Ordination Service recalls years of sacrifice, work


By Woody Woodrick

Advocate Editor


Kevin Carter has a strong sense of legacy, so he’ll likely do some reflecting Sunday night.


Carter will be one of 17 clergy ordained at the Service of Ordination on the opening night of the 19th session of the Mississippi Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. The service begins at 6:30 p.m. at Christ United Methodist Church in Jackson. The conference runs through June 13.


“It’s not only about me, but the whole historical family I come from,” said Carter, who will be ordained an elder in full connection. “We’ve not had the opportunity for a lot of clergy to come out of my home church.”


Carter believes he is the second elder to come out of Sweet Pilgrim UMC in Shubuta. The Rev. James McRee also came from Sweet Pilgrim.


Carter said other emotions will also come up during the service, particularly thoughts of his parents, who died before he could become an elder. His father died in 2000 and his mother passed away earlier this year.


Also, Carter will feel a sense of accomplishment. Carter was working as machinist in Bay Springs and serving as a part-time local pastor when he heard the call to enter full-time ministry. He enrolled at West Alabama University and served two churches in the Meridian area while getting his undergraduate degree. He served for nine more years before enrolling at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta to earn his Master of Divinity. As a seminarian, Carter continued to serve his two churches in Meridian, commuting to Mississippi each weekend. He now pastors Evergreen UMC in Brandon.


“It’s amazing. I know it’s here,” Carter said, “but it’s still overwhelming because of all that’s gone into it; the long nights of study and not really being able to do what you want to do.


“My ministry is everything. I had to sacrifice, but I’m grateful for the sacrifice. I love what I do.”


The Service of Ordination has traditionally been held on the conference’s final night, but with a theme of “Arise! Shine! Rejoice!” that celebrates ministry, organizers decided to open with ordination and close the conference with the commissioning service.


“Having the ordination Sunday night gives us the start that I think we need for Annual Conference, not just this year but I would like to see it every year,” said the Rev. Sheila Cumbest, director of Ministerial Services. “It will give us a chance to celebrate what the conference is called to do and that is to provide called servant leaders.”


The combination of commissioning and sending forth is a natural one, Cumbest believes. “I certainly hope that moving the commissioning service to the last will truly send us all forth to live faithfully into what God has called us to. I think it will be extremely meaningful,” Cumbest said.


Casteel agreed. “We felt like what better way to open and close the conference since we’re celebrating ministry,” said the Rev. Steve Casteel, director of Connectional Ministries.


Fifteen of those being ordained will become elders in full connection, and two are being ordained deacon in full connection, one as a courtesy ordination. Also, one person will have orders recognized. Recognition of orders permits clergy from another denomination to become United Methodist, while a courtesy ordination means the ordinand will be a member of another annual conference.


“This group of persons has really become a class that has covenanted together. I think the longer we live into the RIM (Residency in Ministry) process designed by the Board of Ordained Ministry the more we see the benefits of it,” said Cumbest. “I've had numerous persons in this class tell me what a difference it has made to be a part of it.”