Close Up: Commissioning Class of 2015
Being commissioned, marked by the laying-on of hands in a special ceremony, is one of the highlights of each Annual Conference for both the individual elders and Bishop Janice R. Huie. It signifies that the church affirms and continues its ministry through these candidates who commit to living and proclaiming the gospel. Board of Ministry Candidacy Manager Deann Saxton says, “The commissioning class of 2015 is an amazing group of people who have a passion for ministry and hope to see change in the lives of those God puts in their path. I know each has grown in their ministry and will do great things for God.”
This annual milestone is an important role for the conference board of ordained ministry that recruits, nurtures, and supports those preparing for licensed or ordained ministry, and evaluates whether or not candidates have the gifts for ministry and are ready to serve. According to Deann, the commissioning class of 2015 was 23 members strong and represented a wide range of ages from early 20s to late 50s, with an average age of 34.
Several of them share their thoughts as they step into their next roles in ministry:
Q. Now that you have been commissioned, what is it that you look forward to the most?
- Rev. Heather Gates, Moody Memorial UMC: To be honest, I haven’t really gotten used to the title, but I look forward to living into it over these next two years. The residency time seems to be such a great mixture of continued learning and establishing our own pastoral authority and identity. It has meant so much to see how the students that I serve have embraced and encouraged me as their pastor.
- Rev. Daniel Childs, Lakewood UMC: Being a new clergyperson is exciting because our presence is a reminder to the church that God is busy. God is raising up new leaders, calling new people into the Body, and revealing the kingdom around us. I'm excited to witness to the work of the living God as I go about the ministries of Word, Sacrament, Order and Service.
- Rev. Cindy Riddick, Bay Harbour UMC: As a newly commissioned clergy, I look forward to growing into that role as part of church and community life. The ordination journey is long and has been difficult at times. I would not have pursued this calling if I were unsure that God had called me into it. So, it’s exciting to see my name preceded by the Reverend title—a visible reminder that I have stepped out of the world of laity and into the clergy world. I am looking forward to learning and growing as a clergyperson as I serve God and my church community in this new way.
- Rev. Raegan Seaton, St. Mark’s UMC, Baytown: I am looking forward to building relationships and seeing where God is at work in my new appointment.
- Rev. Cameron Supak, Atascocita UMC: I look forward to coming into work each day and doing something that I really enjoy. I like the fact that every day is different, that no two are the same. In a sense I look forward to doing what I was created by God to do. However much I enjoyed being in seminary, it is great to finally be in ministry full time. I have already had so much fun in the few short weeks that I have been in ministry and I look forward to seeing what God had in store for my life. I'm very blessed to be where I am.
- Rev. Kimberly Carney, Wesley FUMC, Clute: Now that I am commissioned, I most look forward to being able to share my gifts for ministry with more people in my surrounding community. I hope that the new formed friendships and collegiate relationships gained through the residency process will help me become a more effective pastor through the discussion, service, and experiencing this process with others.
- Rev. Lindsay Smith, St. Stephen's UMC: With this position and the greater authority given to me through commissioning, I am ready to step fully into my ministry and follow where God leads. I look forward to ministering to the people in my neighborhood and my church as I begin to live out my calling as a deacon.
- Rev. Danny Yang: St. Paul’s UMC, Houston: Frankly and hopefully…ordination.
- Rev. Paul Richards, Holy Covenant UMC, Katy: I have heard, from those in the commissioning class ahead of me, that ministry is both incredible and exhausting. I look forward to the basic task of being with people on the journey of faith.
- Rev. William Lucas, West University UMC: I’m looking forward to serving alongside my new and incredibly active congregation at West U and looking for new ways God is calling the church to serve West U, Houston, and the world. At the same time, I’m interested in growing my faith and learning what I can from the congregation and staff.
Q. What excites you most about this season of ministry?
- Rev. Trey Comstock, CrossRoads UMC: This season of ministry is a chance to work hard and build relationships, while continuing to build our ministry skill set. All stages of ministry involve learning, but being a Provisional Elder is a beautiful stage where learning is, in some ways, still at the forefront.
- Rev. Cameron Supak: One of the things that excited me most about this season of ministry is the fact that the sky is the limit. New beginnings are always so much fun because they grant opportunities to start on a new journey with God! God has blessed me with a wonderful church and opportunities to serve him. I am excited to see where God is moving in my ministry and how I will be a part of that story.
- Rev. Raegan Seaton: This is a season of new beginnings and I'm excited about all the possibilities in front of me.
- Rev. Cindy Riddick: Becoming clergy is thrilling and daunting at the same time. I am so pleased that I don’t have to figure it out on my own. As I step into the clergy role both in my local church and the conference, I can try new things and take on new responsibilities surrounded by lay people and clergy brothers and sisters who will guide me along the way.
- Rev. Danny Yang: I'm excited about two intense years of feedback from the lay consultation team, and how God may stretch me through the growth plan prescribed by the residency effectiveness team.
