Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada Revised August 2000
9260 Alcosta Blvd, C-22
San Ramon CA 94583
(925) 556-9900
(925) 556-9904 Fax

Model Ordination Service &

Candidate/Congregational Checklist

For Use by Ordinands in the

Christian Church of Northern California-Nevada

and their sponsoring congregations

Note: This document is also available for downloading on the Region’s website at in the "Resources" section








VI. Appendix -- Theological & Historical Foundations 23

Adapted, in part, from "Ordination Service Guidelines," published by the Council on Christian Unity and Homeland Ministries, 1990, and updated by the General Commission on Ministry, 1999


I. Some Important Things to Keep in Mind

An ordination is not "your" ordination; it is the church’s ordination of you through the work of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the focus of the service is on what the Spirit of God through the church is doing, not on the candidate for ordination. Practically, this means that the ordination service should not be more than 75 minutes long. Moreover, while there may be a number of persons whom you would like to have participate by offering extemporaneous remarks or "testimonies" in the service, it is more appropriate to have these at a reception after the service. (Again, to use an analogy to a traditional wedding service, such "toasts" and testimonials are better said at the reception than during the service!) Ordination services which extend for 2 or even three hours make people resentful!

Per the Regional Church’s "Order of Ministry Policies," a Regional Pastor must see a draft of the ordination service and approve it, along with the approval of your host pastor.

The "theological center" of an ordination is the Laying on of Hands and the Ordaining Prayer. The rest of the service, theologically speaking, builds outward from that. The laying on of hands is officiated by a Regional Pastor. Therefore, you will need to check with the Regional Pastor early in your planning in order to find a date on which the Regional Pastor is available for the service.

While you may plan a tentative date for your service (having checked that date with your host pastor and Regional Pastor), the ordination cannot take place if you fail to finally fulfill all the requirements as specified in the "Order of Ministry Policies" (which are also detailed in the New Student Packet which, if you are an M.Div. student, you will have received at the beginning of your candidacy) as interpreted to you by the Training and Care Committee or Recognition and Standing Committee. (E.g., if you do not in fact meet the requirements for the M.Div. degree prior to your scheduled ordination date, the ordination service will have to be re-scheduled until such time as that requirement is met).

You must check early with your host pastor and sponsoring congregation concerning the details of the ordination service (and reception, if one is being held). There will be costs associated with the ordination (reception costs, guest preacher honorarium, etc.); while it would be gracious of the sponsoring congregation(s) to cover those costs, do not assume that that is the case. Again, early contact and planning with your host pastor and sponsoring congregation is key!

More detailed information will be found in section V, "The Details of the Ordination Service Planning Process"


II. Candidate’s To-Do Checklist

___ Give a copy of this booklet to your host pastor, and any from your sponsoring congregation(s) who will have a part in the planning of the ordination.

___ Make sure that you are aware of and meet in a timely way any requirements that your sponsoring congregation has for its sponsorship of you.

___ Make sure that you are "on top of" the requirements for ordination required by the Training and Care Committee or Recognition and Standing Committee. Pay attention, e.g., to the dates when your ordination paper is due the committee, the materials that you need to have submitted by the time of the ordination interview, and request an ordination interview date with the committee in a timely way.

___ With your host pastor, schedule a tentative date for the ordination service and attend to any details need to reserve the church for that date.

___ Check your tentative date with a Regional Pastor for his/her availability. If your tentative date is not available on their schedule(s), work with the host pastor and Regional Pastor(s) to find a different date.

___ After you have been approved by the Training and Care or Recognition and Standing Committee, work closely with your host pastor on service planning, deciding who will do the contacting of participants, etc., etc.

___ Since the host pastor has responsibility for preaching in the congregation, the candidate consults the host pastor about whom she or he wishes to invite to preach. A former minister of the host church may be asked to preach with the consent of the current pastor, in consultation with officers of the congregation. The host pastor, NOT the candidate, extends the invitation to the selected preacher.

___ Send out your invitations

___ Have the host pastor give final approval to the Order of Service. Who will print the bulletins?

___ Have the Regional Pastor who is working with you give final approval to the Order of Service.

___ Make sure that participants in the service are asked to come to a rehearsal the day of the service, no less than 1 hour ahead of time. Will the host pastor lead that rehearsal?

