Still Ordained?

Having had the discussion already and realized that pastoring is not likely to work out for me, I’ve been wondering – am I still ordained?

With all the Presbyterian polity discussions surrounding me today on the interwebs, I ended up remembering that, YES, I’m still a member-at-large in the Chicago Presbytery, which means I’m still ordained as a minister.

Symbols I'm Pondering: Laying on of Hands

See, several years ago, when I was ordained to the ministry of word and sacrament in the Presbyterian Church (USA), I had a vision during the Lord’s Prayer at my ordination. I felt the hands on my shoulders from the Elders and Deacons and Ministers who laid hands on me.

But I saw prophets, martyrs, pastors, teachers from biblical days to now. They welcomed me into the great cloud of witnesses. I felt a heavy mantle of responsibility slipped on my shoulders. I was changed by the experience. I was set apart to do God’s work in the world.

And now I’m not doing any of this work, and when I even think about what’s going on in the Church and the world, my head hurts and I have to turn away. I could argue with myself perhaps, that maybe God’s work is getting myself better and taking care of me, so that I can do more work when I am better and stable and ready to take the responsibility of ministry again, something I know will happen again.

So, I’m pondering today, am I still ordained when I can’t do anything right now? Does it go away when I am disabled for a time, or does ordination remain and still shape me?

11 responses to “Still Ordained?

  1. I think that all of our experiences shape us and that ministry, too, takes many shapes. Writing? Teaching? Spirtual direction? God knows…and it will be good.

    • This is what I keep telling myself. Just had a strong ache today that I didn’t even GET to vote on polity changes, not involved in anything right now. So, maybe means I’m not ordained right now.

  2. Sounds like you still have work to do! God has called you to ministry, which will be all the richer for your journey to wholeness. Your ordination isn’t to.a position… It is to a vocation

  3. Jesus rested. Shoot, on the 7th day, GOD rested.

    And Moses rested when leading the people got to be too much. Exodus 33.

    You’re still ordained. You’re just resting, getting ready for the next big thing.

    More concrete example – I was ordained as a Deacon and then left the church completely for over 15 years. I’m serving as a Deacon again, and on my way to follow the path you’ve taken. Was I re-ordained? No.

  4. I don’t think you are done with ministry just yet. And I know (polity issues aside) that you are still ordained. It is part of who you are.

    Remember that goofy adage? When God closes a door, God opens a window. Or some such thing. You’re between 2 doors right now. But I don’t see any speed limit that says how long you have to get from one door to another.

    That great cloud of witnesses is lifting you, supporting you on this journey. And when you reach that other door? You’ll know and you’ll be ready.

  5. Dare I say this? I think you’re seeing this from a too-Presbyterian point of view. Yes, you are ordained. You studied for it, you completed the requirements, you did the time. Your contribution (including our work for PC(USA)) was real.

    But in my brother’s church, which has an amazing mission in their community, including a ministry called Stepping Stones (see: Urbana, OH), they call ministers by discerning their call and their passion. No college degree. No Committee on Ministry. They don’t go through everything you did, but they are no less ministers and ordained in the word and sacrament.

    You are who you are. You are, as are we all, called to make disciples. No one can take that away – it’s divine. Love to you, friend.

    • Yes, and thank you for calling me on it. Just as other denominations do, Presbyterians ordain for the whole church. Mostly what brought this up for me is that my call seemed to be for particular work that would change from time to time. But since I’m not doing any of the work, does that mean I’m still ordained? One of the beauties of Presbyterians is that we ordain to set people apart to do God’s work as ministers, deacons and elders. It is tied to tasks and jobs. But sometimes we miss the sense of vocation that extends past particular jobs, and that’s the sense of ordination I think you are describing at your brother’s church as well. Presbys are not as good at that mystical vocational definition of ordination.

  6. I agree that being ordained means being set apart but I’d claim you’re still set apart because your living out this struggle publicly. I’m going with BBT on this one:

    “The ordained consent to be visible in a way that the baptized do not.

    They agree to let people look at them as they struggle with their own baptismal vows: to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to resist evil, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ, to seek and serve Christ in all persons, to strive for justice and peace. . . .Those are not the vows of the ordained, but the baptized.” ~ Barbara Brown Taylor, “The Preaching Life”

    You’re publicly living out your spiritual journey and I see your ministry growing as you navigate these unfamiliar waters. I’m certain that someday you’ll be able to tread the murky waters of mental illness and identity and vocation issues with enough familiarly to pastor others on this same journey – whether or not that pastoring takes the form of an online presence, spiritual direction, or something not yet imagined…

    • Thanks, Sarah! I hadn’t thought of that – public living out of vows, even in this confusing state. Wise woman, you are. I’m excited to see where I end up in a year or two – some other vocational path I haven’t imagined yet.

  7. PS: There’s more voting to do, too. We’ll pray that you’re able to be with the group to vote in April, if that feels important to you. In the meantime, your healing will lead to new occasions for ministry. I know this for sure.

    • Yes. To accept the call is considerate and not entered into lightly. But you are, dear friend, ordained, in every sense of the word.

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