Laying-On of Hands

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Postby mlovell » Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:28 pm

Our church ordination service now includes all those members who wish to lay hands on the person being ordained -- the thought being that it's the church which ordains, not just those already ordained. (It wasn't always that way, of course.) The same is true for the San Antonio church where my nephew was ordained a few years back.

I know that members feel much more a part of the ordination process, more "knitted together" with the one being ordained, than they did when their entire involvement was raising a hand to vote to do it.
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Postby mlovell » Thu Aug 12, 2004 5:40 pm

To be clear -- I wasn't speaking solely of deacons (Chris wasn't, either). We ordained our Minister of Missions and Ministry with the whole church participating. I prefer that because of the symbolism, too. :)
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Postby Eric » Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:11 pm

When I was ordained (ABC) I was given the option of how I would be "handled." I chose the full-church option because I think it better reflects Baptist theology.
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Laying on of hands

Postby Ed Pettibone » Thu Aug 12, 2004 6:16 pm

Chris, In the dozen or so ordinations that I have observed, there has been four procedural orders for the laying on of hands. 1. The ordained staff and active deacons of the host church 2. All ordained persons present, Both those ordained as ministers and deacons 3. Staff & Members of the host church and guest who are members of a church of like faith and order. 4. All present who chose to participate.

#'s 3 & 4 can get to be a looooong process. For that reason # 2 is my preference both as a participant and as an observer. Although I have been ordained as a deacon Even when invited I do not participate in the laying on of hands except when I personaly know the person being ordained.

When Trudy was ordained to the ministry all present where invited to lay hands on both of us. Had I been warned ahead of time I would have insisted that she as the one being ordained should be the only one upon whom hands were laid. On that occasion it was the pastor of the chuch where we were members who set the order, when he was ordaind the congregation had laid hands on both he and his wife and he has adopted that process in ordaing ministers. Interestingly until recently that church in accord with many ABC churches did not ordain deacons.
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Postby Eric » Thu Aug 12, 2004 8:45 pm

Ed, do I infer correctly that when everyone laid hands, each did so individually and spoke personal words of encouragement, etc.? I can see how that was extremely lengthy.

In my case, everyone formed--for lack of a better word--a "mob" in the middle of the sanctuary around me while the pastor voiced a prayer. That, I thought, maintained the corporate element well.
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Postby Ed Pettibone » Thu Aug 12, 2004 9:02 pm

Yes Eric, your inference is correct "when everyone laid hands, each did so individually and spoke personal words of encouragement." I could have appriciated the opportunity to stand in a reception line much more. My arthritic knees do not tolerate kneeling for very long.
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Postby mlovell » Thu Aug 12, 2004 10:34 pm

Eric: Ed, do I infer correctly that when everyone laid hands, each did so individually and spoke personal words of encouragement, etc.? I can see how that was extremely lengthy.


That's how we do it -- though very few speak lengthy words of encouragement. You might compare it (inadequate simile, of course) to a much-more-spiritual standing in line at a wedding reception where people who love you want to share with you the joy of that unique occasion. It does take some time, but it seems to be worthwhile both for those ordained and those laying on hands. Our ordination services are just that -- entirely devoted to ordination (music and brief pastoral message, of course). And those being ordained are seated, each in a chair with his/her spouse standing behind that person.

And Ed, I'd agree that (1) they shouldn't have surprised you, and (2) kneeling on arthritic knees can be painful. OTOH, it seems to me to be one of those experiences which is part and parcel of being married. I vividly recall standing on the tarmac for more than an hour in Arkansas in July, in formation with ranking military men of that base and their wives, waiting to greet a chief of staff and his wife from another country. We women were, of course, wearing heels, which in the heat were beginning to sink slowly into the runway surface. I saw no need for me to be there, either. Given an opportunity, I'd have insisted Bill be the only one of us "honored" on that occasion. :D
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Postby mlovell » Thu Aug 12, 2004 10:36 pm

Timothy -- I like that! We did a group laying on of hands like that for our Minister of Youth and CE when she made a mission trip to Tailand.


We do this also, when groups or individuals are headed out for a short-term mission trip. I see this as asking a blessing on them and the work they'll be doing, but not as a lifetime ordination.
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Postby mlovell » Thu Aug 12, 2004 10:48 pm

Timothy -- Actually, it is pretty tough to prove the existance of life-time ordination in the New Testament.

Acts 13:1-3 sounds "lifetime" to me. At least, there's no record of either Barnabas or Saul leaving "the work" -- though they did change churches and tasks from time to time. Same with Acts 7:5-6 -- which appears to have been a "lifetime" ordaining of Stephen.

Although I cheerfully concede that it's quite probable the early church wasn't nearly as structured (nor as stultified) as the church today, that they were doing "a new thing," taking a step down a new road they couldn't see the end of -- and who knows whether the church thought of it as "just waiting tables" or "just for this one trip"? We only know that Barnabas and Saul were "set apart for the work to which God called them" -- we don't know that either of them or the church fully understood what that work would be. (I'm pretty sure that when my Dad was ordained to the ministry, neither he nor the ordaining church suspected he'd wind up serving God in a leadership position at a Baptist college.) :)
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Postby mlovell » Fri Aug 13, 2004 12:43 am

ml -- Although I cheerfully concede that it's quite probable the early church wasn't nearly as structured (nor as stultified) as the church today, that they were doing "a new thing," taking a step down a new road they couldn't see the end of -- and who knows whether the church thought of it as "just waiting tables" or "just for this one trip"? We only know that Barnabas and Saul were "set apart for the work to which God called them" -- we don't know that either of them or the church fully understood what that work would be.


Timothy -- Personal opinion, I see that as an argument from silence. Nothing in the text indicates if the church intended the laying on of hands for a life-time or just that one mission trip.

Yep, I think I already agreed with that -- more or less. Seems to me that either view (life-time or one trip) would be an argument from silence :) -- but that the record of the lives of Barnabas and Saul tilts the scale toward understanding it as a permanent setting apart.

I wonder if the church had actually thought that out (I doubt it) -- or if it was just taking things one step at a time, as the opportunity presented itself and the Lord directed. It's not as if they had centuries of tradition to guide them. Given that it was a Baptist church (it was, wasn't it?) :D , I think it's quite likely that the members would have had different opinions about the precise meaning of their actions.
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Ordination

Postby Howard » Fri Aug 13, 2004 9:22 pm

Howard: Our church has, at least at times, invited evryone in the congregation, who wants to, to participate in the laying on of hands in the ordination service.

About ordination as a NT practice - I have a hard time tying ordination to NT teachings. I personally think what we do as ordination is more socially and culturally founded that NT founded. And, yes, I know about the laying on of hands in the NT. Over time having been ordained has also acquired some legal standing.

But ordination does not set one above any other Christian as far as I can tell. - Which may be another discussion.
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