I was almost positive they were going to, but it feels grrrreat to have the paperwork signed off. They filled out their Report and Recommendation, which we all signed. I filled out my Application to be Received as a Candidate for the Order of Ministry, and attached the required "1,500 word" narrative of my faith journey (which ended up being 2,226 words - oops), and resumè. Those documents now go to my church council (aka session) And here is how things go from here (copied from the Process booklet):
Concluding the Discernment Process
1. The session receives the discernment committee’s recommendations and the inquirer’s application and makes a decision.
2. The session completes CAN 203: Action by Session and Presbytery/District Regarding Inquirers, page 1, and sends it with the original of DIS 202(a) and the application CAN 202(b) to the Presbytery/District E&S Committee.
Presbytery/District Education and Students Committee
1. If the inquirer is applying for candidacy for ordered ministry, the Presbytery/District E&S Committee completes CAN 203, page 2 top, and sends it to the Conference Interview Board (CIB) with DIS 202(a) and the application from the inquirer.
2. The CIB meets with the inquirer. Following the interview, the CIB fills out CAN 203, page 2 bottom, and returns it to the E&S Committee with the CIB’s recommendation.
3. The E&S Committee interviews the inquirer and makes its recommendation to the presbytery/district regarding candidacy.
4. Two members of the E&S Committee sign CAN 203, page 3, “Police Records Check.”
5. Then they send CAN 203, DIS 202(a), and CAN 202(b) to the presbytery/district secretary.
6. The E&S Committee also makes recommendations on educational programs using CAN 204: Initial Certification to School or Program.
7. The presbytery/district secretary completes and signs CAN 203 (page 3) and distributes it as indicated on that page.
Yup...bureacracy is alive and kicking in the church just as it is in government! But the end is nigh, and much of the remaining steps happen in the background from my perspective. I just need to show up for the interviews and wait for paperwork to be completed by the various parties involved. Not to downplay it all, am sure the interviews will be stressful, as interviews tend to be! But hopefully they will go well, and everyone concerned will agree I am called to ordained ministry. :) And in the meantime, I am applying to the Atlantic School of Theology to be accepted into their Master of Divinity program starting in September.
We closed tonight's meeting, our last as a Discernment Committee, with the following prayer...which I wrote straight out of my head in a couple minutes before heading out the door to the meeting. I wrote it in advance because I knew I would be expected to do the closing prayer, and am not yet comfortable doing so spontaneously. Not sure why I still feel awkward about sharing my prayer straight from heart to lips, fear of being mocked, I suppose. (Say grace, anyone?) And yet if I write the words of my heart down, even in an unedited stream of consciousness kind of way, I can share them without hesitation. Very strange. I don't doubt that one day prayers will roll off my tongue as comfortably as they roll out of my fingertips...I just need to practice cutting out the written step and trusting that God will put spontaneous words in my mouth. But I digress...here is the prayer with which I closed off our discernment period...
Dear God, we give thanks for your wisdom and guidance this past year, as we discerned together your call. When we listen for your voice, we are able to find our own voice and find the strength and courage to sing our song of faith for the whole world to hear.
It is with deep joy and blessedness that we feel your Spirit moving among us. We have gathered as people of the light, seeking to know your will, to understand how we can shine our own light in this glorious yet often broken world of ours. I personally give thanks for the people around this table [names edited out for privacy] who have given so generously of their time and thoughtfulness to help me discern where you are calling me. We go out now, empowered by our relationship with you, O Holy One, and by our relationship with Jesus. In following his example, we are strengthened and enlightened to embrace our own divinity and step out in risk in order to serve others. We journey with a sense of hope, of surprise, of expectation that we can make a difference.
As we all move forward from this time of formal discernment, I pray that we will continue to hold within our hearts the sense of wonder, and of possibility, that we have found here together. And continue always to answer your call to an abundant, extravagant, astonishing life beyond our imagination! In Jesus name, we pray. Amen
And then I broke into spontaneous song (one of my fave hymns from Voices United):
♫ ♪ ♫ I'm gonna live so (live so) God can use me
Anywhere Lord, anytime (anytime)
I'm gonna live so (live so) God can use me
Anywhere my Lord, anytime!!! ♪ ♫ ♫