___ Who is in charge of your reception? What details do they need from you? If you are going to have a time for "toasts and testimonials" during the reception, who is in charge of that?

More detailed information will be found in section V, "The Details of the Ordination Service Planning Process"



The following is a guide to the major responsibilities normally assumed by the congregation

___ Date and Time-- After the candidate has consulted with a regional minister, the congregation is to establish a date and time for the ordination service in consultation with the candidate. All dates and invitations are to be confirmed in writing.

___ Ordination Service Consultation-- As soon as it is feasible, the host pastor and other designated persons in the congregation are to meet with the candidate and review the ordination service and procedures as outlined in this document At this consultation, the plans for the ordination service should begin. Some of the items to be considered are: participants, music, scriptures, reception, worship bulletin, etc. The host pastor and candidate are to review together the persons who are to participate and who shall contact whom. Since it is the congregation hosting the service, in most instances it is appropriate that the host pastor extend invitations to participants.

___ Gifts and/or Signs of the Office of Ministry-- The host pastor in consultation with appropriate persons in the church is to explore the presentation of signs of the office of ministry. If any gifts are to be presented, the presenters are to be selected. The host congregation may invite other sponsoring congregations to share in these acts.

___ Rehearsal-- The host pastor is to schedule and conduct the ordination service rehearsal, with the assistance of the Regional Minister if desired.

___ Worship Bulletin-- The congregation normally prepares the worship bulletin. Information is to be submitted two weeks prior to the service or as the host pastor desires.

___ Seating-- The host pastor is to select ushers and arrange for appropriate seating arrangements, or shall delegate that responsibility to others.

___ Music-- The host pastor is to make sure that music arrangements are complete and fully understood.

___ Communion Service-- The congregation is to make the arrangements for the communion service, giving attention to recommendations for the service contained in this book.

___ Reception-- The congregation plans and provides the reception. The host pastor assists in setting up a reception line, if it is desired.

See detailed information in section V, "Details of the Ordination Service Planning Process"


IV. Model Order of Service

[NOTE: Notes about the service are printed in brackets]


of [NAME]

The Preparation


Hymn of Praise

[Leaders of the service may enter in procession during this hymn]

Call to Worship [or other appropriate and brief call to worship]

Leader: Come, let us worship God. There are different gifts,

People: but it is the same Spirit who gives them.

Leader: There are different ways of serving God,

People: but it is the same God who is served.

Leader: Each one is given a gift by the same Spirit,

People: to use for the common good.

Leader: Together we are the Body of Christ,

People: and individually members with one another.

Opening Prayer

Leader: Holy God, you give the church varied gifts and ministries and call forth men and women to receive and fulfill them. Open us to the power of your Holy Spirit s we gather to offer you our thankful praise. Be present with us, we pray, as we ordain our sister/brother to your service. All these things we ask in the name of our Savior Jesus Christ. Amen

The Service of the Word

Welcome Statement about the Service

[The host pastor welcomes all those present and states that the church has gathered to ordain (Full Name) to Christian Ministry. The pastor may wish to give a very brief word about the nature of ordination. Representatives of the sponsoring congregation(s), the region(s) of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and the ecumenical Church may be acknowledged]

A Reading from the Old Testament and/or the Epistles

Psalm, Hymn, or Anthem

A Reading from the Gospel

The Sermon

Hymn or Anthem

The Presentation of the Candidate

[NOTE: The "Presentation" section is simply the formal commending of the candidate by sponsoring congregation(s) and Region. It is a time when representatives from the congregation(s) and Region "present" the one to be ordained with their approval. Again, there is a certain analogy here with traditional wedding services, in which the question is asked "Who 'presents' this man/woman?" In the ordination service, the answer is not just "We do," but "We do because ... (very briefly)".]


Leader: [Either host pastor or Regional Pastor]

Ordination to Christian ministry is preceded by study, work, and prayer, guided by the Spirit of God. I now call on representatives of the sponsoring congregation(s) and of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in (region) to present (Full Name) and to offer their witnesses to his/her readiness for ordination.

Presentation by a Representative(s) of the Sponsoring Congregation(s)

[The person to be ordained is presented by name to the presiding/host minister and a few sentences testifying to the candidate’s life in the church may be offered.]

