On one of the hottest days of February, a congregation of more than 700 gathered to support ordination candidates as they made the final official step to ordained ministry.

Twenty-three men and women lined across St Andrew’s Cathedral and, in a first, in the front row was guide dog, Trixie, who accompanies the Rev Nicole Tillotson in her work as Anglicare chaplain at Elizabeth Lodge. Miss Tillotson is visually impaired and has only had Trixie for a few months, but was pleased her dog kept calmly guiding her, even amid the singing and bustle of the big day. 

Above: Ordinands gather for prayer before the service

The traditional service, along with ordination robes, is a formal culmination of many years of study and training, all supported by family and friends. The candidates make promises of faithfulness in teaching, life and service before the Archbishop, and Sydney bishops place their hands on the head of each ordinand in a sign that they now have authority for ministry.

Above: The Archbishop and Bishops laying on of hands.

The promises being made were very much in the mind of the 23 ordinands. 
“These are solemn promises,” said Osmond Wong, assistant minister at Georges Hall. “I’m definitely humbled yet somewhat energised to serve God’s people at the same time.” 

For Merrylands minister, Josh Donohoo, it was also “a great encouragement to hear a representative from the Diocese stand up and answer the Archbishop, saying, ‘I have enquired concerning them, and I have examined them. I believe them to be fit for this office’.” 

There is also special encouragement from his family. “It means a lot for me to have my grandfather there, who was ordained a deacon something like 60 years ago. I know that he prays for me, and for my family, as we enter into ministry. The other week he showed me the New Testament that he was given at his ordination, in which he had written notes from the sermon. I hope to still be wielding my New Testament after decades of ministry, too.”

For Belinda Burn, chaplain for the Office of the Director of Safe Ministry, it was also a family affair as her son-in-law, Grant van der Merwe, was ordained on the same day for ministry at Vine Church in Surry Hills. 
“I never could have imagined I’d end up ordained for a whole lot of reasons,” she said. “I didn’t grow up in a Christian family and, when I became a Christian as a teenager, my parents told me that it was a phase I’d grow out of… my dad tried to convert me to Communism! I’m pretty sure none of my friends would have expected I’d become a Christian, much less an ordained minister.”

Above: the Rev Grant van der Merwe and his mother-in-law, the Rev Belinda Burn

Ms Burn's road to this day was long. “My husband and I were both working full-time and raising our five children, so it took me 9½ years to finish my BTh [degree] – I didn’t graduate until I was 48.” But she says the support of family was crucial. “They know better than anyone – except God – my weaknesses and sinful inclinations, and so to have their blessing in being ordained is humbling, and motivating. I have one friend here today who led me to Christ and she is still the most incredible role model almost 40 years later."

Jonathan Adams was very much at home in the Cathedral, as he is an assistant minister at St Andrew's. On the day, he was particularly grateful for the crowd of faithful men and women who have been part of his journey to ordination.
“I’ve always enjoyed the mutual encouragement that comes from being united with others through a common faith in the Lord Jesus,” he said. “I believe it’s important for the contributions of other believers to the lives of the ordinands to be recognised and celebrated as important ways by which God equips ministers of the gospel.”

… by being a child of God and servant of others in my daily and weekly relationships 

Tim Young, appointed assistant minister at Minchinbury, also said he was “honoured to make these promises before God and family. So amazed at how many people also want to come and support me as I promise to serve Christ and his people in full-time ordained ministry. I'm really looking forward to learning about ministry in the west and serving Christ there. Lots of culture, which we love, and the team is so experienced and supportive”.

You can watch a replay of the service on the cathedral’s youtube channel.

Stephanie Adams, assistant minister at Panania, is excited about the challenges ahead. 

“I'm looking forward to helping people to love Jesus, and to learn from the Bible. In God's kindness I hope to do that significantly through modelling and equipping leaders of children in our parish, but also just by being a child of God and servant of others in my daily and weekly relationships.”