The events of the Annual Conference session ended in celebration on Saturday afternoon with the 2022 Service of Ordination and Commissioning as New England welcomed its newest class of clergy — four full elders, a provisional deacon, and two provisional elders. The service also welcomed Rev. Kai Chur into full membership from another denomination.
In his sermon, Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar, preaching on Ezekiel 33: 1-9 and John 10: 1-16, called on clergy to understand what it means to "Take thou authority."
Telling the story of a pastor who insisted on being called “reverend,” the bishop said:
“Our titles do not grant us any authority. God gives the authority for ministry through the actions of the church. We gain authority in the eyes of those we serve by how we
function as servants of Jesus Christ.”
The scripture passages he selected offer two other possible titles for clergy: Sentry and Shepherd.
The bishop defined the roles this way:
The task of the sentry is to be alert and to warn people of what is coming: opportunities, dangers, and consequences. This is prophetic work, keeping watch over what is and looking out for what is coming.
The task of shepherd is to keep the sheep together, to care for their security, renewal, and nourishment.
“It is a delicate balance to be both sentry and shepherd, the bishop said, “but both roles are required.” Being either one without the other, he said, “is to fall short of the ministry that has been entrusted to us.”
“If people are destroyed because of the sentry's failure to warn the people or failure to preach the word of God in all seasons with hope of salvation, the sentry is accountable for that failure,” Bishop Devadhar said. “In other words, we are responsible for the prophetic voice. If we fail to call our people to justice, righteousness, and mercy, we are held responsible for their sin.”
“… when we go into our churches as shepherds, we are called to work together in unity with the laity who are also ministers of the gospel,” he said, “In truly caring for the flock to which we are appointed, we gently prepare them for ministry in the world. … as shepherds who empower and equip the laity for the ministries to which they are called.”
Bishop Devadhar recounted the story of Dr. Coffin’s response when he was asked how he deals with those who are upset by the stands he takes in his prophetic sermons. Dr. Coffin said, he offered to take them out for coffee and a talk.
"When you are truly pastoral,” Dr. Coffin purportedly said, “you can be prophetic as well.”
“May we always respond as a shepherd and a sentry — performing the ministry of servanthood, whether washing one another's feet with humility, caring, and love, or confronting evil and injustice in whatever forms they present themselves,” the bishop said.
2022 CLERGY CLASS Ordained as elders
Sara Taylor Garrard
Jennifer Larson Mihok
Adam Paul Randazzo
Welcomed from another denomination
Rev. Kai Chur
Commissioned as a deacon
Sarah Brooks Laflamme
Commissioned as elders
Lisa Marie McColgan