Another step toward ordination: Commissioning
As some of you are aware, I am in process toward ordination as a deacon in the United Methodist Church. This has been a long and complex process, at times life-giving and at times crushingly bureaucratic.
At this time, I am stepping from the second phase (active candidacy) into the third phase (probationary clergy). Each step along the way has been life-changing in its own ways, but this one is perhaps the largest, at least so far. The step I am about to take is this:
I will (probably) be commissioned as a provisional deacon on Saturday, June 19th.
The “probably” caveat refers to the fact that this decision is still subject to a final vote by the clergy session at the annual conference, which takes place on June 17th. It is very rare—but does in fact happen—that the clergy session votes “no” when the previous committees, who do a much more thorough job of interviewing/vetting us, have given their approval. So, for all intents and purposes, I am planning on being commissioned weekend after next, while still holding the very real, if unlikely, possibility that I will not be.
Commissioning is a sort of trial, or probationary, ordination. We are not “ordained in full connection” but we do receive the rights and responsibilities of clergy. I will experience the identity shift to “Reverend Katie,” I will be appointed to a church as their deacon, and I will be authorized to perform weddings and funerals. I, and the other commissioning candidates, will spend the next 2 or 3 years in preparation for full ordination, as one final discernment time for us and for the conference to make absolutely sure ordination is right for us.
For folks in the area who are interested, the Commissioning and Ordination Service, which is part of Annual Conference and is open to the public, takes place in the Field House at the University of Puget Sound, at 7:30pm on June 19th. A reception is held afterward to celebrate with those who are commissioned and ordained.