By Jessica Brodie
GREENVILLE—Bishop Mildred Hines, resident bishop of the South Atlantic Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, preached the ordination service Monday night, June 4, bringing a word on “From God’s Lips to Yours.”
It was a service that included representatives from the AME Zion, AME and Christian Methodist Episcopal churches as well as The United Methodist Church, a time of historical significance.
Recognizing the representatives from the denominations gathered, South Carolina UMC Resident Bishop Jonathan Holston thanked them for coming together to witness the ordination and commissioning service and hear remarks from Hines.
“As we celebrate 50 years of The United Methodist Church, we remember we were separated because of issues around race,” Holston said. “What a wonder for us to come together tonight in the sharing our worship together as one body in Christ.”
In a message drawing from Jeremiah 1:4-9, Hines lifted up the beautiful mystery of how God empowers us despite our objections, fears and weaknesses.
Jeremiah had plenty of excuses for God as to why he could not be His prophet—his youth, his fear, his inability to speak. But God wasn’t having it, Hines said.
“It’s interesting to look at the text and see God’s response,” Hines said. “He speaks to Jeremiah and says, ‘I don’t want to hear that.’ I can almost visualize God saying, ‘Go back and try something else.’”
After all, as the Lord told Jeremiah, “I know you.”
Even before Jeremiah was formed in his mother’s womb, God said, “I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations.”
Hines reminded the body that the term “know” means “to go into.”
“What God is saying to Jeremiah was ‘I was in you! Before you were born, I was in you,’” Hines said. “It’s not recorded, but you can read in between the lines.”
Despite Jeremiah’s protests, despite his insistence that he was too young, too unworthy, God just shook His head and wouldn’t accept Jeremiah’s excuse, but instead pledged that not only is He always with Jeremiah, but he will also put His holy words into Jeremiah’s mouth. He will make certain Jeremiah is worthy of the call.
Hines told the ordinands, “If the truth be told, all of us, if we remember our call, we came up with excuses why we shouldn’t answer.”
See, excuses don’t measure up to the call. God knows, Hines said. God equips.
But more than that, she said, is how this Scripture ties so neatly into the concept of being born again.
As she said, “God knew us before we were shaped in our mother’s womb, and then we were born into sin. And being born into sin, we took on the form of sin. Instead of being full of God, full of the spirit of God, we became sin-formed. We became filled with sin just because we were born.”
By being born again—by allowing God to touch us, to give us the words, deliver us, loosen us from our fear, pain, unworthiness and sin—we are set free. We instantly become worthy and able.
“I want to leave you tonight with this: When God speaks, puts words in your mouth, you don’t have to be afraid of anyone,” Hines said to applause and amens. “You can do it because God is in you. And not only is God in us, God is with us.”
Twenty-nine men and women were commissioned or ordained during the service. Commissioned as provisional elders: Kenneth David Freeman, Tammy Nicole Grey, Steven Moore McNeal, Cynthia Wolfe Muncie, Sammy Omar Pazi, Pamela Denise Richardson, Justin Lee Ritter, Frances Hillary Taylor, Brenda Joyce Thomas, Lisa Montque Way, Sheri Yvette-Base White, Wade Anthony Wyatt Sr. and Cheryl Elaine Yates.
Ordained as elders in full connection: Anthony Griffith Carosiello, Jeffrey Weldon Childress, Shawna Michelle Darnall, LaTonya Monique Dash, Eleanora Coaxum Ellington, Brandon Lee Fulmer, Katherine Marie Haselden, Jon August Hoin, James Stewart McDowell, Brian Edward Preveaux, Sara Elizabeth Relaford, Edward Tyler Strange, Sylvia Freeman Watson, James Timothy Whited, William McClary Wrighten and LaShelia Mack Wyatt.
Also presented were Beverly CroweTipton and Kyu-Seok Shin for recognition of orders in the United Methodist Church.
Earlier Monday, the following were licensed as local pastors: Charles Martin Adams, James Scott Allen, William David Altman, Richard Charles Andrews, Joan Kristine Bergmann, Herman Alexander Black, Henry Lewis Brooks, James Daniel Curran, John Edward Fahrney, Sh’kur Marquis Rashard Francis, Andre Lemont Gary, Sherman Jerome Green, Paul Vincent Lawton, Corinthia Gee Mack, Jonathan Scott Matthews, James Roscoe McDowell, William Jack McElveen, Karen Fisk McElveen, Edward Roderick McKnight, Dishawn Tyneil Muldrow, Jeremiah Forshee Page, Woongchul Daniel Ra, Darrell Ware Ricketts, James Brunson Rogers, Cynthia Anne Rumsey, Jerry Wayne Shaw, Marvis Lavern Stewart and Brian Lee Underwood.
Hines is the first and only female bishop in the AME Zion church.
The Advent UMC Chancel Choir provided music. Christopher Nash was organist, and Catherine and Nance and Rosemary Hughes served as song leaders. Greg Campbell was organist and interim choir director, and Rick Smith was accompanist and interim choir co-director.
A Bible presented to each provisional elder and a stole presented to each full elder were gifts from the candidate’s home church or charge.