I am not sure what to call this

Folks I began a journey some three years ago.  The journey to go to seminary and possibly become ordained in the PCUSA.  There were many twists and turns along the way.  I hit some pretty rough spots.  I mourned deeply for moments that I felt alone and abandoned by the process.

I wrestled for some idea of what, where, and why I was called.  I felt at times I had no call.  In other moments I knew I was called.  Many of my professors, friends, classmates, administrators, and a few strangers affirmed my call.

I graduated this past May.  I have not passed a single ordination exam.  I am still an inquier, after ywo and a halfs years in the process.  I am frustrated.  I am discouraged.  I fell like calling it quits.

I hear many beautiful and affirming stories about the call process we are required to endure n the way to the big kids club.  I know it works, for some folks.  For others it is a living nightmare.

It is my conviction that if you do not absolutely follow the flow and funk of the process to a T you are left out in the dark.  The system is rigid and cold.  It has a veiled sense of flexibility.   Yet we lose many beautiful, creative people to other denominations.  Why?

The ordination system has become another way to “watchdog” the in-crowd.  The ordination system was never designed to institute power and exclude the honor of service.  I hear that it is a privilege and not a right to be ordained.  You may be right [folks that offer this].  I counter, “If you hold that as truth then I question your belief in a body of all believers.”  Especially in these days.  Ordination can exclude.  To what are we ordaining?  Why?

I yearn for a time when the ordination process is not a hazing ceremony capturing all the power mongering fantastics of a fraternity rush week.  When the denomination decides to relinquish power and move in a direction that is truly free of oppression and division we can proclaim a rightful gospel message that we ourselves practice and not just speak of.

How can we walk with all of our aspiring leaders?  How can we reach out and walk along side of them?  We need another “big-steeple” like we need another hole in our @$$.  I pray that the powers that be take the message on the Mount seriously and unclench their fist.  What are you protecting? What are you protecting for?   Christ is at hand…he is not worried about ordination.

4 thoughts on “I am not sure what to call this

  1. The way I figured it, if my “sense of call” could endure the endless cycles of paperwork and reports and testing nearly a decade of highly aerobic hoop-jumping, it’d be battle-tested for the bighappyfuntime that often occurs in our deeply human, flawed, frustrating and in-need-of-healing congregations. One of the best weapons in our Kingdom battle against brokenness is a patient drive as relentless as the sea, and Lord knows it taught me that.

    In other words, it’s trial by process. I’d have preferred Trial By Stone, myself, but that skill set is far less useful in ministry:

  2. David,
    that is the @&th of it all. The process has become a funnel to pour creative folks down. I am not opposed to hard word and determined progress. I am against abusive relationships that are far to often one sided.
    The system works for some and others navigate it with a sense of trepidation. Ye more are broken by the process as they are ravaged by a cold, unkind system that is kin to hazing. Is this really Christ-like?

    I am not for removing all academic or ecclesiastic qualifications in the process. I want to see a more personal process that is filled with investment into and for the future of the church.

    I always heard you get more with sugar than you do with vinegar. The same could be said about the call process. You would get better, more loving leaders in a system that nurtures candidates rather than hazing them.

    Who do we want to entrust our children to? The current system tends to breed emotionless, stifling, uncreative, folks thankful to get out alive.

    I offer that we celebrate the leaders of the church in all forms. Leaders in laity, in volunteering, and in the pastorate. It takes all kinds to be the Body.

    Yes David, sometimes stoning seems less painless than the process we endure.

    I thank you for your comments. Blessings.

  3. I agree, Ryan. I had a terrible time getting through the ords. Everyone around me kept saying, “Don’t be creative. Don’t be smart. Shoot for average.” Which… really… if that’s what we’re looking for, there’s something wrong.

    And there was a point when I just had to say, “I may not be Presbyterian at the end of this, but I know that I’m called. I will be a pastor. I may be a UCC pastor… but I will be a pastor.”

    You will be a pastor. I’m not sure what it will look like, exactly. I hope–for our sake–you’ll be in the Presbyterian Church. But whatever your path ends up looking like, please know that your loved and supported by so many people (I know that because when I talk to your professors, they always ask me to prod you through this!)

  4. Thank you Carol. I agree… I am a pastor right now. I am not orained in the presbyterian church. I have been called to serve by God and confirmed by my community. It is clear and present in my life.

    I loved this ““Don’t be creative. Don’t be smart. Shoot for average.” Which… really… if that’s what we’re looking for, there’s something wrong.” I agree 100%. I will not compromise my call. I know I need to translate my language into presbyterian and work to voice my viosion to the presby powers that be. I am encouraged by folks like you and Brian that bless me and Mere as we walk this road.

    I pray that the denomination opens its heart and doors to be truly inclusive to all. We got to relinquish the grip. I need to relinquish the grip. Blessings, Carol!

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