3.1 Ordination and Installation

3.1 Ordination and Installation




The Rites

A. Ordination of Ministers of the Word

¶ After the sermon the presiding minister shall begin in this way:

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

DEARLY BELOVED IN CHRIST JESUS: We are gathered here to ordain this brother to the office of Minister of the Word of God according to apostolic order by prayer and the laying on of hands. But since we can do nothing without the Lord, let us unite in prayer for His blessing.

PRAYER:

Almighty and eternal God, by Your Word and Spirit You are gathering a Church chosen out of the whole human race for eternal life according to Your gracious good pleasure, and through Your dear Son You have commanded us to pray to the Lord of the harvest that He will send out laborers into His harvest. We therefore beseech You to grant us and all Your servants a rich measure of Your Holy Spirit so that we may understand and proclaim Your Word, and worthily administer the holy sacraments. We ask that our office may also serve to comfort Your people and edify them in true faith. Be with us also in this hour to bless Your servant whom we shall now ordain to the office of Minister of the Word of God. Let him be a man after Your own heart, and may many be led into Your kingdom through his ministry. Amen.

¶ The presiding minister shall then address the candidate for ordination:

BELOVED BROTHER IN THE LORD: You stand here in the presence of God to be publicly and solemnly ordained to the office of the holy ministry. Therefore it is proper for you to consider earnestly the dignity and responsibility of this office in order that you may enter into it with a lively consciousness of your own sins and inadequacies, and an ardent desire for divine help. The Lord Himself ordained this office when He said: “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The apostle Paul also testifies: “This is a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work.” “Therefore we are ambas­sadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore You on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.” “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.”

The Lord, Who has promised to be with us even to the end of the world, has maintained the office of Minister of the Word among us to the present time; and since we are about to ordain you to this office, listen further to the apostle Paul to Timothy: “Be an example to the believers, in word, in con­duct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity… Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them; that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine. Continue in them: for in doing this you will save both yourself, and those who hear you.”

The apostle Peter admonishes us similarly: “Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by constraint but willingly; not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.”

Dear brother, you are therefore as a servant of Christ to feed the flock of God; to preach the Word in season and out of season; to reprove, to rebuke, to exhort with all patience and humility; to instruct the ignorant, to comfort the afflicted, to strengthen the weak, to seek the lost; to instruct the youth, to continue in prayer and supplication, to administer the holy sacraments, and to maintain good discipline and order in the Church of God.

Be watchful in all things; be a good soldier of Jesus Christ; do the work of an evangelist; make full proof of your ministry; fight the good fight of faith: then the God of peace will be with you; and the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give you a crown of righteousness at that day.

And now in the name of God we request you to answer the following questions:

First: Do you believe that the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, are the Word of God by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and therefore are infallible and inerrant, and are the only and perfect rule of our Christian faith and life?

Answer: I do.

Second: Do you honestly and in good conscience before the Lord declare that you believe and are persuaded that all the articles and points of doctrine in the confessions of this Church, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dordt, are in complete and accurate agreement with the Word of God; and do you promise to teach and defend the same in good faith and reject all doctrines conflicting therewith?

Answer: I do.

Third: Do you believe with your whole heart that you are called by God to this office, and do you rely in the performing of its duties upon the grace and help of the Holy Spirit?

Answer: I do; this is my belief.

Fourth: Do you promise to be faithful in the exercise of all private and personal duties which become you as a Christian and a minister of the gospel, as well as in all the duties of your office, endeavoring to adorn your profession of the gospel by a life of exemplary piety wherever you may be?

Answer: I do.

Fifth: Do you acknowledge the rightful authority of the Reformed Church in the United States, and do you promise to perform your office faithfully in it and to show all proper regard for its laws and ordinances, and render all suitable obedience to its government in the Lord?

Answer: I do acknowledge and promise it; may the Lord help me.

You, O Lord, have heard the confession and the oath of Your servant who looking to You, will accept the office of Minister of the Word of God. Consecrate him through the Holy Spirit to Your service and grant him grace and strength so that he may rightly divide the Word, may be an example in all things and may lead many souls into Your kingdom through Jesus Christ. Amen.

¶ Here the candidate shall be directed to kneel, the ministers and elders shall each lay their hands on his head, and the presiding minister shall say:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Head of the Church, and in reliance upon His help, we now ordain you to the holy ministry: to proclaim the gospel, to administer the sacraments, to maintain Christian discipline and order in the church, and to be an instrument of the Lord in saving immortal souls. May the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be and abide with you now and for ever. Amen.

