|The unseen details of ministry|
By Joe Detrick, interim director for the Office of Ministry
Many years ago, our eldest son went through a phase of intense curiosity. “Daddy, where does rain come from?” “Mommy, what makes the flowers grow?” “Where does food come from?” We appreciated his inquisitive nature because it provided an opportunity to explore questions and creatively educate our children about life.Another opportunity was singing our family table grace, “Back of the Bread.” The song goes, “Back of the bread is the flour, and back of the flour is the mill, and back of the mill is the wind and the rain, and God’s good will.” This old camp song serves as a reminder of the work “behind the scenes” or the unseen “back story” in many important areas of life.
When I think about the broad scope of the work of the Office of Ministry, I am reminded of the exciting “back story” of calling, forming, credentialing, placing, and sustaining ministerial leadership “to equip the saints for the work of ministry for building up the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:11). One part of this “back story” is working in collaboration with ministry-related committees like the Ministry Advisory Council, the Ministers’ Association Officers, the Pastoral Compensation and Benefits Advisory Committee, the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, and the Council of District Executives. There also is much that happens behind the scenes when a district search committee navigates the transition and search process, and discerns new leadership for their particular district.
There is an extensive and robust “back story” to the calling, training, and sending of women and men into various ministry adventures. This past year, 44 individuals were ordained, 3 individuals were commissioned, 6 individuals were commissioned with ordination in another denomination for term of service, 33 individuals were licensed to the ministry, and 3 individuals were received through transfer of ordination from other denominations.
There is an exciting “back story” working in partnership with the Brethren Academy for Ministerial Leadership, a ministry training partnership of the Church of the Brethren and Bethany Theological Seminary. An important growing edge of the Brethren Academy continues to be its Spanish-language ministry training program (SeBAH-CoB).
These “behind the scene” stories are merely a glimpse of a much wider scope of engagement for the Office of Ministry that occurs regularly. It has been exciting and enjoyable to work with our dedicated national staff. Everyone is committed to their work on behalf of the Church of the Brethren, love what they do, and have deep commitment of faith. All of our work is possible only with your financial support.
Signs along the roads near construction projects say, “Your tax dollars at work.” When men and women in your congregation are called to serve the wider church family in ministry or when churches search for new ministers, it is your generous giving to denominational ministries that helps sustain vital support systems for the larger church family. In other words, “Your dollars at work.”
The next time you sit down to the family dinner table, and consider the unseen details of life like in the old camp song, “Back of the Bread,” remember the back of the Ministry Office is the sending, the training, and the calling of ministers, and that our denominational staff are always providing support for the wider church family. Thank you for supporting the important work of the Office of Ministry and the Church of the Brethren.