Comings and Goings is a blog written by Theology, Worship and Education Director Charles B. "Chip" Hardwick as he travels throughout the church. God is on the move out and about in the world, working to redeem all things in Jesus Christ. As we join this mission, by the power of the Spirit we see God on the move. This blog contains glimpses of how Chip finds this to be true in his comings and goings.
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Last week while I was traveling in Asia I had the opportunity to do ministry at Union Church in Hong Kong. One unique opportunity I had while there was to moderate the ordination panel for a recent seminary graduate who is serving at the church. Since he is a member of a non-denominational congregation, Union Church wanted him to experience some kind of ordination exam similar to what Presbyterians undergo.
There were eight of us on the panel—a number with doctorates, some professors, a Methodist bishop, and some local pastors. Dozens of members of the congregation watched as the candidate ably and faithfully answered our questions.
The candidate had prepared statements of faith, of his spiritual journey, and of his philosophy of ministry. Because of the composition of the panel, I was expecting most of the questions to be about his statement of faith. However, nearly all of the questions revolved around his call to ministry.
Largely, the questions (which had not been coordinated ahead of time among the panelists) centered around three matters: pastors’ need to rely on Christ daily, to demonstrate servant leadership shared with their congregation, and to love the world and the church. The questions called me to re-examine the extent to which I live out my call in this largely administrative position at the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Perhaps they will help you consider your call, or the call of your pastor. (Pictured from left, me, Steve Gaultney (Panel Member), Greg Anderson (pastor of Union Church), and Matthew Fredericks (ordinand).)
Thankfully, I had a great example of a pastor who loves the world and the church looking over my shoulder while there. The youth pastor I had grown up under is the pastor at Union Church, and sharing time with him reminded me of how he helped me to feel loved thirty years before when I was a hesitant ninth-grader. On this trip I was still grieving the loss of a beloved aunt, and he gave me pastoral care almost as soon as I got off the plane.
Loving the world and loving the church was what I experienced both in those conversations, and in the ordination panel. It’s a high calling, but that’s where our daily reliance on Christ comes in, and it’s why we need to share leadership and ministry with our congregations. May the Holy Spirit guide us as we join God’s mission to transform the world through Christ’s love!