Saturday Evening Ordering of Ministry

Saturday evening featured A Service for the Ordering of Ministry. Bishop Sharma Lewis greeted those gathered and led in prayer. The bishop then stood near the baptismal shell for the Recognition of Common Ministry and Reaffirmation  of Baptism.

Bishop Lewis reintroduced Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. who was her pastor at one time and is now a colleague in ministry. He is the evening preacher. "I want to personally thank many of you who journeyed down to Mississippi during the time of Hurricane Katrina and were a blessing to our conference. In many ways we are still recovering from Katrina. Many of the pastors talk about other congregations who came to be a blessing. Many came from Virginia."

The bishop continued, "The Holy Spirit is anxious today to fall on people. It's anxious to transform people who will transform the world," he said. Addressing those especially who are preparing for ministry, "If the Holy Spirit is not working through you, it's not because the Holy Spirit doesn't want to. It will only work when you allow the Holy Spirit to do its work."

The bishop said he knows "we sometimes feel like God is moving too slow in our lives." "Just because you don't see God running by like the Flash, He is still on the move." Swanson said we can be so busy looking for a big explosion we can miss the men and women standing at the door. "God is always on the move, always trying to accomplish things."

Swanson talked about his mother being born in segregated Mississippi. She left Mississippi and met Swanson's father. Her father was an itinerant local preacher in the local church. Bishop Swanson didn't know this until he went to Mississippi to serve as bishop because his grandfather died the year the bishop was born. His grandfather held him at 6 months old and didn't know he was holding a future bishop in that segregated Mississippi.

Part of the real struggle today and what you are moving in today. You have to throw off the mantle of negativity. "You must listen for the word of God. If you really want to see the ring of God, preach God's word. It is God's word that sets people free, that liberates the oppressed, the liberates you to preach in a hostile church, and heals the church and raises the dead. It is the word of God. Don't be duped into abandoning God's word."

He talked about Ezekiel's encounter with the dry bones. "Can these bones live?" God says I'm not going to do it for you. You prophesy. You can bring the breath of God into those dry bones. "Quit taking a back seat because you think somebody has something you don't have. Preach the word of God."

He continued, "When God sends you on a mission, it is mission possible, not mission impossible."

"Your, the first class of Bishop Sharma D. Lewis, y'all walk out of here saying, 'me and the Lord, we got this.' Not only shall the church survive, it will thrive because God is on my side!"

Bishop Swanson then said, "I know I'm out of order," but invited Bishop Lewis to stand beside him and issued an altar call to any who felt God calling them. After a time of people coming forward to answer that call, the service continued with Bishop Lewis conducting the Licensing of Local Pastors, the Commissioning of Provisional Members and the Ordination of a Deacon and Elders.



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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