By Fred Koenig
The Missouri Conference welcomed eight elders into full connection and recognized the orders of two others during the Saturday night ordination service.
Elders are called to a lifetime of ministry of service, word, sacrament and order. Servanthood is expressed by leading worship and prayer, administering sacraments, exercising pastoral supervision and leading the Church in mission to the world. Those ordained as elders on Saturday night were Glen Patrick Connoley, Katrina Drew, Tina L. Harris, Chelsey D. Hillyer, Mark Andrew Kailbourn Sr., Ashley Morgan Kirk, William “Peter” Norton and Daniel Lorene Shanks.
Clergy from another denomination may have their orders recognized and be received as a full member of the United Methodist connection. On Saturday night Jason D. Bryles and F. Willis Johnson Jr. had their orders recognized.
Ordination is into service of Christ’s holy Church, not just the United Methodist Church. Bishop Sylvester Williams is the Bishop for the third Episcopal District of the Christian Methodist Episcopal church, which covers ten states. He brought ecumenical greetings to the ordination service.
“How good and how pleasant it is to gather together in unity. We greet you in with Christ’s joy,” Bishop Williams said.
He thanked God for pan-Methodism, and for Bishop Farr joining in the Emancipation Day on January 1 in St. Louis.
Bishop Frank Beard of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference was the preacher for the ordination service. He opened with a prayer, “Oh Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, then nudge me when I’ve said enough. Amen.”
Bishop Beard said whenever he sees lists of the toughest jobs, he feels the lists always fails to mention the toughest two. He considers the second toughest to be a stay-at-home parent, and the toughest to be serving a church as a pastor.
“Being in ministry is toughest because we are constantly conducting spiritual warfare,” he said.
As a junior in high school, Beard was on a youth group mission trip to Haiti. Upon arriving there, they were immediately taken to the top of the mountain overlooking the city to pray. He prayed and cried, and asked God to show him what to do with his life. Then when he looked down at the lights of the city they seemed to be in the shape of a cross, and he heard “Take up your cross and follow me.”
Once when traveling in Indiana he saw a man carrying a large cross. As he went by he saw the cross had been equipped with wheels, was cushioned at the carry point, and even had a place to store supplies. He found it hilarious, as it wasn’t what Jesus had in mind when he said “Take up your cross and follow me.”
“Ministry is not always easy. It will take you to places filled with challenges,” Bishop Beard said. “The bishop and cabinet won’t always get it right, but God will take you where you are needed.”
He told the story of going on a hospital visit, and upon entering the room, the little old woman in the hospital bed called him a racial slur, cursed him and told him to get out of her room. Instead, he approached her bed, all 6’1”, 347 pounds of him, and said, “Lady, you’re going to die, and your soul isn’t in any shape to meet the Lord.” He then preceded to pray over her, not a 50 cent prayer but a $5 prayer, and left.
The next day when he was back at the hospital in the elevator, he prayed that he didn’t want to see that woman, and she didn’t want to see him, so he’d just skip her room. He wasn’t half a step past her room when he heard God say, “Who called you?” and he thought back to “Take up your cross and follow me.”
So he went back to her room. The woman explained that her father was a grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan and he taught her to hate people like him. She told her story, making some attempt at toning down her rhetoric. He asked if he could pray for her, and she said, “You can pray for me, but don’t touch me.” “Not a problem,” Bishop Beard said he thought, adding that if he had laid hands on her, it might have been around her neck.
“Ministry isn’t always comfortable,” he said. “There is no padded cross with wheels.”
The offering collected at the service was for the Pathways Out of Poverty Initiative. Dr. Elaine Eversmeyer Henderson thanked the Missouri Conference for initiating Pathways Out of Poverty. She’s a retired school administrator.
“The Lord has laid a number on my heart, $50,000,” she said. “Think about it over time. Go back to your churches and small groups and pray about it.”
She said she has been blessed, because she has seen a mountain move. A young child was failing in school, and they realized it was because he was having difficulty reading, so they paired him with a mentor. Years later she saw his mother at a grocery store and was told he is now graduating from the University of Arkansas with a degree in engineering.