcome them as friends. Realize they have come to test your faith and to produce in you the quality of endurance….”
The pastor concluded with a prayer of dedication and the new Reverend Cody Creel blessed the congregation.
The ordination service was over and it had been a consecration for everyone.
October 15, 2017
Day Spring Church, Waco