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Do you, Chelwood CRC, take this minister to have and hold from this day forward?  And do you, the new minister take this church to have and hold from this day forward?

Quick--what do installation/ordination services have in common with weddings? Both are celebrated with reverence and exuberance.  Both are centered around human promises that reflect the love and promises of God.  Both are in season now!  As wedding season fades, installation/ordination season peaks as Candidates are called and as other ministers take advantage of summer breaks to move their families.

Chelwood CRC in Albuquerque is thanking God for sending them a new minister.  Now they are planning the Installation service and want to celebrate the occasion with reverence and exuberance. 

There are standard services and forms for Ordination/Installation, but as with weddings, the participants often want to put their own creative spin on the event while maintaining the best of traditions. Let’s help Chelwood and other churches by remembering some of the best worship expressions of installation and ordination services. 

Here are a few ideas to start:

#1. As in weddings, gifts can play an important role in installation and ordination services.

First CRC in Denver has had the joyous privilege of ordaining five ministers in the past five years.  One of our traditions is to present the ordinand with a gift that reflects the role and office. 

  • Joel Schreurs received several ceremonial gifts including a new pair of shoes --his wife said he needed them!-- representing the task of walking in the lives of the congregation.   
  • Matthew Lanser was leaving for the mission field so he received a clock that displayed time for multiple places in the world including Nigeria, Denver, and other places that support them. 
  • We ordained Samantha and Nate DeJong-McCarron who are planting a church in Denver so they were given a wagon with planting equipment, seeds and bulbs. 
  • A talented seamstress in the congregation made me a beautiful stole using some of my favorite fabrics, including some that represented places in the world that have shaped my life.  

Other creative ideas for gifts can be found in this article

#2. Calling plays a significant part in connecting churches and pastors.  One way to reflect the biblical tradition of calling is to use incidents of God calling Bible characters in the liturgy.  Here’s a start, but don’t stop here.  Think of other places in scripture that might apply more directly to the specific calling of the person being ordained or installed.

The voice of the Lord came to Samuel:

And he replied, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." (1 Sam. 3:10)

The voice of the Lord said to Isaiah: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for me?"

And he replied, "Here am I. Send me."  (Arts 8:30-31)

This article from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship has several ideas for services.  See Service 4 for more of the calling liturgy. 

#3.  Songs:  What songs have you heard that would be great for these services?  We’ve used the lyrics of Come Celebrate the Call of God with the tune ELLACOMBE.  Another favorite is Breathe On Me, Breathe of God, Psalter Hymnal #420. 

What do you remember of ordination services at your church?  Were they both solemn and celebrating?  


Changing the pronouns to the plural makes "Come, Celebrate the Call of God" appropriate for the ordination and installation of deacons and elders, too, I think. But I must admit that I do not understand the last four lines of the last verse...  What does the "flag of faith" defeat above? The "powers of death" from two lines up? And is it the "deepest gladness" of the one being ordained that "meets the hunger of the world?" Meets as in encounters or as in fills? I'm a little confused. =/

Thanks in advance for clarifying. ...And thank you, Joy, for this insightful and helpful article!


Dear Stan,

Thanks for noticing those strange lyrics.  I had forgotten that we struggled with them also, so we wrote lyrics that made more sense.  Here's what we did to adjust the text for the delightful service ordaining husband and wife pastors Nate and Sam DeJong-McCarron.  (You can see how well your idea of changing to plural works out!)

To answer your question, I don't know for sure what Brian Wren, the lyricist, had in mind with the "flag of faith" and "powers of death," but the context seemed to be a prayer for protection from the Evil One coupled with a prayer for courage to proclaim the gospel to a hurting world.  

Unfortunately, we lost the allusion to Frederick Buechner's famous quote, "The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet." But we felt it made more sense to the congregation.  

Come, celebrate the call of God that wakens and renews,

And chooses from us, for our good, the bringers of good news.

The Spirit’s blessing all ordains to show what God has done,

Yet brings to focus and contains the many in the one.


Two chosen ones today reply, and fit and ready stand.

Their callings now we recognize with prayer and loving hands.

These servant leaders, truthful friends, are committed to your word,

Proclaiming forth in Jesus name the Gospel to the world.


Great Spirit, give them word and breath in Christ to live and speak,

And shield them from the deadly powers that seek to make them weak,

Grant them true faith, and courage strong to stand against the foe

Pour out your grace and truth and light through them where’re they go. 

This is great! Now I'm more eager to recommend we use this hymn when we ordain our new deacons and elders in a couple weeks. The allusion to Frederick Buechner is cool now that you've explained it to me, but I imagine it would leave a lot of people unfamiliar with his writing scratching their heads. Thank you, Joy, for your reply!

=) Stan

Next week, I will be entering another term of eldership, my third in this church, my fifth term in all.   When I think of an installation or ordination service, I do not think of this as an ordination service for myself, but rather a re-instatement, a re-installation, going back on active duty, officially as opposed to unofficially.  But for another younger person who will be a new elder, who will be ordained, I would like some special consideration;  a laying on of hands of previous elders, a special prayer perhaps by several elders;  maybe a song of his choice.   Maybe a special bible passage read, chosen by him.  A special blessing conveyed by the other elders.  That would make his ordination meaningful. 

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