¶ He shall rise, and the presiding minister shall say:

We offer you the right hand of fellowship to partake with us in this ministry.

¶ Each minister and elder present shall also offer the right hand of fellowship.

¶ When the new minister is to be installed at the same time as pastor of the congregation (or charge) in which he has been ordained, the Installation Service shall now proceed according to the form provided for that purpose. If there is no Installation Service, the presiding minister shall pray as follows:

PRAYER:

Almighty God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we praise You for the love You have manifested to Your people. Lord Jesus Christ, Prophet, High Priest and King, we thank You that You have purchased Your Church with Your own blood and have established it on Yourself, the Eternal Rock, so that the gates of hell will never prevail against it. We thank You that You have sustained this brother until now and have called him to be a shepherd and teacher in Your Church. Anoint him with Your Holy Spirit we pray, and make him to be a workman who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. O Holy Spirit, the Comforter Who leads into the truth, enlighten and lead him in all his ways so that his ministry may abound to the honor of God and the edification of the church. Sanctify his heart and mind in order that he may walk worthily in the gospel. And when his course is ended here below and his work finished, then let him enter into the joy of his Lord where the wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament, and those who turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. Now unto You, the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever. Amen.

¶ The service shall be concluded with this benediction:

Now the God of peace Who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

B. Installation of Ministers

¶ Immediately after the ordination of a new minister, if this is to take place on the same occasion, or in any other case after the sermon, the presiding minister shall address the congregation as follows:

DEARLY BELOVED IN THE LORD JESUS: You have called N_______, now present, to become your pastor. He has accepted your call. After full

inquiry and deliberation, the N_______ Classis, under whose supervision and care you stand, has resolved that the proposed pastoral relationship shall be

established. We are here now by the appointment and order of Classis to install him in the name of the Lord as the pastor of this charge.

¶ Here the pastor-elect shall present himself, and the presiding minister shall address him as follows:

DEARLY BELOVED BROTHER IN THE LORD: Since the pastoral office you have accepted was solemnly and divinely instituted by the Lord and Head of the Church, it is your solemn and important duty to exercise it faithfully in dependence on the Lord so that you may joyfully give an account of your stewardship. The tasks and duties imposed upon you in this office are clearly evident in the meaning of the names applied to those who minister in the Word and doctrine, such as: shepherd, bishop, teacher, steward. The Lord Himself says: “Go therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit; teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you: and, lo I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

The apostle Paul, deeply conscious of the importance and sacredness of this high calling, addressed those who are occupied with this work in this way: “I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and teaching.” Hold fast the faithful word as you have been taught, that you may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” “Be an example to the believers, in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity . . . Give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them; that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself, and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”

In agreement with this divine instruction, it is now your duty, dear brother, to give yourself entirely to the ministry of the Word and prayer, and to the administration of the sacraments. You are to instruct the youth and to lead the church over which the Holy Spirit has appointed you. You are called to shepherd this flock, and in conjunction with the elders and deacons to preserve discipline, order and peace in it for the comfort of the saints and the edification of the church. And now, if you will perform this holy task in the mind of Christ, the blessing of the Lord will rest upon you and this flock, and you will dwell together in peace and harmony.

BELOVED IN THE LORD, officers and members of this congregation (these congregations): you have just heard what important duties have been assigned to the one you have called as your pastor and teacher. Now listen to what the Word of God says to you, how you are to receive him and what your attitude toward him should be. “We urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.” “Remember those who rule over you, who have spoken the Word of God to you, whose faith follow, considering the outcome of their conduct.” “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those that must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.” “Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” “If we have sown spiritual things for you, is it a great thing if we reap your material things?”

From these divine instructions you see that you are to love, honor and obey in the Lord this servant of Christ. You are to submit to his doctrine, admonitions and corrections, and for his service in spiritual things you owe him his material necessities, so that he may devote himself entirely to the ministry of the Word without any cares about his support. Therefore receive him in the Lord, and assist him with counsel and prayer so that the church might be edified and the kingdom of Christ extended by your mutual labor.

¶ The presiding minister shall address this question to the pastor-elect:

And now, dear brother, I ask you in the presence of God and this congregation (these congregations), do you accept the oversight and care of this charge, will you faithfully and conscientiously perform the duties which rest upon you as pastor and teacher, and will you foster this fold in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ in accordance with your ordination vows?

