Ordination to the Gospel Ministry

After just over a half-year as Pastor of the Second Alfred Seventh Day Baptist Church, the congregation voted to “Call their Pastor to Ordination.” So, on August 11th and 12th, 1939 the Services of Ordination on Sabbath Eve, Sabbath morning and Sabbath afternoon moved me through a spiritual experience that has given my life direction and meaning from that time on.

My good friend, Pastor Harley Sutton of Little Genesee led the Worship Sabbath Eve in which I presented Statements of my Christian Experience and my Christian Beliefs. Following my statements, the Ordination Council “examined” me and voted to continue with my Ordination.

The following is my Statement of Christian Belief: (Each article was prefaced by reading that belief from the Statement of Belief of Seventh Day Baptists–to which I heartily subscribed.)

GOD – I believe we may discover and know God, and find Him sufficient for our every need, as we come to Him in honest faith and humble, thoughtful prayer. I am awed by the mystery and the majesty of God whose plans transcend all time and whose creation leaves man in wonder and amazement. I am impressed by the Law of God and I believe God uses His Law as a manifestation of his love to mankind.

JESUS CHRIST – I believe Jesus Christ is the Son of God and that He serves as the true example of God’s plan for all men. I believe the ruling principle of Christ’s life on earth was perfect love and that, as love never dies, Jesus can never die. I believe the power of God’s love, through Christ, is as strong for men today who will follow Christ, as it ever was. The complete sacrifice of self that Jesus made on the cross I believe is the supreme example that men of all time need for salvation.

THE HOLY SPIRIT – I believe that God has the power to enter into the life of men and that the continued presence of God with men is what we know as the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the all pervading presence and force which God in love uses to bring men unto Him. The Holy Spirit, I believe, becomes active in life as men seek after God and attempt to do His will.

THE BIBLE – I believe the Bible is our greatest reservoir of spiritual truth; that it contains the highest and the best that man has discovered in his search for truth; and that it witnesses to the capacity of man to grow in God’s grace to higher spiritual levels. The Bible, I believe, serves as no other book can to lead men into the way of eternal life and to show us the principles upon which true spirituality must be based. I believe we have yet to come into the full understanding and knowledge that God has for us in the Bible and that if man is to progress toward the good in any phase of his life it must be as he discovers and uses the principles of life that flow out of the Scriptures.

MAN – I believe that man, as the noblest creation of God, has unlimited capacity for growth toward the goodness of God. I believe that God has given man a free will, with the power of choice between good and bad in order that man may grow toward the perfect love of God. I believe that good has no virtue in itself except as man chooses it through the strength of his own will.

I believe that man may leave God out of his life, to his own destruction, but that God has the power and the desire to save every man through his infinite grace who will choose to know and serve Him.

SIN AND SALVATION – I believe that sin is any act or condition whereby we fall short of God’s purpose and goal for us. I believe that sin in all it forms is the result of man’s selfishness, and we are all so entangled in the snares of selfishness in every field of our existence that only through the unmerited favor and the forgiveness of God may we find salvation. I believe our salvation depends upon our confession of sinfulness and our active faith that love and truth can bring us into fellowship with God. I believe that God is interested in the soul and the salvation of every individual and that He has given His Son in sacrificial love upon the cross in order that men may catch the spirit of selflessness which alone can save us. Salvation, to me, is not a point at which I have arrived but a condition of life which I must constantly strive to achieve. I believe that as we come more and more into fellowship with God by revolting against all that is not high and true in our lives, and by seeking all that is good and strong and right we come into a knowledge and feeling of salvation. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, ever stands as the example we must follow as we seek salvation.

ETERNAL LIFE – I believe that God is infinite and that his love for man has no end in time. I believe that God’s final aim is to accomplish perfect and complete and universal fellowship of love with all men for all eternity. believe the Kingdom of God is with us in this life now in so far as we have caught the spirit of God as revealed in Christ. As truth and love can never die, so I believe that man, a he grows in fellowship with God, will have eternal life. I believe the physical body is the temple of the soul and that physical and spiritual union are necessary to our existence in this life; but I believe God has greater things in store for us than we have yet dreamed of.

