Sunday, February 12, 2006

Ordination Interviews: Wrap-up

Thank you so much for all of your warm responses and prayers during my ordination interviews last week. I was surprised at just how much the interviewing process drained me of energy for the few days afterward. I felt like I could sleep for a couple days straight. I guess I didn’t realize exactly how much stress/anxiety about the interviews I had been carrying with me in the corner of my mind. When I think about it, I realize that I’ve been in the candidacy process 9 years now, beginning with The Christian as Minister, so that is a third of my life in the process! I guess it’s only natural to react to how much I’d invested in the outcome of interview day!

I do want to share with you a little bit about the process. In my conference, North Central New York, candidates go through 4 sections of interviews: Sacraments, Practice of Ministry, Call to Ministry, and Theology. We had two sections of each, A and B (the “B teams” from the Board kept joking all day that “B” didn’t mean second-string!) so that more candidates could be interviewed simultaneously, moving from section to section without break.

I met first with Sacraments. Three years ago, during commissioning interviews, this was the section I felt most uncomfortable with – just not clicking with the questions, not thrilled with my response. This time, Sacraments was probably where I felt at my best (a good way to start the day!) Maybe this is because administering the sacraments has (for me, at least) such a huge impact on how I understand and experience them. Example: The first time I shared baptism with my congregation, I could barely get through the liturgy, I was so teary, so moved. Baptism binds you forever to the person you baptize – realizing this helped me to communicate better how baptism binds us together as the body of Christ when we share in it as a community.

The Practice of Ministry was my hardest this time around. The questions seemed vague to me, instead of very specific to my experience. The questions in this section focus on growth and experience as a probationer – what’s changed in three years of pastoral ministry? What’s significant about practicing ministry? Some open-ended questions resulted in me struggling for words. But I hung in there!

Call to Ministry focused on sharing my story so far, something I’m very comfortable doing – something I’ve had to do over and over in so many situations, that it comes very easily to me. I’m sure those of you who are candidates in the process know what I mean. I was also asked there about the meaning of ordination – something I’ve struggled with and finally come to a more complete (not fully, though) understanding of – thanks especially to Bishop Willimon’s: Pastor: A Theology of Ordained Ministry.

The last section was Theology. This was a fun section, actually – questions about my blog(!) and the theology of blogging, questions about the theology of paperwork, questions about books I’ve read and not liked, and some scenario questions: what would you do if . . .

Then the waiting, waiting, waiting – the hardest part. But we waited less time than three years ago at commissioning. I got called into a little room with three Board members, including, in my group, the chair of the Board, who said, “I have one more question for you.” (Eek, my tired mind thought.) “What does gospel mean?” I said, “good news.” And she said, “That’s right. It’s good news!”

Congrats also to Laura, who I met at the GBCS Young Adult Clergy forum, who just found out she was recommended for ordination in her conference. And to those of you who’ve mentioned upcoming interviews, please do remind me when it’s your turn, so I can support you too!

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