'What is God's stake in your ministry,' bishop asks ordinands
BY LESLEY A. CARTER AND LINDA WORTHINGTON
Beginning with a procession to the timeless sounds of "The Church's One Foundation" and a swinging rendition of "We've Come This Far by Faith," the Baltimore-Washington Conference ordained nine Elders and two Deacons in Full Connection, and commissioned 14 candidates as provisional member (one to associate membership) on May 31.
Among the 25 new pastors, about one-fifth are African-American. One new Elder is of Chinese parentage.
The 2012 class of provisional membership is twice as large as last year's.
It's a family tradition for some of the candidates. Kirkland Reynolds joins his wife, the Rev. Jennifer Cannon, who was ordained last year. Tiffany Kromer's husband, Tim Kromer, is a Local Pastor. Jalene Chase-Sands follows the tradition of her husband's family, in which father (Douglas Sands) and mother (Barbara Sands) are both ordained.
The candidates and ordinands were presented to cheers, whistles and applause from the audience. "This is a lively group tonight," exclaimed Bishop John Schol.
Bishop Gregory V. Palmer of the Illinois Great Rivers Annual Conference preached a rousing sermon punctuated by shouts and encouragement from those gathered.
He began by posing this question to those being ordained and commissioned: "What is God's stake in what will happen here tonight with you? Is this about God? Or is this our stuff? Because if this isn't really about God, we have deep, deep problems."
Preaching from Ephesians 4, Palmer reminded the audience that God's gifts do not begin with us – rather, they begin in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, the one who gives those gifts for a specific purpose.
"It's not about you," he reiterated. "Everyone – your family, your churches – loves you, but tonight is not about you, because the gifts are coming from someone and somewhere else. If ever you forget, your soul and, by extension, the soul of the church is in grave danger."
Ministry, however, is not the sole task of those who were ordained and commissioned. Speaking to the candidates and ordinands, Palmer declared, "Everyone here is authorized to be a full-time Christian and to follow and serve Christ. Your task is not to do all the ministry, and the rest of you are not to let us do all the ministry."
To the audience, he said, "I cannot be paid enough to be a Christian for you. I hope my ministry enables people to follow Jesus, but I am not a substitute to do your ministry for you."
The purpose of the gifts given by Jesus, said Palmer, is to build up and equip the saints for ministry. "If you put everything you do to this test, you'll never go wrong. In fact, God will use you beyond your wildest imagination."
The ordinands who knelt to be consecrated are now part of an historic tradition. The bishops who blessed them can trace their lineage back to Francis Asbury, who was ordained in this city in 1784. Then, as now, as each person received their blessing, the people said, "Amen."
Sheridan Barclift Allmond
Andrew Scott Greenwood
Elizabeth H. Jackson
James Kevin Johnson
Tiffany Renee Kromer
Bonnie J. McCubbin
Sandra Lee Phillips
Twanda E. Prioleau
Keith B. Schukraft (Assoc. Memb.)
Wendy Ruth van Vliet
Dana L. Werts
Heath E. Wilson
George L. Winkfield
Katherine Elizabeth Leffler Brown
David S. Showalter
Walter Lee Beaudwin
Jalene Cynthia Chase-Sands
Curtis Christian Ehrgott
Ek Ching Hii
Janice Elizabeth Leith
Frankie Allen Revell
Marlon Brooks Tilghman
Judy Smith Young