Lord, we ask your blessing upon your Church that we may show signs of being One in you, holy and dedicated to being apostolic as we reach out to all peoples. We pray for all who are reaching out to others in your name and in love. Bless and guide all who preach the word and all who share in your healing ministry. Especially today we pray for those you have called to the office of Deacon, Priest and Bishop in your Church. Fill them with your Spirit and refreshing daily. Amen.
Adapted from David Adam (2007)
This session looks at the call to ministry through ordination. Within the Anglican church there is a three-fold order of ordained ministry. There is ordained ministry as a Bishop, Priest or Deacon and these ministries are very public ministries. Ordained men and women are the ‘public' face of the Church.
Photo: Diocese of Derby Deacons 2019
Types of Ordained Ministry
Priests can work for the church full-time and receive a stipend (an income) and usually accommodation. Whilst most will minister in a parish setting, some priests will function in a specialist ministry such as chaplains to hospitals, the armed forces, prisons, industry, schools, universities and colleges. Or in ordained pioneer ministry.
Priests can also serve the church in a self-supporting ministry and continue in their on-going occupations. These people are called non-stipendiary or self-supporting ministers. The title, however, reflects not on their ministry but the fact that they receive no income for it. Still others feel called to serve only their locality, not the Church at large. Therefore they are ordained to their local area only and have a limited license as an Assistant, Self-Supporting, minister. They are still Deacons and Priests and serve a ministry that captures the local knowledge of Lay Readers and blends it with the ministry of the ordained.
After some years of experience some Priests find they are called to the office of Archdeacon or Bishop. These roles carry Diocesan responsibility and move a Priest into a wider ministry, covering a greater geographical area. There are two kinds of Bishop: Suffragan and Diocesan. A Suffragan Bishop has less of wide geographical remit and comes under the authority of the Diocesan Bishop.
The Nature of Ordained Ministry
Read chapter 9 of ‘This is our calling’, Richardson, C (ed.) 2004.
The main differences between Lay Reader and Priest is that only Priests can celebrate Holy Communion (or the Eucharist), perform Baptisms and carry out Weddings. And only Priests can be Incumbents (Vicar or Rector) of Churches. This is a role difference, but there is also an 'ontological' (something about being or our very nature ) difference which takes place at Ordination. It is indescribable for those who experience it very real and palpable and it is not about being better or superior, simply a difference which comes from being called to this kind of ministry.
This ministry is also even more obviously public in nature. Often ministers do not live in their homes but in houses provided by the Diocese and these in themselves are much more public and this effects not only the Priest but also their family. Ordained ministry is a privilege and a blessing but there is also a very real sacrifice to ordained ministry – once you are ordained you can never be unordained. Some roles in the church are no longer open to ordained ministers as, for a variety of good reasons, they must be occupied by lay people. It can sometimes be a lonely place, especially in leadership (which itself is often a difficult and lonely place). This is often overlooked by congregations and also by those thinking about ordination. This is not to put anyone off however! There is a sacrifice to most worthwhile things and ordained ministry is certainly very worthwhile.
Spend some time thinking about what you have read and discovered about ordianed minstry.
Has it changed the way you think and feel about ordination?
How will what you have learned affect the way you think about and pray for the ordained ministers in your church or benefice?
Spotlight on Doctrine
Ordination in the Baptist Church: Ordination is an act of worship by which the congregation, representative of the people of God, acclaims the one being ordained as chosen and empowered by the Holy Spirit to exercise gifts for ministry within the church. Ordination is not to a holier ministry than those given to other baptized believers. The laying on of hands with prayer invokes God’s blessing upon the one ordained and signifies that he or she is set apart as a servant to the servants of God. Ordination is a gift to the church as well as recognition by the church of the minister’s inward call. In the ordination service, the church receives the ministry of Christ in its midst through the grace of the Holy Spirit in the calling of the ordinand. Ordination for Baptists is a service of thanksgiving for God’s love revealed in the minister’s calling, a service of petition for God’s continued blessing upon the one called, and a service of submission to God’s authority revealed in the gifted one set aside for ministry.
Spotlight on Spirituality
Almost every religious order has a ‘spiritual elite’ – Priest, Lama, Sadhu, Padre, Pontiff, Abbess. Jesus says ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of people’ – not mere supporters of another’s ministry, but active in your own right. You are sufficient. God is calling. Will you pick up?
In what way do you think ordination is about being as well as doing?
Reflect for a moment on the difference between a Lay Reader and an SSM (Self Supporting Minister) with limited license – what difference would being ordained make to the ministry in the locality?
The role of the priest is different to that of a Deacon. What skills and gifts do you think the Anglican Church should seek in candidates who feel called to the ministry of a priest?
What are the challenges that face an ordained person in today’s church compared to the early church?
How can the church discern a person’s call? What criteria would you use?
What are the gifts that God has given to you to enable you to contribute to the ministry of the Church?
God our Father, Lord of all the world,through your Son you have called us into the fellowship of your universal Church: hear our prayer for your faithful people that in their vocation and ministry
each may be an instrument of your love, and give to your servants, chosen to be ordained the needful gifts of grace;
through our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who is alive and reigns with you,in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.