On one of February’s hottest days, 22 men and women donned their robes at St Andrew’s Cathedral, ready to make a vow to serve the church as Jesus did.
The ordination vows are no light undertaking. “I’ve particularly been thinking through the weight of the promises in how they parallel my marriage vows,” says Nicholas Wood, who serves at The Bridge Church. “Lifelong promises of faithfulness. They’re huge! I think it’s so important that God’s calling into ministry is confirmed beyond oneself, and being ordained into the church that God used to save me is special.”
Archbishop Kanishka Raffel described the day as a “truly wonderful occasion of solemn joy of celebration and dedication, as we set aside these dear men and women, brothers and sisters who have been well prepared for service of the Lord Jesus and his church.”
A high call to serve
The emphasis of the day was on Jesus’ model of servant leadership. Gary Koo, Bishop of the Western Region, stressed in his sermon the importance of keeping Jesus’ example front of mind and not being tempted to follow the world's method of leading.
“When it comes to [Jesus’] type of leadership, Christian leadership, things such as status and privilege, power and authority, rank and seniority – they’re not at the centre,” Bishop Koo said. “Christian leadership is about being a servant, putting others first and being a slave of all… That’s what it means for Jesus to be our king. That’s what it means for Jesus to be a leader. It means willing self sacrifice for the sake of others. It means becoming a servant and a slave of all.”
In praying for the new deacons the Bishop of Wollongong, Peter Hayward, asked the Lord to shape their characters and leadership to be like that of their Saviour.
“May they be modest and humble, and strong and steadfast in observing the discipline of Christ,” Bishop Hayward said. “Let their lives and teachings so reflect your commandments that, through them, many may come to know you and love you. As your son came not to be served but to serve, may these deacons share in his service and come to [your] unending glory.”
Serving the saints, the sick and saving the lost
For the Rev Sarah Kinstead, ordination has been a long time coming. She first put her name forward 16 years ago, but life's many twists and turns meant it had to wait until now. She serves with Anglicare as the co-ordinator of chaplaincy for the Illawarra Shoalhaven District, which covers eight public hospitals and a team of volunteers.
“I’m thankful for God’s perfect timing as I step into this charge, which I believe goes hand in hand with the chaplaincy role,” she said. “It feels poignant that the ceremony [was] conducted at St Andrew’s Cathedral because this was the first place I went to church in Australia as a backpacker from the UK in the year 1999.”
An assistant minister at St John’s, Parramatta, the Rev Jaison Jacob, was thankful to have friends and family present. “They are some very big promises that I’m making and I know that without God’s help, I have no chance of keeping them,” he said. “It means the world to have my family, friends and my church family there to support me.”
Mr Jacob will continue pastoring the youth and 5pm congregation at St John’s, as well as helping the whole church reach the local community with the gospel.
The Rev Brian Barker from Grove Church in Hurstville Grove agreed that “ministry is absolutely an act of partnership… There’s no such thing as a lone-wolf Christian or minister, so I’m incredibly thankful for the partnership and support I’ve been blessed with in my family – especially in my wife Michelle – and with our church”.
It was this realisation that led Mr Barker to step up to be ordained. “I’m not just one guy on my own serving Jesus,” he said. “I’m taking my place among the multitude who have gone before and who will come after me. This is also an opportunity to be set apart for a lifetime of serving God, and to declare that I want to stand with many others for the truth of the gospel as revealed in God’s word.”
New canon of the Cathedral
On the same day as the deacons made their promises, the international director of the Church Missionary Society Australia, the Rev Peter Sholl, was made an honorary canon of the Cathedral. Canon Sholl spent 14 years as a missionary in Mexico, where he served as the international director of MOCLAM (Moore College in Latin America), overseeing the provision of Moore College’s distance education program throughout the Spanish-speaking world.
The Dean of the Cathedral, Sandy Grant, said the appointment of an honorary canon was “an expression of the affection and esteem by which the recipient is held by his peers and the diocesan family, and is conferred to affirm the holder as a respected representative of the Diocese in the wider national and global communion”.
Said Canon Sholl: “It’s a great honour to be made an honorary canon of the Cathedral, and I look forward to the opportunities it gives me as I travel around the world with CMS Australia”.