By: Christa Meland
“We need to be bold and continue naming the name of Jesus. Minnesota United Methodists, it is time to let the naming continue!”
That’s what Bishop Bruce R. Ough told both in-person and virtual attendees at the 2020 Celebration of Ministry Milestones on Saturday, at which six clergy were ordained, five were commissioned, and one was recognized as an associate member. (Watch video of full service and view photos.)
This worship service typically takes place during Annual Conference Session with hundreds of people present to give thanks for the honorees and bear witness to their ministry milestones. The COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a different type of Annual Conference this year—with attendees gathering in late August over computer screens rather than in-person, and a separate and later worship service to celebrate those experiencing transitions in life and ministry. While honorees and a small number of their guests participated in-person at Hamline Church in St. Paul with masks and other safety measures in place, hundreds more watched the service live or via video recording afterward.
In a sermon drawing on Acts 3:1-10 and 4:5-12 in which Peter heals a lame beggar and declares that Jesus healed him, Bishop Ough said we often lack the boldness to use the name of Jesus because we are afraid. But we must declare that we are in the business of raising the dead—that there is hope after despair, that grace is available to all, that justice prevails, that love conquers hate, that there is life after death. In other words, we must continue the naming.
“Come to this altar with the name of Jesus on your lips and in your hearts,” Ough told those being recognized. “Come and remember what a privilege it is to bear the name of Christ. Come and claim your authority to proclaim the name of Jesus and be a vehicle for Jesus’ saving, healing, transforming, and reconciling power.”
All of those being honored publicly affirmed that they have been called by God; vowed to remain faithful in prayer and the study of holy scriptures, follow the teachings of Christ, and lead people to faith; and promised to seek peace, justice, and freedom for all people.
Then, one by one, the honorees were prayed over by Bishop Ough and clergy sponsors they had chosen, and they were sent forth to lead God’s people.
Rev. Paul Baudhuin was recognized as an associate member “elected by fellow clergy” and “called to serve among us,” and a cross was placed around his neck. Associate members of an annual conference enter into the itinerant ministry of the Church and are available on a continuing basis for appointment by the bishop; they have served as licensed local pastors for at least four years and have completed licensing school and basic course of study.
Revs. Lee Miller, Steve Reiser, Yolanda Williams, and Leslie Zeek were commissioned as provisional elders, while Rev. Katie Froehlich was commissioned as a provisional deacon. Each of them received a clergy vest and was sent “to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, to announce the reign of God, and to equip the church for ministry.” Provisional members have completed at least half of their educational requirements and serve under appointment to gain experience in ministry prior to becoming ordained.
Revs. Dana Neuhauser, Lauren Rheingans, and Grant Spencer were ordained as deacons “to proclaim the Word of God and to lead God's people in ministries of compassion and justice.” A cross-adorned red stole was placed upon each of them; deacon stoles are worn over the left shoulder and under the right arm.
Revs. Kelly Lamon, Abigail Ozanne, and Andy Petter were ordained as elders “to preach the Word of God, to administer the Holy Sacraments, and to order the life of the Church.” A cross-adorned red stole was placed upon each of them; elder stoles are worn around the neck over both shoulders.
Although there was no congregational singing in order to minimize the risk of the spread of COVID-19, an upbeat piano rendition of “Halle, Halle, Halle” followed the recognition of each group, and those present showed their support with a big round of applause.
“We thank you, gracious God, for raising up among us faithful servants,” members of the congregation said at the close of the worship service. “Clothe them with your righteousness, and grant that we, with them, may glorify you by giving ourselves to others. Amen.”
Thanks be to God for these leaders among us!
Christa Meland is director of communications for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church