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Liturgical Customary for a Celebration of New Ministry

Guiding Principles

  • We celebrate two realities: a new clergyperson and the ongoing ministry of the people of God called to be a particular faith community
  • We highlight the beginnings of a vision for shared ministry in the years to come.
  • We gather the larger faith community as an expression of our unity in God, each other, and in Jesus Christ.
  • We feast! The liturgy can be glorious, music-filled, engaging many people (including other local clergy and community leaders who may not be members of your congregation), and welcoming and feeding others at a reception after the liturgy.

Scheduling the Liturgy

Sunday afternoons are a great time because other faith communities can more easily join us. While the Celebration of New Ministry will be the principal liturgy of the day, the morning schedule can be changed or maintained based upon your judgment. That said, Celebrations of the New Ministry do not need to happen on Sundays. Saturdays and weekday evenings are also appropriate.

Liturgical & Administrative Notes and Requests

  • The Bishop presides and preaches. If you have a guest preacher in mind please contact Bishop Brown.
  • The Litany for the Mission of the Church, found in the Book of Occasional Services, (p. 246-248) is preferred over the Litany for Ordinations.
  • The Bishop will bring a Certificate documenting your new ministry role.
  • Invite local media to attend. Contact our Director of Communications, Susan Sherill Axelrod, for any help with engaging media. The Bishop is happy to join you and your lay leaders to meet or talk with local reporters.
  • Encourage parishioners to take photographs; please share them with us!
  • Fill out the Eucharist Planning Worksheet as soon as you can.
  • Please invite your Episcopal, ecumenical, and interfaith colleagues. All are invited to vest and join the entrance procession, as you determine, or not. Generally, clergy don’t need to have up-front seating, and generally they don’t need to join the retiring procession.

The new clergyperson, along with any lay leaders charged with worship planning, is responsible for choosing the following:

  • The readings and liturgical color
  • The Eucharistic prayer (from Enriching Our Worship or the Prayer Book)
  • All music and hymns.
  • Ministers in the liturgy, the readers, litanist, deacon, presenters of the symbols, Eucharistic ministers, et cetera
  • People who will present the symbols of office.
  • Bidding the Peace during the liturgy
  • Noting in the leaflet that the offering will be given to the church of its discretionary fund.

The Presentation of the Symbols of Ministry

In addition to receiving symbols of your office the new priest may also give symbols to the congregation. It is appropriate for you to add symbolic presentations to this section of the liturgy. For example, various new clergy have decided to formally present to the congregation such items as:

  • A seedling tree, to be planted on the grounds of the church.
  • A list of congregation members, with a vow to embrace them all.
  • A set of Church School materials, to use in forming all members.
  •  A cane or magnifying glass, to symbolize welcome for people with disabilities.
  • A book of Spiritual Reading, to urge the study of the same.
  • A map of the local area, with a promise to care for all those in the area.
  • Toys for the church nursery to acknowledge our care for all ages.
  • Use your imagination, bearing in mind the fine line between creativity and silliness.

Preparing and Sending Invitations

Please draft an invite to share and send your invitation to [email protected], and we will send it to our list and include it on the website and in newsletters. Lauralee Raymond can help with a draft invite. We have samples we can send you. Please don’t hesitate to contact her.

The Reception

Remember that many people will have traveled some distance to be with you. An extravagant reception is not necessary, but ample amounts of food and healthy choices are appreciated by all. Serving alcoholic beverages is discouraged, especially if young people are present, and because people will be driving. If you and your congregation choose to serve alcohol it’s imperative that you adhere to the diocesan alcohol use policy. During the reception, any other gifts the congregation wishes to give to the new (stoles, photos of the church, etc.) may be presented.