Presentation by a Representative(s) of the Region(s)

[A representative of the region -- usually a member of the Training and Care Committee or Recognition and Standing Committee -- states that the person to be ordained has been nurtured through a process of preparation, has been examined concerning the Christian faith and manner of life, and has been approved for ordination]

The Ordination Covenant

[NOTE: In the worship bulletin, you may print all of the following covenant or simply print the portion that the people will say. The Regional Pastor will have the Ordination Covenant with him/her so that printing it in the bulletin, while helpful to the congregation, is not strictly required]

The Promises of the Candidate for Ordination

Regional Pastor:

My sister/brother in the faith, do you believe that you are truly called by God and the Church to the life and work of ministry in the name of Jesus Christ?

I do.

Paul the apostle testified, "It is no longer I who live but Christ who lives in me." Will you endeavor to be diligent in your practice of the Christian life: reading the Bible, continuing steadfastly in prayer, and taking up your cross daily to follow Christ?

I will, with the help of God.

Scripture teaches that the Church was devoted to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Will you endeavor faithfully to fulfill your calling among the people committed to your care: by preaching the word of God and the apostolic faith; and by presiding at the celebration of baptism and the Lord’s Supper?

I will, with the help of God.

In scripture, ministers are exhorted to tend the flock of God committed to their care, not by constraint but willingly, not for selfish gain but eagerly, not by domineering over those in their charge but by example. Will you endeavor to care for the people of God: nourishing, teaching, and encouraging them; giving direction to the life of the congregation; counseling the troubled; declaring God’s forgiveness of sin; and proclaiming victory over death?

I will, with the help of God.

The Spirit of God led Jesus to preach good news to the poor, proclaiming release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, setting at liberty the oppressed, and proclaiming the time of God’s good favor. Will you endeavor to lead the people of God in their obedience to the global mission of the Church: guiding their concern for justice, peace, and freedom for all people; and taking a responsible place in the governance of the Church and in service to the world?

I will, with the help, of God.

The apostle Paul proclaims the Church to be one body with many members. Will you endeavor to live and work in unity with all Christians: witnessing to the visible unity of the Church; cooperating with Disciples colleagues in the ministry of the congregational, regional, general and ecumenical church; and leading the Church in fulfilling its ministry of reconciliation?

I will, with the help of God.

Paul also wrote, "For me to live is Christ." Will you endeavor to conduct yourself so that your life is shaped by Jesus Christ, who took the form of a servant for our sake; and will you, with the help of the Holy Spirit, continually rekindle the gift of God that is in you, to make known to all people the gospel of the grace of God?

I will, with the help of God.

May God who has given you the will to do these things give you grace to perform them. (Name), God who called you is faithful and will not fail you.

The Promises of the People [this part DOES need to be printed in the bulletin]

Regional Pastor:

You have heard the promises of our brother/sister. Will you as members of God’s Church affirm this call and accept (Name) as an ordained minister of the Gospel?


(Name), we accept you as one called to public leadership in the Church

and affirm the decision that you be ordained. We pledge our love

and offer our prayers that together we may glorify God

and make Christ known in the world.

The Disciples of Christ Affirmation of Faith from the Preamble to the Design for the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

[Note: The reading of the Affirmation of Faith is optional. The Affirmation can also be found in the Chalice Hymnal or on the Disciples website at]

Regional Minister: Together, let us renew our covenant with Christ.


We confess that Jesus is the Christ,

the Son of the Living God,

and proclaim him Lord and Savior of the world.

In Christ’s name and by his grace,

we accept our mission of witness

and service to all people.

We rejoice in God,

Maker of heaven and earth,

and in the covenant of love

which binds us to God and one another.

Through baptism into Christ

we enter into newness of life

and are made one with the whole people of God.

In the communion of the Holy Spirit

we are joined together in discipleship

and in obedience to Christ.

At the table of the Lord

we celebrate with thanksgiving

the saving acts and presence of Christ.

Within the universal Church

we receive the gift of ministry

and the light of Scripture.

In the bonds of Christian faith

we yield ourselves to God,

that we may serve the One

whose Kingdom has no end.

Blessing, glory and honor

be to God forever.


