Saturday, February 20, 2010

Emily's Ordination at Eastwood

Possibly the dearest mother-daughter duo of my sisters in Christ at Eastwood Christian Church (Disciples) are Margaret Nourse and her daughter Emily. For a bit of background about them, see my post of 26 December A.D. 2009.

Well, unbeknownst to me at the time (or, I may have heard it mentioned & it just didn't register) is that in addition to being an alumna (undergrad) of TCU as I am of TCU's seminary Brite, Emily is also an alumna of Vanderbilt's seminary, and eligible for ordination in the Christian Church(Disciples of Christ). Her ordination service took place at Eastwood this afternoon. The weather was so beautiful that I almost wish the service had been outdoors!

The choir rehearsed its anthem for the service, "Lord Here Am I", in our practice room in the ECC education building, then walked over to the sanctuary and donned our robes. This powerful piece, which crescendos into a grand finale, almost had me in tears, and DID have Dieta Duncan (mother of choir members Josh and Jonathan) in tears. Then we left the chancel, disrobed and took seats in the nave (auditorium). I chose to sit fairly forward on the left (pulpit) side.

Amy Cates, who attended Vanderbilt Divinity School with Emily, preached the ordination sermon. She commenced by relating how the Nourses had earlier lived in the Texas coastal city of Corpus Christi but that Emily in answering God's call had to move inland and go to TCU -- at which point she made the TCU hand sign, which is the right hand with index and middle fingers crooked like claws. To which I automatically responded in like manner -- even tho' that sign got created AFTER my years at TCU's Brite!

Representatives of several groups spoke confirmations of Emily's ordination and/or gave her gifts. There were about five from the Nourse's former church in Corpus, Central Christian (Disciples). Others represented our Eastwood church family as well as the Serenity Sisters Sunday School class -- for which Emily recruited participants! -- and the regional church (Christian Church (DC) in Tennessee). Among the gifts presented during the service were a black academic robe, a very colorful stole and a copy of the Chalice Hymnal of the CC(DC).

At the laying on of hands Regional Minister Glenn Stewart first called for the congregation's Elders, then all ordained persons to step forward. While two placed their hands directly on the kneeling Emily, we others put one hand on the shoulder of the person standing beside us. Also, Dr. Stewart called on the laity left in the pews (and we had a good-size crowd!) to hold hands and for the nearest of us Elders-ordained to take the hand of the nearest. For me this meant Michael Lehman, our Associate Pastor and recent graduate of the Vandy D School; he's next in line to be ordained in Eastwood.

This move by Dr. Stewart really impressed me, because it symbolically involved everybody present in the laying on of hands! Indeed, as I experienced all of the ordination service I kept thinking forward to Michael's ordination service (as surely he was, too) and back to my own service in February A.D. 1989 in the United church of Moscow, in Moscow, Idaho. Mine was quite different in details even if similar in the basic outline. But I'd have loved to have gone back and included that anthem "Lord Here Am I" along with Gold City's recent Southern Gospel hit "Preach the Word". And especially I'd have wanted that means that Dr. Stewart provided of involving everybody in the laying on of hands!

I wouldn't change the gifts, tho'. No robe or stole were given me, since at the time a smaller percentage of Disciples clergy used those "high-church" vestments -- most wore suits and ties. And I've continued to uphold the original Restoration Movement's tenet of not making much distinction or separation of church people into laity and clergy. I eschew the title "Reverend" and consider myself to be no more or less "reverend" than ANY disciple of Jesus. Neither did I receive a hymnal, which I would not have minded at all, especially considering how my love of music, always strong, has grown over the years. What I DO remember receiving at my ordination was a Jerusalem Bible.

Well, that's plenty of THAT aside. After the Lord's Supper, at which Emily presided, and a closing song we adjourned to go to the fellowship hall for the reception. As the crowd moved out I was surprised to see Rusty Lawrence, director of Urban Housing Solutions (offices in Mercury Courts, one of the UHS properties)! And I gave a hearty welcome to all the Texans from Central Christian in Corpus.

As I mentioned earlier, we had a good attendance for this Saturday afternoon worship and ordination service. This was evidenced among other ways, in that at least a dozen of the men sported neckties. But when all these folks got into the fellowship hall, it was almost too small! There did appear to be sufficient food for everybody, fortunately. After several photos were taken of Emily alone or with various groupings, I suggested to her that we ought to get a group photo of all those present who had gone to TCU or Vandy D School or another Disciples-related institution. She considered it a good idea, and so had me get the attention of the crowd and call for this photo to be taken. It's now on my Facebook photo album, and I cropped it to be my current FB profile shot.

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