What did I just vow to do? (Or, ordination in a “free church” tradition)

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Last Sunday night was my ordination service at Grace Community Church of Seal Beach. In our tradition (Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches), it is the local church alone that is the ordaining agent, rather than a diocese, presbytery of classis. This made the night more personal, since it was our church family doing the ordaining. But personal has its challenges: since I could design the service however I wanted (within reason), the question became: What do I really want to vow to do? Below are the ordination vows I chose. They borrow heavily from the Presbyterian Book of Order and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, with an eye toward our free church practice.  

Vows for the candidate: 

Do you trust in Jesus Christ your Savior, acknowledge him Lord of all and Head of the Church, and through him believe in one God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit? If so, please answer I do.

Do you accept the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments to be, by the Holy Spirit, the unique and authoritative witness to Jesus Christ in the Church universal, and God’s Word? If so, please answer I do.

Do you sincerely receive and adopt the statement of faith and teaching positions of Grace Community Church as reliable expositions of Scripture, and will you be instructed and led by them as you lead the people of God? If so, please answer I do and I will.

Will you fulfill your ministry in obedience to Jesus Christ, under the authority of Scripture, proclaiming the Word of God in season and out of season? If so, please answer I will.

Will you shepherd the flock of God that is before you by equipping them for works of ministry, praying for them and seeking to serve them with energy, intelligence, imagination and love? If so, please answer I will.

Questions to the Congregation

Do we the members of Grace Community Church of Seal Beach ordain Bob Wriedt as our pastor, chosen by God through the voice of this congregation to guide us as disciples of Jesus Christ? Do we?

Do we agree to pray for him, to encourage him, to respect his decisions, and to follow as he guides us, serving Jesus Christ, who alone is head of the church? Do we?

Do we promise to pay him fairly and provide for his welfare as he works among us, to stand by him in trouble and share his joys? Will we listen to the Word as he preaches, welcome his pastoral care, and honor his authority as he seeks to honor and obey Jesus Christ our Lord? Do we?

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