Prayer for the Candidate

[NOTE: This prayer is optional. But if it is done, note that this is not the actual ordination/ordaining prayer, but is rather a prayer for the candidate, asking God to give her/him the virtues and qualities that will make for faithful and effective ministry]


[A hymn invoking the Holy Spirit is sung]

The Act of Ordination

The Laying On of Hands and Ordaining Prayer Regional Pastor

[The Regional Pastor will explain the laying on of hands while the candidate kneels, facing the congregation, and will then invite the elders of the sponsoring congregation(s), the clergy present, and then all of those present to gather around or link up for the laying on of hands and prayer. The regional minister will then place a hand on the candidate’s head. The regional minister offers the ordaining prayer, either the one below or one of his/her choice.]

[After the ordaining prayer, as the newly ordained stands, the congregation may welcome her/him with applause.]

Presentation of the Signs of the Office

[NOTE: It is not required that each "sign" be offered. This is not an occasion for the presenters to give "testimonials" to or about the ordinand. The Signing of the Code of Ethics (if done) and the Presentation of the Ordination Certificate need to be the last signs offered]

A Bible is given to the newly ordained with this charge:

So live that the Word is near you, on your lips, and in your heart.

A robe/alb may be given, with this charge:

Rejoice in God; and may you be clothed in the garments of salvation and covered with the robe of integrity.

A stole may be given with this charge:

Receive this stole as a sign of your being yoked with Christ, remembering his words, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me."

A chalice and paten may be given with this charge:

I (we) present you with this chalice and paten. May they serve as a sign of the savings acts and presence of Christ.

The Ministerial Code of Ethics of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) may be signed

The certificate of ordination will be presented by the Regional Pastor:

[NOTE: After the presentation of the Ordination Certificate, the Regional Pastor will typically give the ordinand to offer a brief word of response if he or she chooses; it is not required to print a heading for this in the bulletin]

The Service of the Lord’s Supper

[The Regional Pastor typically offers the Invitation, and the newly ordained minister leads in the other presiding functions. It is very appropriate for elders from the sponsoring congregation(s) to preside with the newly ordained minister.]

The Invitation

The Offering of the Gifts

[This moment is optional; the elements may also already be on the table instead. If not present on the Table, then Bread and Cup are brought forward during the singing of a hymn]

[The following "Great Thanksgiving" may be used, or another order of communion may be chosen. It is appropriate to have folks come forward and receive by intinction; it is also appropriate to use a "traditional" Disciples style of communion. This decision depends on the host pastor.]

The Great Thanksgiving


Minister: The Lord be with you.

People: And also with you.

Minister: Lift up your hearts.

People: We lift them to the Lord.

Minister: Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.

People: It is right to give our thanks and praise.

Prayers of Thanksgiving and Remembrance

Over the Bread (offered by an elder)

Over the Cup (offered by an elder)

Prayer of Consecration

Minister: Holy God, you have blessed your people with gifts of life.

People: You have sent your Holy Spirit to uphold us this day.

Minister: Now let this same Spirit

descend upon these gifts

and upon your people,

that in the breaking of the bread

and the sharing of this cup

we may know the living presence of Jesus.

People: Feed us with spiritual food

and inspire our thoughts, words, and actions

with your Spirit,

that the world may be renewed.

Blessing, glory, and honor

be yours, O God, for ever and ever.


The Lord’s Prayer (A version which is more familiar to the congregation may be substituted.)

Our Father in heaven,

hallowed be your Name,

your Kingdom come,

your will be done

on earth as in heaven.

Give us today our daily bread.

Forgive us our sins

as we forgive those

who sin against us.

Save us from the time of trial,

and deliver us from evil.

For the kingdom, the power,

and the glory are yours,

now and forever. Amen.

The Words of Institution and the Breaking of the Bread

Sharing the Bread and the Cup

Prayer after Communion [optional]

The Dismissal and Sending Forth

Closing Hymn [may be a recessional]

Benediction [either by the host pastor, newly ordained minister, or Regional Pastor]




Preparation, Arrangements, Expenses, Etc.

A. Spiritual Preparation

The tradition of preparation for ordination includes engaging in prayer, fasting, or retreat just prior to the service of ordination. Candidates are encouraged to find time in the midst of the many details of planning the service to focus spiritually through reflection and prayer.

