Bishop encourages ordinands to make most of ministry (June 15, 2004)



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Bishop encourages ordinands to make most of ministry

June 15, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140   
mwacht@flumc.org     Orlando  {0092}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

DAYTONA BEACH — Holding a small, worn minister's prayer book Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker urged the 2004 class of ordinands to fully experience their ministerial careers.

DAYTONA BEACH — Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker addresses clergy retiring and the 2004 class of ordinands June 6 at the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event here. “I’m happy for all of you today,” he said to the ordinands during the ordination service. “This is a joyful day. I pray that, by God’s grace, you will make the most of your ministry.” Photo by Geoff Anderson, Photo #04-0031.

Whitaker addressed the group during the ordination service June 6 of the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event at Bethune-Cookman College here.

"I cherish this little book because it has helped me to develop a spiritual life that is appropriate for the rigors of the ministry," Whitaker said, adding the faded book, with its yellow pages and deteriorating binding, is a reminder to him that his days of active ministry are numbered.

"I have the opportunity to say something to those of you who are just beginning your ministry," he said. "I know the years will pass quickly for you as they are passing quickly for me. I don't want you to waste your time. I want you to experience the ministry with all of its height, depth, breadth. I want you to make the most of your ministry."

Whitaker said the only thing he could do to help the ordinands accomplish that goal was to point them to the source of life in ministry-the apostolic tradition.

"The church is the community that believes the divine revelation and its knowledge of revelation are based upon the witness of the apostles," Whitaker said. "The apostles proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth was God present with us as a human being, who died for our sins, who rose from the dead, who spit the Holy Spirit to create the church to be a light to the nations, and who will be revealed at the end of history as the sovereign, the savior of the whole world."

Issuing a warning "to all overly speculative biblical scholars and theologians," Whitaker cautioned them to not tamper with the witness of the apostles. He said the "original synthesis is not an onion that can be peeled away, but it is the rock which is the foundation upon which the church is laid."

Referencing the apostle Peter's charge to Christian leaders of his day, Whitaker encouraged the ordinands to embrace their responsibilities eagerly.

"The apostle Peter said, 'I exhort the elders among you to tend the flock of God that is in your charge,' " Whitaker said. "Just as Jesus once commissioned Peter to 'feed my sheep,' so now Peter exhorted the elders to tend to the flock of God and to do so eagerly."

Whitaker implored them to maintain their eagerness despite times of weariness, disappointment and discouragement. He said they must rekindle their eagerness for ministry during the low moments. "If you do not then you will turn the vocation of ministry into a mere profession focused more on the techniques of management than upon the adventure of bringing people to Christ for the transformation of their lives," Whitaker said.

Remembering and honoring Christ is the only way to maintain eagerness for the ministry, Whitaker added.

"You do your ministry not for the people, not for the bishop, but for God," he said.

Whitaker also cautioned the ordinands to appropriately exercise their authority, which he said is nothing other than the right to govern and granted by the community so the work of the community can be done. Whitaker said authority must be used with humility.

"Deacons are given the authority by the church to proclaim the word of God. Elders are given the authority to proclaim the word of God and to administer the sacraments and also to order the life of the church," Whitaker said. "Take the authority given to you and use it."

Whitaker said the anxiety that often comes from ministry "must be cast on God" because a relationship with God liberates a person from anxiety.

Whitaker also cautioned the ordinands to resist evil. "The apostle Peter said discipline yourselves, keep alert," he said. "Like a roaring lion, your adversary, the devil, prowls looking around for someone to devour. Resist him, remain steadfast in the faith."

Whitaker ended with a blessing and best wishes for the ordinands. "I'm happy for all of you today," he said. "This is a joyful day. I pray that, by God's grace, you will make the most of your ministry."

To view daily photos of the event's activities and business visit http://www.flumc.org/ac2004/index.htm.

###

This article relates to the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.




Contact Us

The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011