LAKELAND -- People started filing into Youkey Theatre early on Friday night. They wanted to make sure they could get a seat at the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination at the 2014 Florida Annual Conference.
|Bishop Ken Carter prepares for laying hands on a candidate for ordination during an evening service Friday at The Lakeland Center. Photos by Cindy Skop.|
Carmen Nelson, of Trinity UMC, Gainesville, found a nice spot and was looking forward to the event.
“I’m here because I really feel as a Methodist that this is a sharing of everything that Methodism is about,” said Nelson, who works at Trinity UMC.
“John Wesley would be happy. We have our differences, but this is where we come together and celebrate each other.”
Linda Cook, another member of Trinity UMC, put it like this: “It’s my favorite part of the conference. It’s the future of the church.”
Cook said her husband, Jim, is on the conference Board of Ordained Ministry.
“We know several of the people who are being ordained or commissioned.”
While those attending the ceremony were finding their seats in the theatre, those being licensed, commissioned or ordained were lining up in the hallway outside.
|Bishop Ken Carter, above left, prepares to license, commission and ordain a new crop of church leaders in front of a theater packed with supporters.|
There was an air of anticipation, as the men and women, dressed in gowns prepared to march in.
Samantha Cowan and Vicki Harrison, both wearing white robes, were first in line. They were waiting to be commissioned as provisional deacons, and both were obviously eager to take their next spiritual step.
Cowan, of St. Augustine, said she feels really supported and believes the commissioning ceremony “is, in a way, a really nice confirmation of the calling I’m feeling from God.”
Harrison, of First UMC, Brandon, was feeling excited and humbled at the same time.
“I have a lot of people from my congregation here. They’ve been so incredibly supportive and it’s been such a long journey,” Harrison said.
Trevor Johnston and Michael Beck, both being commissioned as provisional elders, said the ceremony marked an important step in their spiritual life.
“I got called to ministry when I was in seventh grade,” Johnston said.
Beck said he’s been a pastor for a couple of years and is now transitioning to a provisional elder.
He wasn’t the only one excited about that milestone.
“About half of my church is here. They came in a bus,” Beck said.
Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey of the Louisiana Annual Conference offered the sermon.
In introducing her, Florida Bishop Ken Carter described her as “one of the leading voices in our denomination, calling us to engage in the mission of God in this world.”
Harvey told the audience she’d been looking forward to the event for quite some time.
“I love the ordination service. It’s such a pivotal moment in your life and in the life of the church. This is one of those times when we bump up against the holy.”
|Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey tells ordinands that God will use their gifts, whatever they may be.|
She gave a scripture lesson on Psalm 139, which proclaims the impossibility of escaping the presence of an all-knowing God.
God is always there, Harvey said. He’s there in the cancer diagnosis, the lost job, the lost spouse, the lost son or daughter -- even then, God is there, she said. He knows everything about people and still calls them to ministry, she said.
“All that you bring to this altar tonight, as hands are placed on your head and words of commissioning or ordination are shared – all that you bring, the good and the not so good – is more than enough,” Harvey said.
While many feel ill-equipped to do God’s work, God will always provide what is needed, she added.
“The Christian life, friend, is hard work, but it calls us into community,” Harvey said. “When we rub off on each other, transformation occurs. God has taken our connective tissue and woven it together to make something marvelous.”
She reminded the men and women taking part in the service that “whatever you bring, whatever you place at this altar of your ordination, God will use it. God does not waste anything.”
Besides being grateful for Harvey’s presence, Carter said he was also delighted that Bishop Robert E. Fannin and Bishop Charlene Kammerer, both Florida ordained elders, were there to take part in the laying of the hands during the ceremony.
Those being licensed, commissioned or ordained are named below:
Nathan Paul Adams
Joshua William Bell
Lauren Dunkle Dancey
Kerry Michael Foote
Anthony Raymond Fotsch
Pamela Anderson Hall
William Stephen Hart
Sarah Beth-Ann Miller
Brian Christopher Sanders
Matthew Morgan Williams
Daniel John Wunderlich
Laura Lee Berg
Commissioned as provisional elders
Amos Jean Baptiste Adhemar
David Taylor Averill
Michael Adam Beck
Trevor Garrett Johnston
Corey Antoine Jones
Jason David Knott
Erwin Adrian Lopez
Vidalis Teresa Lopez
Gary Alphonse Marcelin
Pamela Ann McMillan
Jennifer Zeller Potter
Aaron Michael Rousseau
Brian Harrell Sanderson
Carolyn Edythe Thomas
Danielle Marie Upton
Larry Herbert White Jr.
Terence James Wines
Commissioned to be provisional deacons
Victoria Hughes Harrison
Samantha Tyburski Cowan
Licensed local pastors
Karen Lee Alford
Curtiss James Cain
David Grant Dunbar
David Michael Groos
Michael Chester Halley
Heather Jeanne Harding
Frederick Nathaniel Jones II
John Andrew Ladd
Ernesto Antonio Machado
Karen Lee MacDuff
Elizabeth Proctor Murchison
Theodore Lord Nelson
Frederick Bradford Phillips
Orlando Ramirez Pardo
Erik Paul Seise
Emily Anne Sterling
Dora Lynn Thomas
Rodney Andrew Wesemann
Christopher Lee Worlds
-- B.C. Manion is a freelance writer based in Tampa.