B. Procedures

This document presumes that the ordination candidate has fulfilled, or soon will fulfill, the requirements for ordination by the region. It is advisable to alert and consult with the region and the proposed host congregation four to six months in advance of the prospective date for the ordination service. This will enable the region and the proposed host congregation to begin to make preparations and schedule the ordination service. However, no public announcement of the ordination service should be made prior to regional authorization for ordination. This protocol protects and preserves the integrity of the Training and Care or Recognition and Standing process.

The ordination service requires careful planning and preparation. There are participants to invite and schedule. There are numerous details to be arranged with the region, the host congregation and pastor. (See the "Checklist" for a few of these) The process cannot be rushed. Although the candidate is expected to take initiative in making arrangements, the process of preparation and planning will entail close cooperation and will call for a spirit of mutuality among many persons.

C. Regional Participation

A Regional Minister, by the nature of the office, represents the Regional Church which authorizes ordination. Therefore a regional minister, or alternate designated by him or her, ordinarily presides over the act of ordination. The ordination candidate contacts the regional minister concerning the date and time for the ordination service and invites her/him to represent the region. The regional minister or designated alternate ordinarily provides leadership in the following parts of the ordination service:

1. Leads in the service of the "Ordination Covenant."

2. Presides at the service of the laying on of hands including the ordaining prayer and presenting of the Certificate of Ordination.

3. Gives the invitation in the service of the Lord’s Supper.

D. Selecting a Date and Time

Considerations in selecting an appropriate date and time for the ordination service include:

1. The regional ministers’ (or a designated alternate’s) availability.

2. The availability of the host church.

3. The availability of guest participants and family.

The candidate is advised to begin selecting a date as soon as possible, respecting the procedures of the region and working closely with the host pastor. The regular Sunday worship service may serve as an occasion for the ordination. However, this may limit participation due to conflicting schedules.


A. Participants

There are a variety of liturgical roles in the ordination service. The candidate and host pastor together are advised to study the service and enumerate the various liturgical roles and functions as a basis for determining the participants needed. The candidate is to work in close cooperation with the host pastor in selecting and inviting persons to participate. Be clear as to who extends each invitation.

1. The host pastor ordinarily conducts the opening and the closing of the service and other portions as agreed upon. The host pastor brings greetings during the time of preparation and states the purposes of the service. The purpose might be stated as follows:

"The purpose of this worship service is to ordain (Name) into Christian ministry. It is a service of thanksgiving and praise in response to the gifts of the Holy Spirit. It includes the covenant of ordination and the laying on of hands. This service expresses the unity of the Church and celebrates God's continuing care for the Church and the world, through the anointing of God's servants."

2. With the approval of the host pastor and sponsoring congregation, the candidate may invite someone who has been influential in the candidate’s life to preach the sermon. Since the host pastor has responsibility for preaching in the congregation, the candidate consults the host pastor about whom she or he wishes to invite to preach. A former minister of the host church may be asked to preach with the consent of the current pastor, in consultation with officers of the congregation. The host pastor extends an invitation to the selected preacher.

3. A representative from the Training and Care or Recognition and Standing Committee is to be invited to present the candidate’s credentials. Another person may be designated to do this if a representative is unavailable.

4. Ministers from other Disciples congregations and ministers from other communions are ordinarily invited to participate in the service. Their presence signifies the ecumenical fellowship of the church. Ministers wear their usual liturgical attire.

B. Participants’ Dress and Rehearsal

1. Leader’s Attire-- If the clergy participants in the service are to be robed, the clergy participants are to be advised. Stoles are appropriate. The appropriate color is RED.

2. Candidate’s Attire-- Normally the candidate would not wear any liturgical vestments until the presentation of the signs of the office.

3. Rehearsal-- The host pastor is in charge of the rehearsal for the service. All participants are to be advised of the time and place for the rehearsal, scheduled for at least one hour before the service. Special directions for the arrangements for the laying on of hands are given by the regional minister or the designated representative.

C. Music

1. Music is an integral and enriching part of the ordination service. The candidate should discuss music with the host pastor and, where appropriate, with the local music director and/or minister of music. Ample time should be allowed for the choir to prepare for this occasion. The host congregation’s musicians may not be able to perform all the music that is desired. Other musicians may be invited, in consultation with the local music director.

2. Hymns, choir anthems, and solos are to be used as an integral part of the service. However, they should not interrupt the ordination rite itself. Sung responses may be used where appropriate.