Answer: I promise to do this by the grace and help of God.

¶ Then the presiding minister shall address this question to the con gregation:

BELOVED IN THE LORD: You have heard this solemn vow. I ask you as officers and members of this congregation (these congregations) in the presence of God: Do you receive this minister as your pastor and teacher, and do you promise to love and honor him, and to be obedient to him in the Lord?

Answer: We do.

¶ Now the presiding minister shall install the pastor-elect with these words:

On the basis of these mutual promises, and by the authority of the Honorable N– Classis, we install you, N–, as pastor and teacher of this congregation (these congregations), and we now assign this charge to your care and oversight in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

¶ The presiding minister shall call all of the ministers and elders present to come forward and extend the right hand of fellowship to the newly installed pastor.

Gracious God and heavenly Father, we thank You that You have established Your Church here on earth and that You have preserved it until the present time. We are thankful that You have blessed us with all spiritual gifts and heavenly benefits, and have established the office which proclaims reconciliation and Your infinite mercy. Be pleased to fill Your servant, whom You have placed over this flock, with the gifts of Your grace and Spirit so that he may fulfill his calling for the edification of Your saints and the conversion of sinners. O Lord, bless the members of this congregation with Your heavenly gifts in Christ Jesus. Grant that they may be diligent hearers and doers of Your Word, and make them fruitful in all good works to the glory of Your name. Bless the covenant now established between this shepherd and flock, and finally bring them and all of us into the fellowship of the redeemed in the kingdom of Your glory, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ The newly installed pastor shall pronounce the following or similar benediction:

Now the God of peace Who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

¶ The service shall be concluded with the singing of the Doxology.

C. Ordination and Installation of Elders and Deacons

¶ Those parts of the following form are to be used which fit the particular circumstances in each congregation concerning the number to be ordained or installed, or both.
¶ After the sermon the minister shall say:

DEARLY BELOVED IN THE LORD: This (These) person(s) has (have) been solemnly chosen and called by you, as a Christian congregation, to take part as elder(s) and deacon(s) in the care and service of the church. He (They) has (have) accepted your call. No one has come forward to urge any just objection to his (their) being placed in office. I therefore proceed, in the name of the Lord, to ordain him (those) who has (have) not been ordained previously, and to set each apart to his own office, to the work of the ministry among you.

PRAYER:

O God, You have appointed various offices in your Church by Your Holy Spirit; we pray that You will set apart this (these) Your servant(s) to the work to which You have called him (them) by the voice of Your people. We ask that You will bestow Your heavenly grace on him (them) in order that he (they) may be a good man (good men), full of the Holy Spirit and of wisdom, and may faithfully serve You in all things. O heavenly Father, grant this we pray, for the sake of Your dear Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

BELOVED BROTHER(S): Just as it is a great honor to bear office in the Lord’s house, so it is also a solemn trust, which no one should take upon himself rashly or lightly. For although your election has been by the free choice of your fellow members, the office(s) to which you have been called is (are) not of human origin or authority, but was (were) instituted by Christ Himself, Who has preserved it (them) in the Church to the present time. You are, therefore, to regard yourself (yourselves) not as the mere servant(s) of men, but as the servant(s) of Christ, appointed in His name and by His authority to the work entrusted to your care. From this you may see how much is entailed in your present induction into office, and how necessary it is that you should magnify your office, and give a high account of its duties as a service to be rendered to God, and not simply to men.

ELDERS are appointed to assist and support the minister of the Word in the general government of the church. In each congregation, they form, with the minister, a council in common for the spiritual supervision of the flock which is committed to their care. Accordingly, they are bound to take part in the work of the ministry, so far as it has to do with pastoral oversight and care. They are to be advisors and counsellors to the minister in the discharge of his holy office; they are to assist him as hands and eyes, acting with him and for him throughout the congregation. It is their duty to live before the flock in the way of Christian example, to watch over it in the Lord, to take an active interest in its spiritual welfare, to share the responsibility for its condition, and to be present in all circumstances with spiritual aid for its necessities and needs. By virtue of their office, it is their duty to visit the sick and afflicted, to instruct the ignorant, to admonish those who are straying, to warn the unruly, and to command and rebuke with authority in Christ’s name. Further­more, the whole discipline of the church belongs to them in conjunction with the pastor, as does its power of the keys, which is exercised both in the form of censure and in the form of restoration.

