Six months ago the word on the street was “BOOM.” If you’re not up on UM acronym lingo that stands for Board of Ordained Ministry, the group of lay and clergy members of an annual conference who interview candidates for ordained ministry. I’ve always thought it appropriate that it sounds like some sort of explosion because it’s also the one word that can make the brow of 3rd year UM MDiv students begin sweat with a single mention. [smile] Journeying alongside Caleb and the rest of our seminary cohorts as they went through these interviews in early spring was a practice of remaining calm in the midst of an anxious storm of preparatory activity and then waiting for results.
Now the prepping and waiting is over and I get to experience the joy of watching as one by one their conferences affirm and confirm their calling to be ministers in the UM church. Last week the first of our group of friends, Jana, who went through the process this year was commissioned in Oklahoma. Tonight two others will be commissioned– Emily in North Georgia and Chase in Arkansas. Tomorrow midday I’ll watch my Caleb be received officially as a provisional member of the Holston Conference. Then next week Jeff will join the Western North Carolina Conference. How I wish I could attend each service to celebrate! [smile]
I am so proud and excited to watch them begin ministry. At the same time it feels a bit weird to watch as we are all embarking on the journey we’ve been “packing” for over the last three-ish years. Even at graduation last month this day felt so far away. Now here it is. Now we’re about to step over the threshold into a new life. Obviously emotions are mixed. One of the things that make the process especially hard is being out of the comfort zone that was the seminary community. In a dream world we’d all be in a conference together and get to witness firsthand the joys and sorrows of being in ministry. We can still share and witness from afar but I would be crazy to think that sharing will have the same closeness.
Not being members of the same conference does present new opportunities. Instead of focusing on the separation from our friends, I’m trying to focus on the potential to build new connections. I rejoice in knowing that others in Oklahoma, North Georgia, Arkansas, and Western North Carolina will have the opportunity to experience the ministry, friendship, witness, service, and love of our friends who will be serving there.