3. If special music is used, its content, style and performance should be consistent with the purposes of the service.

4. Hymns are an important part of the service. Criteria for selection include faithfulness to the theme of ordination, particularly hymns invoking the Holy Spirit, personal significance to the candidate as well as the congregation, and showing inclusiveness in language and ethnic cultural diversity. The Chalice Hymnal (Chalice Press, St. Louis, 1995) contains a section dealing specifically with the ministry on pages 451-457.

Congregations are to write to the publisher to secure permission to publish copyrighted materials.

D. Scripture Readings and The Sermon

1. Scripture Readings

The following passages are suggestions. The preacher may wish to select other readings.


Exodus 18:13-23

Deuteronomy 4:32-40; 6:4-9


Isaiah 6:1-8; 40:1-11; 42:1-9; 43:1-7; 52:7-10; 58:6-12; 61:1-6a

Jeremiah 1:4-10

Ezekiel 33:1-9

Psalms: 16; 27; 84; 95; 96; 99; 113; 132:8-19; 133


Acts 8:26-40; 20:17-35

Romans 1:16-17; 10:1-17; 10:13-17; 12:1-12

I Corinthians 12:12-16

II Corinthians 4:1-18; 5:17-21

Ephesians 4:7-16; 6:10-18

Philippians 2:1-16

Colossians 3:1-17

I Thessalonians 5:12-23

II Timothy 1:3-14; 3:14 - 4:5; 4:1-7

I Peter 5:5-13


Matthew 9:35-38; 15:13-19; 28:18-20

Luke 4:14-21; 10:1-12, 16-20; 24:44-49a

John 10:1-16; 13:3-11; 13:12-17, 20; 17:6-19; 21:15-17.

2. The Sermon

The sermon focuses on the church, the nature of the ministry, the meaning of discipleship, and the role of the Holy Spirit. This is not the time to become sentimental about the ministry or eulogize the candidate and his or her family.

E. Procedures for Presenting the Candidate

1. Congregational representatives may give brief descriptions of the candidate's personal characteristics, and a statement of the congregation's support.

2. The region’s representative will present the credentials: this statement is less than one typed page in length and includes a brief background on the person to be ordained; how he or she received a call to ministry; a short survey of preparation, education, experience; and a very brief statement on the region's processes and the region's recommendation.

F. Covenant of Ordination and Laying on of Hands

The regional minister leads in the "Covenant of Ordination" and the laying on of hands, including the ordination prayer.

G. Presentation of the Signs of the Office

The presentations recognize significant dimensions of the office of ministry. The host church usually makes the presentations but may share with the other sponsoring congregations. (See the Model Service for details)

Other gifts, such as books, plaques, and photographs, are presented at the reception following the service.

H. Communion Service

It is appropriate for the regional minister and the newly ordained person to co-preside at the Lord’s Supper. The regional minister gives the invitation to the Table, and the newly ordained minister leads in other presiding functions, including the words of institution.

I. Worship Bulletin

1. Complete, accurate information regarding the service is to be submitted to the host pastor two-three weeks prior to the service, or as he/she wishes.. The candidate and host pastor will work closely together. The use of titles of participants should follow a uniform pattern.

2. It is appropriate to include a brief biographical paragraph about the candidate.

3. The candidate and host pastor are to select the worship bulletin cover in consultation with one another.

J. Seating

The host congregation makes arrangements for ushers to help with the seating of guests and the distribution of worship bulletins. Arrangements are made for special seating for family and special guests of the church and the candidate. The candidate and the host pastor plan the seating arrangements in advance of the service.

K. Length of Time

It is expected that the service be no more than 75 minutes.

L. Signing the Ordination Certificate

The regional minister will have the responsibility for securing the signatures of all designated participants.


Additional matters surrounding the ordination service also need thoughtful attention. This section contains guidelines on invitations, the reception and expenses.

A. Invitations-- Below is a sample of a suggested invitation. The congregation and Region extend the invitation. The congregation may share in the cost of the invitations and mailing. The candidate and the host pastor consult in advance of the preparation of the invitations to arrive at a mutually satisfactory arrangement on costs.

