Maybe it’s an ironic coincidence, but my letter about the procedures for ordination at Annual conference is dated April 1st, 2008! I also found that my ordination will take place the same day as my wedding anniversary, so that’s really a convenient way of remembering when it happened. I’m terrible with dates, so that’s a great thing to me.
I’m excited about my ordination, but it seems like it’s been forever since I walked into my district superintendent’s office in Oklahoma City and told him I was trying to discern whether or not I had a call to pastoral ministry. It felt like a secret mission, because I went while on lunch break from the research lab where I was a student at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
Later, when I told the professor who ran my lab about my decision to leave the PhD program I was in to pursue a call to ministry, he gave me a couple weeks to rest and think about it. After I came back still determined, he was adamant that I talk to the chair of our department to share this news. After talking to her, she looked at me like I had just told her I wanted to swim with the dolphins and said, “Are you sure you don’t want to just be a social worker or something?”
Ninety-six hours of seminary education (currently at $444 per credit hour), four interviews with the Board of Ordained Ministry, and nearly three years of pastoring two congregations later, and I’ve received the letter telling I’ll be ordained at Annual Conference (pending the vote at the clergy session on Monday, of course). To be honest, I feel more relief than anything, even though I am looking forward to ordination. I haven’t worn a stole during my probationary period, so there will at least be a visible difference when I come back home to the congregations I serve the following week. Other than that, I wonder if I’ll feel different.
It’s been a long process (have I emphasized that enough yet?), but it’s been a process where I’ve met an incredible number of great people. It’s a dirty shame I only get to have two full members of the conference stand with me during my ordination. To really acknowledge everyone who had a part in my pursuit of the call to ministry, I’d need far more. Come to think of it, I’d need a bunch of spots for lay-people too!
I can’t think of a graceful way to end this, and that’s probably because it isn’t over yet. It probably never will be. So, I’ll just say this: to be continued…