A move to ordain people directly to the priesthood died in the House of Bishops late last week but the Standing Commission on Ministry Development (SCMD) still plans to bring substantial changes to the Church’s ordination canons to the Convention.
“Direct ordination is not something that they’re ready to embrace,” said Bishop and SCMD member James Kelsey, describing the House of Bishops’ reaction Friday to Resolution C019 from Kansas, which the commission used to gauge the bishops’ mood. People who become priests are now first ordained to what is called the transitional diaconate and spend between six months and a year in that order before being ordained a priest. The commission work had said that ministry is not cumulative or layered but that people should be ordained directly to the order of their calling.
It was clear, Kelsey added, that the bishops were not willing to give dioceses the option of direct ordination either.
“I am grateful to have had serious discussion on a church-wide basis of this,” he said. The issue has come to Convention before and will again, he predicted. “Each time there seems to be a growing understanding of the implications and the acceptance by many of the advantages of this.”
Bishop and commission chair John Croneberger said the commission stands by the other changes in the canons. “These are opportunities to reflect an understanding of ministry that is grounded in baptism and I think that’s pretty exciting,” he said.
The SCMD continues its Title III editing work at a 7:30 hearing this morning. Looming is a proposal to eliminate Canon 9 which governs locally trained priests and limits their jurisdiction. The commission has proposed greater flexibility in training and forming of all priests, and then ordaining priests whose ministry would be canonically allowed throughout the church.