* * * * * * * * *

The [name of region(s)] and the [name of congregation(s)] of the

Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)

Cordially invite your presence and prayers

For the Ordination to Christian Ministry

of [candidate’s full name]


[day, date, time]


[name of host congregation] Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)


[name of town, address]

Reception at the church following the service

* * * * * * * * *

B. Reception-- It is appropriate for the host congregation to provide a reception in honor of the newly ordained person if it wishes to do so and according to its ability and desire to pay for the reception.

The host pastor initiates contact within the congregation to make arrangements for the reception. The host pastor also consults with the candidate concerning arrangements for this event. If there are to be special provisions, the candidate is to obtain the consent of the host pastor and congregation before proceeding and shall be prepared to cover any extra costs.

C. General Expenses-- The host pastor (along with the regional minister, if necessary) shall discuss the costs with the candidate. An ordination service is an extraordinary event for a congregation. It can be a time of renewal and significant witness. The host pastor may wish to encourage the congregation to extend itself generously and fully in celebration of this event. If there are special funds available for such events, the host pastor advises the candidate of such provisions. The following guidelines are intended to provide directions for the customary way in which the expenses are met.

1. Congregation’s Expenses

a. Gifts and/or Signs of the Office of Ministry-- It is usual and customary for the host congregation and, where desirable, for other sponsoring congregations to pay the costs of such gifts.

b. Reception-- It is gracious of the congregation to pay for the expenses involved in the reception. However, other collaborative arrangements are also appropriate. The host pastor is to help facilitate discussion of these arrangements.

c. Invitations-- The congregation prepares and mails invitations to its members, or invites persons via the newsletter, email, etc. The candidate is responsible for mailing and inviting persons beyond the congregation. A simple style and format for an invitation are suggested in this document.

d. Preacher-- If the congregation ordinarily gives guest preachers an honorarium, it is appropriate to give the guest preacher the usual amount. Travel expenses are ordinarily paid by the candidate.

2. Candidate’s Expenses

a. Preacher-- The candidate is expected to pay the travel costs of the guest preacher. If the congregation normally gives guest preachers an honorarium, the congregation may wish to give this to the guest preacher in addition to the travel expenses. College and seminary faculty members do not usually have travel allowances for attending ordination services.

b. Musicians- Honoraria for the organist and paid choir members may be paid by the congregation, but the candidate and host pastor need to be clear about this. The candidate may pay for any additional musicians. If the congregation has special provisions for this, or desires to help in this area, the host pastor is to facilitate the congregation’s contribution to this aspect of the celebration.

c. Other Participants- It is usual and customary for the candidate to pay travel costs for other participants in the ordination service. Participants may not expect reimbursement, but the candidate should not presume this. It is appropriate to clarify financial matters with the participants. Further, the congregation may have resources to help in this area. The host pastor shall take the lead in advising the candidate about any such provisions.

3. Unspecified Expenses- Costs not identified or anticipated in this document are to be talked about openly and fully. In general it is advised that thorough and thoughtful attention be given to these matters and that good stewardship be exercised in the use of all resources, personnel and material.

VI. Appendix


Theological Perspectives

God calls all of humanity to receive the good news of the Gospel and to accept its call to be God’s people. In a divided and unbelieving world, those who accept this good news and are baptized are drawn into the fellowship (koinonia) of a new community, the church. In this body, the Holy Spirit unites those who follow Jesus Christ and sends them as witnesses into the world. The church’s mission is to proclaim and prefigure the justice and joy of the Kingdom of God. In order to fulfill this mission faithfully, the members of the Body of Christ are given forms of witness, service and ministry.

The Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada, along with other churches within the Body of Christ, believes all ministry in the church begins and ends in the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is Jesus’ ministry -- of loving, liberating, reconciling, healing, serving -- which defines and shapes all ministries in his church.

This essential ministry of Christ is entrusted to all the people of God through baptism. Through baptism all members of the church become part of the covenant community and are commissioned for their servant ministry; they become participants in the priesthood of all believers. The gifts (charisms) of the Holy Spirit are different and diverse, but in tremendous and simple ways they proclaim the mighty acts of God and mediate God’s loving and reconciling work to and in the world. They may be gifts of communicating the gospel in word and deed, gifts of healing, caring, praying, teaching, giving, and working for peace and justice. Every baptized person is called to witness to Christ in whatever situation he or she lives; to express in their daily lives the ministry of Christ.

