By Melissa Lauber
Photos by Alison Burdett & Tony Richards
*Photos from June 3 will be added within a week to Flickr
Patrick, Narae, David, Michael, Robert, Malaina, and Samuel. God called these people by name as they were ordained as Elders in The United Methodist Church in a service on June 3. LaTrelle laid her hands upon their heads. Lemuel carried in the cross. Anna and Mary lit the altar candles. Peter preached a sacred word.
Names are important, said Bishop Peter Weaver about the words written by Paul to people with names in Thessaloniki. God created these people, created each person, with a name, Weaver said. God created you with a name, unique and holy. “Your lives are echoing the master’s word,” Weaver said. “You are the message.”
One of the people whose shoulders Weaver said he now stands on is his father – Adolph, who was ordained into the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1936. Weaver projected his father’s ordination certificate. It said, “This person is authorized to administer the sacrament and ordinances and to feed the flock of Christ so long as his spirit and practice are such that they become the Gospel.”
Weaver asked everyone present to “allow the Holy Spirit to move through their lives into other people’s lives.” To those being commissioned and ordained, he added, “this is an ordination for incarnation” – a moment to become the flesh and blood Gospel.
“Name your name,” Weaver concluded. “Your life is the message. Become and keep becoming the Gospel.”
Those commissioned include:
As Deacons: Jaleesa K. Hall and Cassandra Lawrence; as Elders: Laurel McNeal, Sharon Georgia Milton, Lesley C. Newman-Adams, Jennifer Tabor Osterfeld, Yo Rhie, Gwendolyn Faye Rodriguez.
Those ordained as Elders include:
Patrick Hurder Buhrman, Narae Kim, David Norton, Michael Anthony Parker, II, Robert Charles Ruggieri, II, Melaina N. Trice, Sam Tryon.
Daphne Hurd was commissioned as a Deaconess.
Earlier in the day, the young people of the conference took center stage when they gathered with the members of the conference to “dance before the Lord “and lift up the possibilities that young people bring to the church.
Nine confirmands from churches around the Baltimore-Washington Conference gathered around a central altar as Bishop LaTrelle Easterling blessed the youth for their decision to become disciples of Jesus Christ. “We stand here today in awe of your journey and the dream that you bring today,” she said.
“Each one of you is a child of God,” the bishop said. “This is the God that named you, that created you in your uniqueness and beauty, in your strength and everything about you that is unique. You are chosen; you are called. You are free to do more than we have been able to, to lead the church into places we have not gone and take the word of God further than we have taken it, God is bringing more love into the world through you. You are who God says you are.”
With cowbells, conference members made a joyful noise to celebrate the confirmands.
After she blessed the confirmands, the young people of the conference gathered around the bishop and, in an emotional prayer, asked that God would pour God’s love out on her as she pours out love upon the conference.
In small homilies, the young people lifted up the values that undergird effective youth and campus ministries: courageous love, bold innovation, faithful openness, and respectful urgency.
“We celebrate the freedom we see moving through our young people, Easterling said. “The only way the body of Christ moves forward into the future is through its young people. They are not the church of the future; they are the church of now.” She encouraged churches to open their doors wider so that all people can belong.
The Rev. Jacob Cogman, the campus minister at Howard University, shared how the line from the opening song of the television show “All in Family,” which says, “Those were the days,” too often reflects the unofficial tagline of many churches today. They long for a time when by simply existing, people would cross the threshold, he said. “But as my mother used to tell me and my brother, the past should be a place of reference and not a place of residence.”
He encouraged church members to embrace the sentiment of another television show – “A Different World.” “I don’t have all the answers about how to serve the present age,” Cogman said. However, he encouraged members to stop trying to recreate the past and be open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in and through all people – from the youngest to the oldest.
During the session, members learned about young adult ministries, the BWC’s four campus ministries, IDEA internships, Retreat and Camping Ministries, Project Transformation, vital ministries at Hughes UMC in Wheaton and Reisterstown UMC and listened to a panel of young people who answered questions in reverse mentoring.
With words of gratitude, Bishop Easterling then adjourned the 239th session of the Baltimore-Washington Conference with a blessing.