“Let not my star of hope
Grow dim or disappear.”
So sang the congregation as four long-serving women entered the ranks of the ordained Adventist ministry at the Worthington, Ohio, Adventist Church last Sabbath afternoon.
Linda Farley, Lori Farr, Sandra Pappenfus and Carmen Seibold — three of them nurses who have become hospital chaplains and one an accountant who now serves as the pastor of a three-church district — received the blessing and endorsement of their church. Surrounded by supporters who included both Dave Weigley, the president of the Columbia Union and Raj Attiken, the president of the Ohio Conference, they shared stories and perspective that together became a kind of ordination homily. Conference officials offered welcome and affirmation, but with the rest of the congregations sat at these women’s feet for spiritual food.
No one belabored the point that these ordinations were taking place in the midst of denominational controversy.
Linda Farley, a chaplain from Kettering, Ohio, spoke of pain and grief — and high satisfaction — along her path to ordained ministry. “God still surprises me,” she said, evoking not only her life story but also (as it seemed) the ordination service itself.
At the point when Lori Farr first sensed her “call,” she “had never met a woman pastor before.” But her brother encouraged her to pursue a seminary education, and now, on the occasion of her ordination, she spoke with affection and gratitude about the members of her three congregations. “If I boast, I boast in Christ,” she said.
Pappenfus remarked on “learning a new language” in seminary, and on how her view of being a “wounded servant” had deepened with the death of one of her own children. She emphasized how fulfilling it is to be present to the sick. “I have loved my work,” she said. “When God shines through me, I am on the mountain top.”
Carmen Seibold reflected on how, according to Scripture, women were entrusted with the news of Christ’s resurrection. Though seen in their society as “untrustworthy,” God by this surprising gesture gave them back their voices. With a nod to the whole assembly, she added: “You have surprised us by believing in our call.”
Following the ordination prayer there was congregational song (“Be Thou My Vision”) and a benediction. More than three hours after the service began, people were still mingling at the reception.
Watch the ordination service here.