A day that I’ve prepared for all my life has finally come. When I was younger, I didn’t realize it was a day I was preparing for, but as I look back over my life I realize that preparation was indeed taking place and God has been leading me to this moment all along. On Thursday, September 23, 2010, I was ordained as a pastor at my church in Nashville, TN.
Growing up, I always dreamed of becoming a pastor’s wife. My dad was a pastor and I loved life in the church, life in the spotlight, life in service to the congregation… I couldn’t conceive of a female pastor, so I dreamed of what I could understand – marriage to a pastor. In my mid-twenties, I found myself still single and short one pastor to wed, so I earnestly sought God for direction. After a year of prayer, fasting, and seeking God’s will, He cracked my little brain open by instructing me to go to seminary. Girls didn’t go to seminary. And yet I felt excitement bubbling up inside me. He told me that day, “I want YOU to be a pastor, Kimberly.” In the fall of 2004, I quit my full-time job, sold nearly everything I owned, and moved away to attend seminary. When I graduated, I went into full-time ministry. In November of 2008, I was licensed as a congregational minister (the deaconate) and was able to perform the sacraments of the church within my local church.
God has led me through what I can only describe as a fiery trial during this process. He has tested my ability to trust Him, my commitment to the faith, my willingness to obey, and if I’ll submit to His leading when I cannot even begin to understand what He’s doing. It has been painful and challenging, but it has also been the most rewarding experience of my life. The ceremony of ordination was especially meaningful for me because of this journey.
The ceremony was taken from The Book of Common Prayer and I want to share some of the most meaningful parts of the service for me.
Reverend to Recipients:
Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in accordance with the Holy Scriptures, obey those who may have authority over you and your work?
I am willing and ready to do so; and declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of the Christian Faith.
Reverend to Recipients:
…Now you are called to work as a pastor, minister, and teacher, together with your fellow ministers, and to take your share in the work of the Church. As a minister, it will be your task to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and to fashion your life in accordance with its precepts. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach the Gospel, to declare God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, to pronounce God’s blessing, to share in the administration of Water Baptism and in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, and to perform various other ministrations entrusted to you. In all that you do, you are to nourish Christ’s people from the riches of His grace, and to strengthen them to the glory of God in this life and in the life to come.
Then we went through a series of questions and answers. Several of them stood out vividly to me…
Will you do your best to pattern your life, and that of your household, in accordance with the teachings of Christ, so that you may be a wholesome example to your people?
Do you understand that your ministry may take you through personal deprivation and that the exercise of your calling does not depend on financial remuneration or the appreciation of men?
Will you persevere in prayer, both in public and in private, asking God’s grace, both for yourself and for others, offering all your labors to God, through the mediation of Jesus Christ, and in the sanctification of the Holy Spirit?
After we responded affirmatively to the questions asked, we were given this charge:
…Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage – with great patience and careful instruction… Keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.
We then sang the hymn, “Take my Life and Let it Be”, which moved me greatly. After the song, our pastor spoke to each one of us regarding the calling he sees on our lives. I was honored by his words, affirming the timing of my ordination and what he sees in me.
We were then given the symbols of our ordination. Each of us had an ordained pastor who has been instrumental in our ministry stand behind us. The ordained pastor who is responsible for the prayer ministry at our church stood behind me. She was with me during my licensing and I was so thankful to have her there for my ordination as well. She has been a mentor, confidant, and friend to me over the years.
The first symbol of ordination is a red stole. Our pastor explained that the stole is like a yoke being placed around our necks, yoking us to Christian service and ministry for the rest of our lives. Much like marriage, we are consecrated to God. It is a heavy responsibility, and the color of the stole is red to symbolize the blood sacrifice of Christ. As pastors, we must be willing to walk in Christ’s footsteps and lay down our lives for The Church. It may require our physical blood because as leaders, we are to be the first to confront threats and to protect those we serve. Although authority comes with the stole, a great responsibility also comes with it. We are to be servants to those we lead.
The second symbol of ordination is a red towel, a reminder that our office calls for servanthood and humility. As Jesus washed the feet of His disciples and dried them with a towel, so we are to serve with humility and grace.
It meant a great deal to me to be able to serve communion to my friends and family members. When my parents came up together, memories flooded over me. I remembered the many times my father served communion to our family. As children, we were often antsy and distracted, but Dad would never let us take communion lightly. He always made sure we were fully aware of the importance of the sacrament, appreciative of Christ’s sacrifice, and pure in our hearts before the Lord. I could barely speak as I handed the bread to my parents and tears flowed down my cheeks. I felt so blessed to have parents who faithfully taught me the truth of God’s Word and understood how sacred the sacrament they were receiving from my hands truly is.
After communion, all the pastors were called on stage and we praised the Lord through congregational singing. It was an appropriate end to a beautiful service.
I’m so thankful for everyone who was there to celebrate with me. I’m not sure how God plans to use me in the future. His ways are a mystery to me, but I love surprises so I’m looking ahead with anticipation to what He has around the corner. For now, I will continue to serve as a volunteer at my church and thank God for the way He leads and His perfect timing.