All Are Welcome

Jul 27, 2018


The dictionary definition of "ordain" is precise: "To invest officially (as by the laying on of hands) with ministerial or priestly authority." In the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, that tradition continues to this day. 



I had the honor of witnessing a historic ordination recently at St. John's Lutheran Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. Pastor Preston Fields, who recently accepted a call to serve Salem Lutheran Church in Sycamore, would be formally ordained there. Many from his family, as well as from the family of his husband, Wesley Lyons, were there to support and take pride in this occasion. 

The service began with one of my favorite processional hymns --"All Are Welcome."  The hymn's title echoes -- word for word -- the small sign placed at the driveway entrance to Salem. Twice at important church meetings, I have reminded the congregation that when I pass by the sign each Sunday, I DON'T see an asterisk attached to the message.   

The service would be solemn and joyous, funny and thought-provoking, uplifting and contemplative. Could the world be about to turn, as another hymn from the service asked? One thing is certain: As he returns to Salem as a fully-ordained pastor, we welcome and look forward to his commitment, leadership, concern, and love that he has already shown to our congregation. 


I'm Jim Kline, and that is my perspective.