It’s the tenth anniversary of my ordination to ministry in the United Church of Christ.
The service took place at Woodfords Congregational Church UCC here in Portland. The service is less of a blur that I expected, as I look back on it.
I remember the wonderful sermon by my friend and mentor, Paul Shupe, and the surprise on my dearly beloved retired pastor’s face when he realized I had changed my name (no worries, it’s back now where it belongs).
I remember the smooth re-supply of Communion bread by my old friend, Nelson Toner, one of the Deacons that day.
I remember that a pick-up choir sang music I chose, as a celebration of our many years singing together in that sanctuary, especially a shape note setting of Ten Thousand Charms. “I will ri-i-ise and go to Jesus,” they sang, and so I did.
“He’ll embrace me in his a-a-a-arms.” And so he does, each day, thankfully.
I remember that when the clergy came forward for the laying on of hands, Gladys York, an elderly clergywoman who had arrived late, came all the way down the long aisle, hair braided on top of her head, dressed not in a robe and stole but in a sensible cardigan. I preach from her longtime pulpit now; it’s a privilege. Years later my younger son recalled that moment as having the gravity of an Entmoot.
I remember the friends who made the reception happen, and the care Kathy Helming took in making sure the bulletin was just right.
I think fondly and wistfully of Kathy MacGregor and Marion Hack and others there that day no longer with us.
But most of all I remember that when it was time for Communion, the first people to come forward were these three precious children.
I’m grateful for ten years of ministry, for the five churches that have allowed me to love them, for the many times I’ve broken the bread and raised the cup and spoken the words, for the spectacular thrill of baptizing dear ones of all ages, and for the chance to share the Good News week in and week out.
It’s not clear what the next part of the work journey holds for me, but I thank God for this decade, whatever may come.