My Decision

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Here is the letter I sent to the Board of Ordained Ministry:

I embarked upon the candidacy process believing that I was to live out that call as an ordained elder. As I have gone through the process of candidacy, seminary, then probationary/residency I have learned and grown in ways I would have never imagined. I now understand faith and life as well as myself differently than I did when I began. My theology has moved from one of “conversion evangelism” to one of “restorative loving acts,” of trying to live in such a way that we live out the portions of the Lord’s Prayer where we ask that God’s Kingdom come and will be done on Earth as in Heaven. With my theological shift a shift has also come in my understanding of my calling. As I approached elder ordination I began to wonder if I were on the wrong track, if I should actually move to the Deacon process. But, I wasn’t sure if that was indeed what I was to be doing. Therefore, I asked for a leave of absence. I needed some time to work through some issues of grief over my father’s death, something that had been difficult for me to do while pastoring churches, and I needed some time to discern my particular call to ministry. I have found that both of these processes are slow journeys that take place over a lifetime. At the same time both journeys have markers, moments wherein there has sufficient movement to move forward with confidence.

Over the past year I have been working through the process previously outlined. I have been meeting with Sheri Fergueson, working with my leave discernment peer group, and engaging in prayerful discernment personally. At this point there is a general consensus that I have made great headway in both processes. I have been called to ministry. But, my calling appears to exist outside the bounds of the Deacon or Elder categories. It appears to be a pastoral position that also has rhythms of missional service intertwined. It appears to be some sort of mixture of the two. Therefore question becomes, what kind of ministry does my calling fit, and in what kind of setting can that calling be lived out? Since my calling does not appear to lend itself exclusively toward the ordination of a Deacon or an Elder, at this time I will be withdrawing from the process. My hope is that this will enable me to continue to find further clarity in pursuing my calling, finding the right settings in which I can live it out. Once I have found sufficient clarity, should there be settings in which my call can faithfully be lived out, and if you would permit, I would hope to return to the ordination process with the clarity and confidence necessary to faithfully live out such a divine privilege.

Thank you for the growth I have experienced in this process and your continued patience with me as I attempt to understand the invitation God has upon my life.

Grace and Peace,

Jonathan Herston

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