Ways to Honor Soon to be Ordained Pastors and Priests
Deacons and Seminarians spend years in school preparing for their roles as future pastors or priests. There are the usual years of undergraduate work and then it is on to seminary. On average, they may spend 7 or 8 years on school before they are prepared to take their ordination vows.
The ordination of a new pastor or priest usually involves a ceremony or special service. Many churches have a specific order of service to ordain new clergy. There is a special service to install them as the pastor or priest in their new church or parish. These are special times. And it is important to honor the calling of God’s Holy Ministers.
The first thing that we can do for soon to be or newly ordained pastors and priests is to pray for them. How often do we call the pastor and ask him to pray for us? We expect that of them all the time. Yet, do we pray for our pastors? Just like us, they too have the problems and concerns of everyday life, and added to that, the problems and concerns of the members of their parish. These concerns are both spiritual and physical concerns. They help us bear our burdens, and yet, do we remember to pray for them?
The world is becoming increasingly hostile to the faithful teaching and preaching of God’s Word. Our pastors and priests need our prayers to remain faithful in their calling, and to remain faithful to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. They need prayers of support for wisdom and guidance. They need prayers and support to continue to study God’s Word.
If praying for your pastor or priest is not a part of your daily prayers, I encourage you to add them to your daily prayer list.
Each church body has different ways of placing pastors and priests in their ministry. In my home church body, which is the LC-MS, we have two seminaries. In the spring, each seminary has a call service. At this service, the graduating seminarians receive their calls to their first parishes.
If you are unfamiliar with the call or placement process of your church body, take the time to learn more about the process. If you like, find out if there are needs that you might be able to assist the graduating seminarians with. This might include praying for the seminarians who are receiving their calls, as well as the churches extending the calls. If you live near a seminary, attend the call services if possible. Our synod also provides live coverage of the call services.
Family and Friend Support
If you are the family or friend of a soon to be ordained pastor or priest, check with your seminarian and ask what they might need help with. Will they be relocating and need help with a move? Do they have small children and need help with child care while moving? Do they need help with packing and unpacking, or meals? Do they need help with errands, groceries, laundry, cleaning, mowing? If they are new to your community, offer to show them around, and introduce them to new people. There is a great deal for a new pastor or priest to manage as their ordination and installation day approaches.
Prayer is always at the top of the list for a congregation to support their new pastor or priest. But here is another easy way to show support for a soon to be ordained or installed minister: show up at their installation service. I am frequently surprised at the low turn out of church members for the ordination and installation of their new pastors or priests. Every church body will have its own customs and services. This is an example of the order of service for Ordinations in my church body. Ordination or installation services are or should be a very big deal!
A pastor or priest is taking their sacred vows to serve the Lord. The Lord has called them to do His work as ordained in Holy Scripture. Their job as a pastor or priest is the nurture of our souls. Many fellow pastors or priests may show up at the ordination and installation services to speak words to the newly ordained clergy member, but congregation members should be present to pray and show their support, too. These services are very special. A pastor’s calling becomes a joy when they know they have the prayers and support of their congregation.
Congregations may also show support by helping with moving, yard work, offering to paint or do other small jobs to make their new home comfortable. How does your pastor’s office look? Does it need fresh paint, new bookshelves? Does the pastor need storage for their vestments – stoles and chasubles? Does the pastor need a new computer or printer for the office?
New pastors often start their ministry with nothing in the way of personal vestments. It is usual and customary to gift a soon to be or newly ordained pastor or priest with a red stole which will be worn for their services. The red stole is used at Pentecost, and in some church bodies, on Palm Sunday, Reformation, and on various Martyr Feast days. It is always recommended that even if you are gifting a stole to a pastor, you check with them for approval before ordering a stole. Stoles are very personal and should be something that the wearer will enjoy using. It is always a good idea to check with the pastor or priest for their ideas before placing an order for a stole. The other option would be to ask them for ideas of stoles they like. Maybe give them a selection of three or four stoles that might fit within your price or budget for the gift.
Stoles come in a wide variety of styles, shapes, and sizes. Fabric selections range from brocades to silks, and polyester fabrics. The trims can be simple as in the above stole or have elaborate embroidery designs such as the stole below.
The office of the Holy Ministry is a Sacred Office. As we approach the season if the church year for the graduation of new pastors and priests, and as they take their ordination vows and are installed in their new positions as pastors and priests, please remember them in your prayers and look for ways to support them in the work they do for the Lord.
Soli Deo Gloria