Approximately 2000 United Methodists are in Greenville, South Carolina, for our Annual Conference gathering this week. At 7:30 tonight we will celebrate ministry, including commissioning and ordaining deacons and elders. You can watch via livestream by going to: http://www.umcsc.org/home/resources/2017-annual-conference/.
Deacons and elders are two categories of ordained clergy. At Central, we're blessed to have both. Rev. Meg Bryce Jiunnies is being commissioned tonight as a deacon. Rev. J. Derrick Cattenhead is being ordained an elder. There are some distinctions to their roles. Deacons assist with, but do not preside over sacraments. Elders assist with connecting churches to the needs of the community, but deacons are charged to give particular leadership there. Elders often take the lead on administering the church, while deacons often take the lead on educational ministries.
Over 20 years ago now, the United Methodist Church decided that being a deacon is not a stepping stone to being an elder. They are distinct enough roles as to be ends unto themselves.
The roles may be distinct, but the ministry must be cooperative. The same goes for laity and clergy. And, all of us are meant to cooperate with the Holy Spirit to make faithful ministry possible.
Pentecost (Acts 2) didn't happen so that we'd have a story about what happened to those first Christians back then. Pentecost happens because the Spirit continues to be active among us, gifting each of us, as the Spirit chooses, for the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7).
Let us, under the Spirit's guidance and utilizing the Spirit's gifts, continue to cooperate in ministry for the common good. And, let's give thanks for those called to lead us in particular ways, including Derrick and Meg.