- Rev. Lindsay Smith, St. Stephen's UMC: I feel like it is finally time to get out there and do what I know God has called me to do. While I will continue to learn and grow, the time for writing scholarly papers and travelling to and from seminary is done. It is now time to take action and step out on faith. It is time to follow God into the margins of society and share God's love.
- Rev. Kimberly Carney: The most exciting part of this season of ministry is the opportunity to get to know many more people as ministers of the gospel and colleagues in ministry. I fully recognize that ministry can be very lonely at times and making relationships with others is a very important part of ministry. I am excited to learn more about the opportunities offered to me through the connectional ministry. In my local congregation and placement, I am excited to focus on the missional aspect of the church in the community. Helping my congregation look for, realize, seek out, and fulfill opportunities for the mission of the church within the walls of the church building and in the surrounding areas is something that I am eagerly awaiting.
- Rev. Paul Richards: I am excited to have a great opportunity to learn from a couple of experienced pastors. It is such a gift to be mentored and I celebrate it as a great joy.
- Rev. William Lucas: I’m particularly excited to learn all that I can about both pastoral ministry and my calling from a successful senior pastor, a growing church, and a group of friends and mentors in my commissioning covenant group.
- Rev. Daniel Childs: I'm excited about this season of my ministry because I know that I will be learning so much about what it means to practice faithfully the ministry of an Elder. This is a season in which I will be cultivating the kind of habits and routines that can sustain a lifetime of ministry. So I pray the Holy Spirit will be at work in this foundational period, constantly equipping me for the work to which I am called.
Q. What is your greatest hope for the Texas Annual Conference?
- Rev. Cindy Riddick: My greatest hope for the Texas Annual Conference is that the witness of the churches in our conference be so real, so authentic, so compelling that those who do not yet know the love and grace of Jesus Christ might respond to the good news of Christ with a faith of their own.
- Rev. Heather Gates: My greatest hope for the Conference is that it continues to be a place that nurtures those who feel called into full time ministry and celebrates those who are doing their ministry outside of the church – helping people to understand how God can use them and empowering them to serve is such an important and powerful task.
- Rev. Amy Walker, Wesley UMC Nederland: Being a youth director for over 17 years, I am extremely passionate about our young people and I am an advocate for children/youth directors and youth pastors. I hope to see more support into the one place all of our children and youth attend every summer and winter, Lakeview United Methodist Conference Center. All of us, across the conference, have our own special memories of Lakeview and of camp when we were younger. I know we want our young people to continue to have those memories and Spirit-led experiences where we did and still do. It would be amazing to see churches, districts, and the conference utilizing Lakeview's facilities more often through cabinet meetings, annual conference, and retreats throughout the conference. By investing in the young, we should invest in our children/youth directors and our youth pastors in an intentional way. They are the people that have direct connections with these children and youth. It would be great to see opportunities for these adults to be able to be connected and supported. I would love to see the Texas Annual Conference take action in creating worship services that recognize the deaf culture as a culture that wants and deserves their place in worship, not just through our inspiring interpreters throughout the conference, but through the creation of services that are specifically tailored to the culture of the deaf.
- Rev. William Lucas: My greatest hope for the annual conference is seen in the daily work of pastors and laity across the conference. We have so many people and churches dedicating themselves to making disciples, serving our neighbors, participating in God’s work of building his Kingdom, and “spreading scriptural holiness over the land.” This is the work of the Gospel, the work Christ has commissioned his Church to do, and seeing members of the Texas Annual Conference doing this gives me great hope for our future.
- Rev. Daniel Childs: I hope our Conference will continue to focus on forming disciples in the Wesleyan way, mining the riches of our tradition as we prayerfully discern the leading of God the Spirit.
- Rev. Kimberly Carney: My greatest hope for the Texas Annual Conference is that we are able to witness to the world through our words and deeds the love of Jesus Christ. If we, as an Annual Conference, can work together in as many ways as possible to let ALL persons feel welcome in our sanctuaries, Bible studies, outreach ministries and our hearts, I truly believe we will all be blessed in ways we have never been before. Leaning on the experiences, training, gifts, and talents of one another will enable the Texas Annual Conference to reflect the love and light of Christ into a world that for many is dark and lonely.
- Rev. Danny Yang: The ability of our connection to bring diverse people together and let the Holy Spirit surprise us in our common work for God’s kingdom.
- Rev. Raegan Seaton: My greatest hope for the TAC is that we will be faithful to what God has called us to do here in Texas and throughout the world.
- Rev. Lindsay Smith: My greatest hope for the Texas Annual Conference is that we will continue to make disciples for Jesus Christ, and through this, change the communities around us. My greatest hope is that we will be a part of the coming of God's kingdom, and that we would start living in that kingdom here and now. I desire that every member of every United Methodist Church in our conference would build relationships outside their walls, see and meet needs in their communities, and step beyond ourselves as we follow our Savior.