Within the ministry of the whole people of God there is, and has been since the early church, representative ministry called by God and set apart by the Church for distinctive functions. Authority and blessing to perform this ministry are celebrated in ordination. In ordination -- through prayers invoking the Holy Spirit and the laying on of hands -- the church confirms in women and men the call of God, acknowledges in them the necessary gifts and graces, and accepts this ministry in and for the church. "The chief responsibility of the ordained ministry is to assemble and build up the Body of Christ by proclaiming and teaching the Word of God, by celebrating the sacraments, and by guiding the life of the community in its worship, its mission and its caring ministry." (Baptism. Eucharist and Ministry: Ministry, paragraph 13.)

Ordination sends forth a company of servants of the servant Lord. These ministries are given for the common good of the whole world. The authority and authenticity of ordained ministers flow through their faithful intercessions, loving leadership and servanthood before God on behalf of all people.

Disciples of Christ accept ordination as a gift of the Holy Spirit at work in the community of faith. In every service of ordination we, therefore, seek to witness to at least four dimensions of this ordering ministry:

(1) The ordained enter the apostolic ministry. By this we mean they receive their authority and commission from the risen Christ. The first Christian ministers were the apostles in the New Testament, to whom the living Lord revealed himself and sent "to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Ministers in every generation preach, celebrate, witness, and gather disciples in continuity with those early apostles.

(2) Ordination witnesses to a representative ministry. Those who accept the ministry of the Word, sacrament, and mission are responsible for re-presenting, showing forth, to the world and to all baptized Christians the character of their ministry and witness. A central task of such representative ministry is personally and publicly to point the church to its dependence on Jesus Christ, who is the source of its faith, mission, and unity.

(3) Those who receive ordination enter a collegial ministry. Ministry is inherently a shared responsibility. No minister is independent or autonomous, all seek to teach and work together to express koinonia in support and care for each other. This collegiality relates ordained and lay persons in common ministry. The ministries of all members of the believing community are complementary, given to one to be supportive of the other. All are to build up the Body of Christ in love. No differences of vocation, function or education should obscure the fact that the one ministry of Christ is shared by the whole people of God. Lay and ordained are partners together in governance and witness; together they empower the church for effective participation in discovering God’s will for all humanity.

(4) Most appropriately, ordination is a rite of the Church Universal. While ordination is normally done by a particular denomination, and standing is limited to a particular communion, the intention is that no one is ever ordained into a particular denomination or tradition, certainly not into the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Those ordained are representative ministers of the Church Universal, even as they are also accountable at all times for that ministry to the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). While we serve with the vision of universality, the Church lives with the pain of a divided ministry. Nevertheless, all ministers are called to point out the community of Jesus Christ, to work to bring new expressions of the one universal Church into being, and to search for forms of unity which the divided churches cannot yet express.

Historical Perspective

Since the early 1800’s, when the Disciples began, our understanding of the ministry and practices of ordination have gradually changed. In many congregations the ministry consisted of local elders and deacons who were ordained by the congregation to be its leaders. In addition to these permanent local ministers, Disciples maintained evangelists who traveled from place to place, preaching, founding new congregations, and organizing them permanently for their congregational life. In other congregations a pastor was the primary, and sometimes only, ministerial leader. By the middle years of the century, the pattern stabilized with elders and deacons in every congregation and with the expectation that congregations that were strong enough would also have a settled, full-time pastor.

Ordination was continued as an action of the congregation; pastors- - and elders and deacons- - were set apart by the laying on of hands with prayer. Even in these early years, however, there were examples of the ordination of ministers at colleges and area assemblies of the churches. Thus from early days the Disciples have had some form of ordination at a level other than the congregation.

Our ministerial system has continued to change so that today the normal pattern of congregational leadership consists of an ordained pastor and elders and deacons who probably have not been ordained. Our theological understandings of church, ministry, and sacraments are only now catching up with our practices.

Two processes have been at work since the 1950s. First, new relationships have developed between congregations, regions, and the church at the general level. With respect to ordination, policies and criteria concerning the ministry are established by the church at the general level. The nurture and supervision of candidates for ordination, the authorization of ordination, and a significant role in the ordination service are primarily the responsibilities of regions. Congregations also participate directly in the examining of candidates and conducting of services of ordination.