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Ordination—A Holy Spirit Mandate

Ordination is the culmination of the call to ministry. The process begins when God qualifies the called with the gift of the Spirit to minister. “He gave some, Apostles, Prophets, Evangelist, Pastors, and Teachers.” The church, then, by acknowledging such gifts in individuals, authorizes them before the church, to work for the Lord. This formal authorization is called ordination.

Ordination may take such forms as: anointing, appointing, dedication, consecration, sanctification or separation. Nevertheless, all describe the same phenomenon of setting apart for holy use. “…The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them” (Acts 13:2, 3). And the church formally set them apart.

Thus by anointing the prophets, the priests, dedicating the temple, furniture or vessels and ordaining apostles or ministers, the church sets apart for holy use. These ceremonies do not impart power to these instruments but remind us that God’s claim is upon His chosen vessels, and to instill in us the principle that whatever is employed for God’s service must be sanctified. Interestingly, the church sets buildings, furniture, and even the pulpit apart for holy use but neglect some of the ministers who serve in the pulpit. Reasons: lack of degree or because they happen to be female! But isn’t it problematic, that we can use them for holy work but we can’t set them apart for holy use! 

It’s unbiblical and even a desecration to put a person to minister before the alter to do a holy work for years without setting him/her apart for holy use. Can you imagine an Old Testament priest ministering before the alter unordained? Either we don’t employ them at all because they are not called but if they are called and we employ them for holy work, we must ordain them, for God calls nobody into a half ministry.

Some say female pastors cannot be leaders in the church, that’s why they can’t be ordained. Now, that’s contradiction in terms; either they are called to pastor or not. For there is no half calling! God never calls anyone to be a half pastor. When God calls a person into the pastoral ministry, He calls him or her into leadership to fulfill complete leadership functions. The job description of every pastor/shepherd (male or female) is the same: to lead. The shepherd leads the flock! Ellen White echoes the sentiment: “It is the accompaniment of the Holy Spirit of God that prepares workers, both men and women, to become pastors to the flock of God” (1).

Religious leadership might have started as a birthright of the masculine gender in the Old Testament but in the Gospels, pastoral leadership is a gift of the Spirit given to the born again, called and chosen disciples of Christ. Church leadership is not a birthright to be possessed by men but a spiritual gift to be received by all the called: both men and women in Christ.

So those the Holy Spirit calls into the pastorate and are acknowledged by the church with employment must be set apart for holy use. Ordain them to perform their full ministry with dignity, respect and confidence. That was the practice of the New Testament Church. “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away” (Acts 13:2, 3 & Rom.1:1).

Ordination, therefore, is not only a culmination of a call to ministry but a mandate from the Holy Spirit for all those called ministry!

1. Ellen White, “Canvassers as Gospel Evangelists,” Review and Herald, January 15, 1901, para.

—Sednak Kojo Duffu Yankson, D.Min., is Pastor, East New York Seventh-day Adventist Church and Chaplain, Northeastern Conference Ministerial Association.

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