In the Christian tradition, the rite of ordination has ancient roots, stretching back to the Biblical stories of Moses, Aaron and Joshua. Through ordination, an individual is designated by the church as a teacher, a leader of worship and a pastor and spiritual guide. Structure an ordination service to let the community acknowledge the spiritual journey of the candidate and celebrate and give thanks for the gift of ministry.
Proclaiming God's Word
Begin the service with an opening hymn and a prayer, both of which should be centered on such themes as calling, service mission and the gifts of the Spirit. Follow with the Service of the Word (i.e., Holy Scripture). Read lessons from the Old Testament, the Epistles and one of the four Gospels. Choose among suitable topics for the sermon, including narratives of prophetic calling (such as the stories of Elijah, Isaiah or Jeremiah), Jesus' sending out of his disciples, or the statements made about his mission by the apostle Paul.
Presenting the Candidate
Then formally present the candidate. Include statements of commendation made by a representative of the parish or congregation, and one made by the regional or diocesan representative. Both can share their impressions of the candidate, including his contributions, commitment and gifts in ministry.
Proclamation of Vows
Next, follow with the covenant of ordination, which includes a litany of vows by the candidate to uphold and sustain the various functions to which she is being called, and the response of the people to support the candidate. Conclude this with a statement of faith by the entire congregation, confessing the beliefs of the Christian faith and pledging to renew their baptismal vows.
The Laying On of Hands
The heart of the ordination rite is the laying on of hands. Invite those ministers in attendance to surround the candidate, who may sit or kneel, and place their hands upon his head. Instruct the service leader to offer a prayer, petitioning God to send the Holy Spirit upon the candidate and to bless her with the gifts of leadership, discernment and virtue. Then invite the candidate to rise and receive signs of ministry appropriate to your tradition (i.e., an alb, a Bible, chalice, etc.). Depending on tradition, invite the candidate to address the congregation with a few words. End the service in customary fashion, with the newly ordained minister joining his fellow ministers at the table (or altar) to consecrate Holy Communion and share the elements with the congregation.
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