DEACONS are appointed to assist and support the pastor and elders in those services which apply to the material needs of the general household of faith. They have the honorable charge of caring for the poor and needy, and of making certain that the charities of the church are properly dispensed. They are to aid in securing funds necessary for the support of the church in its various activities. They are to labor among the people in making known to them the needs of the church, fostering the principle of stewardship, and in this way cultivating the spirit of liberal and cheerful giving. In discharging these duties, however, they must not lose sight of the true spiritual character of their office. For although the office of deacon may often be occupied with outward and temporal things, it nevertheless always remains a proper branch of the Christian ministry, and its purpose in all things can only be the eternal salvation of men in the world to come. It is for this reason, that in the New Testament so much stress is laid on the character and life of those who are called to participate in this work. They must be men of honest report, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, who may be able, both by word and example, to help advance the great purpose of the gospel, making their services to the material necessities of the poor the occasion and means of a still better benefit to their souls. The apostle Paul, writing on this subject in his first epistle to Timothy, expressly requires of deacons the same virtues which are qualifications for the office of elder.

¶ The minister shall now address these questions to the candidates:

And now, brother(s), having carefully considered the nature and design of the office(s) to which you have been called by the voice of this congre­gation, please answer the following questions:

First: Do you accept the call as coming to you from God, and are you willing to undertake the work and service it sets before you, in the name and for Answer: Yes.

Second: Do you believe that the Holy Scriptures, the Old and New Testaments, are the Word of God by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and

therefore are infallible and inerrant, and are the only and perfect rule of our Christian faith and life?

Answer: Yes.

Third: Do you honestly and in good conscience before the Lord declare that you believe and are persuaded that all the articles and points of doctrine

in the confessions of this Church, the Heidelberg Catechism, the Belgic Confession, and the Canons of Dordt, are in complete and accurate agreement with the Word of God; and do you promise to teach (deacons: “promote”) and defend the same in good faith and reject all doctrines conflicting therewith?

Answer: Yes.

Fourth: Do you promise to be faithful in the exercise of all private and personal duties which become you as a Christian and church officer,

endeavoring to adorn your profession of the gospel by a life of exemplary piety wherever you may be?

Answer: Yes.

Fifth: Do you promise to exercise your ministry, as elder(s) and deacon(s), among this people, with faithful diligence, according to what you have now declared to be the rule and measure of your faith, showing all proper regard for the lawful authority of the church, and taking heed to your own lives, so that you may adorn the gospel of God our Savior by word and practice answerable to the place you occupy in Christ’s house?

Answer: Yes.

¶ Then the presiding minister shall address this question to the con gregation:

BELOVED IN THE LORD: You have heard this (these) solemn vow(s). I ask you as the members of this congregation in the presence of God: Do you receive this (these) elder(s) and deacon(s) as your officers and do you promise to love and honor him (them), and to be obedient unto him (them) in the Lord?

Answer: We do.

¶ Here those who have not previously been ordained to the office in which they are now called to serve shall be ordained. They may be directed to kneel, and the minister and elders shall lay their right hands upon each one in succession. The minister shall say:

Take authority to execute the office of Elder (Deacon) in the church of God, which office I now solemnly commit unto you, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

¶ After the candidates have risen the minister shall install both those now ordained and those previously ordained, using the following form:

In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and by the authority belonging to me in His Church, I now install you in the charge and service to which you have been called by this congregation; and may the blessing of God Almighty, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, rest upon you, abide with you, and strengthen you in your ministry always with all might through the Spirit unto every good word and work. Amen.

¶ The other consistory members may now be called upon to give the right hand of fellowship to the newly installed officers.

PRAYER:

O Lord, our heavenly Father, You have been pleased of Your great goodness to call these Your servants to office and authority in Your church; send down upon them, we pray, Your Holy Spirit, by Whose power alone they can be made to fulfill the ministry now committed to them. Make them wise and faithful, humble, tender, modest, and yet bold, constant, patient, and persevering in their appointed work. May Your precepts be manifest in all their words and works, may they hold the testimony of a good conscience, and may they prove themselves good examples to all Your flock; to the glory of Your holy name, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ The service may then be concluded with this benediction and the singing of the Doxology.

Now the God of peace Who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

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