Scrum Prayers

It is my privilege to attend installation and ordination services all over the presbytery.  The ordination and installation of officers and pastors has always been one of my favorite parts of the Presbyterian church. The fact that we are reminded on a regular basis about the vows we have each taken; the reminder that this is a ministry that is shared by those who spend their days doing something besides full-time ministry and those who are paid to be ministers; the visual impact of so many people coming forward for the laying on of hands… it reminds us of the way we honor the gifts of all those who are called to a particular, ordered ministry.  When I was a pastor in Burlington, Iowa, I was in a lectionary study group with the other downtown pastors. Lutherans, Methodists, UCC, Presbyterians—we all met each Wednesday to talk about the lectionary readings and to support one another in ministry. During the week when my husband and I were preparing for the installation and ordination of new officers, we always had to interpret that act to our friends. None of the rest of them served in a place where the members of their church boards and the volunteers carrying out their caring ministries had answered the same ordination questions as they had.

In the last few weeks I have also been reminded how that scrum of people with their hands on the ordinand moves like a living being. You have felt that when you have stood in that group. As the prayer goes on, the group begins to sway a little. Sometimes you have to be sure that you are going to be able to keep your balance as the group moves first one way and then another. I have found that bending your knees a little bit so that you can adjust to the tiny movements helps!

That scrum reminds us not only of our shared ministries within our congregations but also of our shared ministry across the presbytery, across the denomination and across time. We lay hands on one another to remind us that we are not alone. All of those who have gone before us—all the way back to the very early church—are represented in an unbroken line of authority and commitment and call. That group of swaying people reminds us of the gravity of the vows just taken as well as the support of the cloud of witnesses around us. As we adjust to the tiny movements of this living organism of elders and ministers, we are also reminded of our call to serve as a part of a larger body. No one ordained in the PCUSA serves alone. Deacons serve on a board or, if ordained to serve without a board, are under the authority of the session. Members of the session are accountable to one another and to their congregations. Ministers of Word and Sacrament are under the authority of their session or other employer and to the presbytery as it represents the whole denomination. Being a part of a body of believers who support each other, who hold each other accountable, and who adjust to the needs of the whole body is one of our greatest strengths as we work to bring hope in the name of Jesus Christ.


Susan D. Krummel (Sue)

Executive Presbyter

Presbytery of Chicago