Ordained to Serve

“(Dec. 13, 1899). G. M. Hammond, Mrs. R. L. Harris, and E. J. Sheeks, all members of this congregation, applied for ordination. Each one was examined as to their eligibility for ordination and stood the examination and have proven themselves as faithful ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ . . .

 

“Dec. 14, nine o’clock a.m. . . . After singing and praying Bro. Ira H. Russel read Eph. 5:1–21 and made an earnest spiritual talk admonishing each one to live up to the standard contained in this chapter. . . . Bro. Russel then read the qualifications of a Bishop or Elder in 1 Tim. 3:1–7, Tit. 1:5–9. He also read Acts 13:1–13 and by prayer and laying on of hands Bro. Hammond, Sisters Harris and Sheeks were ordained and set apart for the work whereunto the Holy Ghost had called them.”

 

If one can judge an event in terms of its consequences, then this simple ceremony of ordination abounds in apostolic significance. First, no distinction was made between male and female, for the New Testament Church of Christ ( a parent body of the Church of the Nazarene) had earlier decided that if a woman “has the right to stand side by side with man in soul-saving work” then she is “entitled to all the rights and privileges of the gospel,” including the right of ordination.

 

Even more important were the three individual records of ministry that took shape after this event. George Hammond was active in evangelism and pastoral care until 1948, including pastorates at Little Rock First, Kansas City First, Grace Church (Nashville), and Albuquerque First. E. J. Sheeks, an energetic evangelist and church planter, devoted over 12 years to an itinerant ministry in which she pastored three or four churches simultaneously. District secretary of the Arkansas and then the Dallas districts, she ended 30 years of pastoral ministry by joining the theological faculty of Bresee College and teaching until 1939. Mrs. Harris, better known later as Mary Lee Cagle, was also active in evangelism and home missions ministry until the mid-1930s and served several districts as the elected district evangelist.

 

Ordination to the gospel ministry: not just a right, but a responsibility to serve. (Sources: “Church Book” of the New Testament Church of Christ, Milan, Tenn.; photos from the E. J. Sheeks Collection and the R. B. and Donie Mitchum Collection.)

 

Ingersol, S. (November, 1986). Nazarene Roots; Ordained to Serve, Herald of Holiness, 9.

 

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