Blog|The Rev. Joe C. Williams
So many wonderful things have been happening at Grace Cathedral these past few weeks, one needs only to look around them to see the Spirit moving among us. We blessed backpacks for youth returning to school; we welcomed seven new members into the household of God on the Feast of the Transfiguration; we invested eight new choristers, and this week, installed the Rev. Greg Kimura, Ph.D. (Cantab.) as our Vice Dean and Cathedral Canon, and we celebrated my priestly ordination.
Years of study, self-reflection, and prayer have led me here, but just as our Canon Precentor has given insight on the election and consecration of the Ninth Bishop of California, I wanted to take a few moments to take a brief look at the service itself. This is especially important because this service occurs infrequently — typically, twice per year as diocesan-wide celebrations — and may be less familiar.
The earliest text from an ordination rite was that of the Apostolic Tradition of Hippolytus (c. 215), which is thought to be representative of early rites in Rome. In this rite, the bishop was elected by a local congregation, and was ordained on a Sunday by a group of bishops who laid hands on his head. In turn, when presbyters (what we would now call priests) were ordained, hands were laid by the bishop, and other presbyters joined for he was being admitted to a corporate body presided over by the bishop. Today, we still follow this custom.
In the Anglican tradition, the prayer book of 1549 didn’t include a rite for ordination. However, in 1550, “The Form and Manner of Making and Consecrating of Archbishops, Bishops, Priests and Deacons” was published. This model served as the principal form and source for subsequent rites published in 1552 and 1662.
In The Episcopal Church, a form for ordination has been included in each approved Book of Common Prayer. This rite includes a presentation of the ordinand (person being ordained), and a verbal and written declaration of consent that expresses their promise to uphold this new ministry as well as their belief in the scripture and doctrine of the church. The service also includes the litany for ordinations and a hymn calling on the Holy Spirit before the laying on of hands. Following the prayer of consecration, the newly ordained person is vested according to their order (deacon, priest, or bishop), followed by participation in the Eucharist.
The service is a sacred and holy moment for all involved: those who are called to serve in ordained ministry, and the people who support them in that ministry. I am thrilled to have shared this time with you all. In my time at Grace, I have grown and learned so much, and it’s because of the community that surrounds me. Each of you brings special gifts to this sacred place, and I am thrilled to continue this new chapter in my ministry, surrounded by you all.
The Rev. Joe C. Williams