Invitation to Hear God's Call to Ordained Ministry
(The bishop addresses the congregation in these or similar words:)
Sisters and brothers, this [night/day],
in worship and praise,
in prayer and apostolic action,
God has acted,
setting apart men and women to be ordained spiritual leaders
for the sake of God's missionary community, the church.
Just as all Christians are set apart for love and service in baptism,
God chooses some from among the baptized to be set apart as elders and deacons.
This very [night/day] the Spirit of God is among us
to call a new generation of [pastors and servants/elders and deacons]
[whatever the appropriate language may be]
to take up the mantle of leading the church of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps you have sensed a nudge toward ordained ministry.
Perhaps you have imagined yourself serving Christ
by leading others in service to the needy,
or in leading a congregation in word and sacrament.
Such moments and feelings are the ways the Holy Spirit gets our attention.
They are promptings to be welcomed and examined.
In the name of the risen Christ, I,
your [bishop/the chief shepherd of this annual conference],
call each of you to pray and listen to the voice of God.
If you sense some inner calling to respond,
I invite you to rise and come forward
as an act of faith and willingness to test this calling.
If you have already responded to this call in the past
and have been taking steps to follow Christ into ordained ministry,
I invite you to rise and come forward as an act of faith
and a sign of your willingness to continue to pursue God's call.
If you do not feel this call for yourself,
but yearn for others to respond,
will you pray for those who present themselves here and now.
If you sense Christ calling, come now
as we sing of God's call and support one another in faithful response.
God is calling: listen and respond. Fear not. Come.
Hymn Suggestions: The following are especially appropriate:
"Whom Shall I Send" (UMH 582)
"Take My Life, and Let It Be" (UMH 399)
"The Summons" (TFWS 2130)
"Take, O Take Me as I Am" (Wildgoose/GIA)
When the people have assembled before the bishop, he or she may offer prayer for those who have come and give thanks for the grace and blessing of God in raising up servant leaders. Members of the Board of Ordained Ministry may invite those who have responded to join them for a brief orientation to next steps to be taken in testing the call, or give each respondent a card to be filled out so that appropriate contact can be made as follow-up to their response.
The service continues with the "Sending Forth."