Friday, June 24, 2016

A celebration of ministry journeys

Ordinanation candidates Janet Durrwachter, Michael Druck, and Megan Burd-Harris answered the Historical Questions posed by Bishop Jeremiah J. Park during the Celebration of Ministry Service on Friday evening, June 10.

By Rev. Bethany P. Wood

The congregation of the Susquehanna Annual Conference gathered on Friday, June 10, to celebrate the ministries of retiring pastors, witness the passing of the mantles from the retiring class to the incoming ordination class, and view the historic examination for admission into full connection to those being admitted as elders.

The evening began with the congregation singing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” followed by opening prayer lead by Rev. Michelle Whitlock.
The central themes of the service moved in four parts: The Journey of the Word, The Journey of Sacrament, The Journey of Order and Service, and the Often Overlooked Journey.

The Journey of the Word was a time for honoring the retirees. Each was greeted personally by Bishop Jeremiah J. Park. Honoring service and commitment to the people served and Savior-loved was key. Ministry was related to the living out of the Word, and the grace surrounding that call.

The Journey of the Sacrament began with the proclamation of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28, and underlined the importance of baptism and communion in pastoral ministry.

The Journey of Order and Service was based on Ephesians 4, where persons are raised up to be pastors, evangelists, and teachers to equip people for the works of service. Lovingly, retirees were reminded of the many “hats” worn in the course of life in the parish. Worship planner, financial advisor, visionary, manager, and coach were just a few mentioned. Three books, the “Book of Discipline,” “The United Methodist Hymnal,” and “The Book of Worship” were placed on the tables on the stage. These symbolized, along with a towel and basin, the call of service.

The Often Overlooked Journey recognized the pivotal contribution of families and spouses in supporting a pastor in the performance of her/his duties. Spouses and family members were invited to stand and receive the gratitude of the assembly for their sacrifices – all for the sake of Christ.

After the Prayer of Thanksgiving for Journeys of Service, an offering was taken to benefit the churches in Mongolia.

The evening’s message was given by artist and pastor Joe Castillo. Entitled “Sandstory: Epic Stories in a New Light,” he began by gently asserting that stories engage and draw us in. By exchanging life stories, we get to know and influence one another. The world’s greatest storyteller was Jesus, and with his death and resurrection, his disciples went out to share their stories of how Jesus changed their lives.

Without speaking a word, Castillo shared the story of the Prodigal Son. Using his unique art of SandStory, he painted images of the parable in sand projected on the two screens in the assembly hall. Powerful depictions changed with the artistic motion of his hand, bringing to life the drama and resolution of the son and his father. Castillo explained that this is a visual generation, and a generation that is drawn to the gospel in artistic and sensory ways. “We need to capture the eye as well as the ear in worship,” he said. Castillo also indicated that he is lucky to live close to Pinewood Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, a visual company started by a United Methodist pastor, which promotes family/church-friendly values. Concluding, he shared an inspiring depiction of the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ.

Following Castillo’s stunning presentation, the Passing of the Mantles and the examination of ordination candidates occurred. The evening ended in prayer and a hymn of celebration.

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