Future of the church ‘in your hands,’ King tells new clergy

By Jessica Brodie

GREENVILLE—Bringing a word on “Getting Better,” retired Bishop James R. King Jr. preached an ordination service at Annual Conference Monday night, June 3, that commissioned or ordained 19 men and women as clergy.

“Regardless of your circumstances, regardless of your highs or your lows, you can get better,” King said to applause. “Your power switch is called faith. Turn it on and keep it on.

“Every moment, every day, gives you an opportunity to grow in God’s grace and become the person God has created you to be.”

King, who served as bishop of the Kentucky and the South Georgia conferences before his retirement, preached the service instead of Mississippi Resident Bishop James Swanson. Swanson’s wife had taken ill and been hospitalized the day prior.

Drawing from Jeremiah 1:4-8 and John 15:12-17, King talked about how several years ago his mother, in a nursing home, commented that she avoided gossip because she was “working on her sanctification,” meaning she was fully and actively in the process of increasing in holiness, or becoming more like Christ. His mother wanted to avoid the slippery slope of gossip so she wouldn’t fall back in her growth.

That is exactly what the new class of clergy needs to be thinking about, King preached in the Service of Commissioning and Ordination.

“Beautiful people, I’m not a medical doctor or the son of a medical doctor,” King said. “But I do know Dr. Jesus, and I think you know him, too.”

Every moment, every day, gives you an opportunity to grow in God’s grace and become the person God has created you to be, King told the crowd to applause.

“Your past does not have to last,” King said. “Faith is the doorknob you need to turn to walk into the presence of God.”

King said we were each born with what he likes to call “faith nerves”—like arteries, they give life to our faith. He encouraged the new class of clergy to keep these faith nerves healthy and strong and to continue to rely on God

“Hear this special, beautiful people—never stop trying,” King said. “It doesn’t matter how long the light has been red in your life. Don’t spend time arguing with God how hard life has been. When Jesus says go, the light has turned green. It’s time to go!”

Think about it, King said—what would it look like if Jesus had given up there in the Garden of Gethsemane? What would have happened if Thomas Edison had given up?

“We would be in candlelight tonight,” he quipped.

God is able to do whatever God says God will do, King said.

He closed by reminding the crowd God’s kingdom is invested in this concept called the church.

“I tell you tonight: It’s in your hands. Is the church going to grow because of you or decline because of you? … Are you going to help enforce the culture or be influenced by the culture?”

Commissioned as provisional elders: Wanda Diane Altman, Louis Randolph Ashley, Shannon Renee Bullion, Anthony De’Quan Caldwell, William Isaac Dusenbury, Scott Stephen Gilmer, Shirley Peterson Gordon, Nicholas Daniel Perez, Cynthia Anne Rumsey and Charleston Lionel Wilbanks.

Commissioned as a provisional deacon: Susan Marie Pennock.

Ordained as a full deacon: Meg Bryce Jiunnies.

Ordained as full elders: Meegian Alicia Gossard, Ann deRosset Kovan, Susan Biggert Maddox, Mark Douglas Mitchell, Angela Regina Ford Nelson, Henry Lee Ravenel Sr. and Laura Howard Whitt.

Henry Lee Ravenel Sr., full elder candidate, gave the sermon text, Jeremiah 1:4-8. Ann deRossett Kovan, full elder candidate, gave the Gospel text, John 15:12-17.

In his introduction, South Carolina Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston introduced King as a good friend and a man who took him under his wing when Holston became a bishop.

“I’m grateful for him,” Holston said.

An offering for seminary scholarships that evening brought in $11,743.54.

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