Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ordination: A Level Playing Field

Rev. Dr. Eillen Campbell-Reed
 and Rev. Mary Beth Duke
On Sunday afternoon, I had the opportunity to be part of a service at Providence Baptist Church in Cookeville, Tennessee, ordaining Mary Beth Dunbar Duke to the Christian ministry. Mary Beth is a graduate of Central Seminary in Murfreesboro and is currently pursuing a Clinical Pastoral Education residency at Vanderbilt Hospital.

I reminded those present that although most Christian churches ordain ministers of the gospel, there are differing ordination practices and that they would not be surprised to learn that even among Baptists there are varying practices!

This was the first ordination service conducted by the church and the building was filled with church members, friends and family of the candidate, and former classmates at the Central Seminary site. It was day of celebration as well as commitment.

I am not a member of Providence Baptist Church, but we share an understanding of the meaning of ordination. There is only one ordination to the gospel ministry. There is not one for males and one for females; there is not one for blacks and another for whites, Hispanics, or Asians. There is not one ordination for pastors, another for ministers of Christian formation, and yet another for chaplains. The ordination bestowed by this congregation on Beth was for her to be a minister of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in any and every setting.

I celebrate not only the ordination of my friend, Mary Beth Duke, but the witness of Providence Baptist Church to a gospel that treats each of us equally. To mix metaphors, there is a level playing field at the foot of the Cross.

1 comment:

Beth said...

Thanks Ircel. This is great!