St Alban’s Episcopal Church
Saturday-Sunday, January 7-8, 2023
A wonderful day: The Ordination of Ryan Williams The Presentation
The ordination service begins with a long procession of choir members, candidates and their “presenters”, all the clergy of the diocese who are able to be present, and the bishop herself. At the Cathedral the magnificent organ simply sings its heart out – which adds to the solemnity – and to the joy!
Immediately after everyone gathers, each candidate stands in front of the bishop, before the few clergy and lay people they have chosen to “present” them. Today, those of us who presented him repeated the formula: “Diane, Bishop in the Church of God, on behalf of the clergy and people of the Diocese of West Missouri, we present to you Jon Ryan Williams to be ordained deacon in Christ’s holy catholic Church. “
When the four candidates had been presented, Bishop Diane asked: “Have they been selected in accordance with the canons of this Church? And do you believe their manner of life to be suitable for the exercise of this ministry?”
Members of the Standing Committee and the Commission of Ministry (both clergy and lay) certified that they had indeed satisfied those requirements.
Then the bishop asked the candidates: “Will you be loyal to the doctrine, discipline, and worship of Christ as this Church has received them? And will you, in accordance with the canons of this Church, obey your bishop and other ministers who may have authority over you and your work?”
Each responded: “I am willing and ready to do so; and I solemnly declare that I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be the Word of God, and to contain all things necessary to salvation; and I do solemnly engage to confirm to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church.”
Then they, and their presenters as witnesses, signed that declaration in public.
The bishop reminded the congregation of the importance of this ministry for which we presented these persons, asked that if anyone knew of “any crime or impediment because of which we should not proceed to come forward..”
When there were none – she asked the entire body present:
“Is it your will that Ryan, Brittany, David and Ryan be ordained deacons?”
And the response was a thunderous “It is!”
And then there were the long, sung prayers, the litany for Ordination – and the ones to be ordained return to their seats.
Now notice – the actual ordination has not yet taken place. If this reminds you of baptism, and of marriage, it should. In each of these circumstances the persons to receive the sacraments are presented, in the case of marriage asked whether there are any reasons not to proceed, the congregation is asked to support these persons, and they are prayed for before they are married or baptized.
For us, this matters. We live our Christian life together, in community, and we are members of each other; if there is reluctance to proceed, or if we do not acknowledge our responsibility to each other in prayer and other support, the ordinand, or the newly married couple, or the newly baptized, stand alone – and that is actually both difficult and heretical!
The readings were Jeremiah 1:4-9, Psalm 84, Acts 6:2-7, and Luke 22:24-27
I hope the text of the sermon will be made available since it was excellent.
Only after the Creed does the actual Ordination take place – and that after the “examen” where the bishop outlines the responsibilities of the deacon and asks question after question of the candidates, very much like the questions we ask at baptism and as you remember, were asked of Bishop Jos when he was ordained bishop of Idaho.
Do you believe you are truly called…? Do you now commit yourself to this… “Will you be guided…by your bishop? Will you be faithful in prayer and in the reading and study of Holy Scriptures? Will you look for Christ in all others…? Will you do your best to pattern your life in accordance with the teachings of Christ…? Will you in all things seek not your glory but the glory of the Lord Christ?
Each time the candidates, standing before her, answered, “I will.”
Only after the singing of the ancient prayer: “Come Holy Ghost…” did the candidates actually kneel before the bishop and receive the laying on of hands and hear the prayer for them as they were made deacons. It was moving, as it always is.
The new deacons are vested in their diaconal stoles, and given Bibles as “a sign of the authority to proclaim God’s Word and to assist in the ministration of his holy Sacraments.”
But then they stood facing the congregation, finally, and everyone in the cathedral burst into applause. It’s always like this, The response is always enthusiastic, always joyous and it goes on for a long time. The exchange of peace was about as long as St Alban’s – which, as you know, can take a while!
Then we settled down for the Eucharistic prayer, and for Communion, served by the new deacons.
Finally there was the taking of MANY pictures, (only a few of which are available yet) and a beautiful reception – Yes, we all drove home in the dark and in pouring rain. Yes, we are all tired. and Yes, it was worth it!
From St Alban’s we had presenters: Mother Cathy, Father Larry Lewis, and Paula Shepard (who is also on the Diocesan Commission of Ministry)
But see how many others were there to encourage and support Ryan and Anna – Ruth Lewis, Janet Wray, Louise Ritter, Becca Cox, Sandy Sherry, Jean Vincent, Rocky and Lexi Walker (and of course RB and Lindsey!), Stephen and Rachel Grainger with Will and Amelia, and another young couple from SBU!