THE CHURCH – I believe man finds strength and courage to face the problems of life as he shares that life with his fellow men. He finds peace and joy and happiness as he shares life with his fellow men and as he joins with others in the expression of his life. I believe the church is an organization, divine in its origin, yet using the corporate powers of men for the bringing of God’s Kingdom on earth. I believe the function of the church is to keep before all men the way of life that Jesus proclaimed; to give men the high privilege of worshipping God in the spirit of beauty and of truth; to offer an organization and plan for service to all men in need; and to bring all men into a universal fellowship of unselfish love. I believe that the church, because it is carried on by men, needs always to rediscover the plan of God, and act upon that plan in undying faith.

THE SACRAMENTS – The sacraments, to me, are the paths by which Christians are led to the “Mountain Top”” experiences of religion. There is in the experience of Baptism and Communion a closeness to God for the true worshiper that is not felt in the routine experiences of life. There is a divine mystery for me, in the sacraments that strikes the deeps of spiritual experience and lifts me away from all that is cheap and coarse and ordinary. Baptism, I believe, through the mysterious power of God, does cleanse us spiritually of our sin and does prepare us for a new life. Communion, I believe, is essential to continued spiritual growth as we join with Christians of all ages who have renewed their covenant by partaking of the bread and wine symbolic of Christ’s body and blood.

THE SABBATH – I believe the Sabbath is a gift of God to man and that the law of the Sabbath is a law of love given by a Father who knows the needs and the weakness of His children. I believe the Sabbath law holds for all time and that men suffer spiritually and physically today because they ignore its meaning and purpose in their lives. There is spiritual significance, for me, in the fact that the Sabbath has been a part of Gods plan since the dawn of religious history. I discover spiritual strength and power as I worship on the same sacred day that the Bible heroes helped to sanctify and glorify. I believe in the power of religious tradition so richly present in Sabbath observance. I am impressed by the importance of keeping God’s time, sunset to sunset, and I firmly believe there are great spiritual values to be obtained as we prepare for our day of worship and rest on Friday evening. lie have yet to learn God’s full blessing for us in true Sabbath keeping. Seventh Day Baptists, I believe, have a tremendous responsibility in spreading Sabbath truth and when we live according to what we believe, then surely the Sabbath of God will find its way into the hearts of many Christians who seek the Way of life.

EVANGELISM – I believe that men throughout the world are eager to discover a better way of life than they now have, provided they can be made to see how that life is better. I believe that the seeds of love will find soil in which to grow in the hearts and minds of men in all conditions of life if these seeds are planted in the spirit of love that we find in Jesus Christ. The task of every Christian and of every church, I believe, is to take the Good News of love and truth to all the world and make it so radiate from life that it will set the world on fire with the love of God.

Dean A.J.C. Bond preached the Ordination Sermon on Sabbath morning, August 12, 1939. The title of the sermon was, THE HELP THAT GOES BEFORE, using a text from John 1:48–“Nathaniel saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him. Before Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.” The full text of the sermon was published in the September 4, 1939 issue of THE SABBATH RECORDER.

In the concluding Ordination Service Sabbath afternoon a Charge to the Candidate was given by Reverend Walter Greene; Reverend Edgar Van Horn gave a Charge to the Church; and Reverend George B. Shaw–my former beloved Pastor-offered the Prayer of Consecration. Reverend Clyde Ehret extended a Welcome to the Ministry to the newly ordained minister.

Mrs. Lois Scholes planned and directed the special music for the services. On Sabbath Eve The Friends of Music sang. In the Sabbath morning worship the anthem was, The King of Love My Shepherd Is, (Shelley). Two anthems were sung in the Sabbath afternoon service: God Be In My Head, (Davies) and Thou Hast a Work for Me to Do, (Robson). The Rev. James L. Skaggs, Pastor of the Salem Seventh Day Baptist Church, offered the Pastoral Prayer in the Sabbath morning service. Paul Maxson, my friend and college classmate, gave the benediction Sabbath Eve and Rev. Emmett Bottoms had the invocation in the Sabbath afternoon service. Francis Palmer was organist for the services.

Awesome is the word to describe an experience that occurred after the Sabbath Eve Ordination service. Our family hurried up Hartsville Hill to observe the most spectacular display of Aurora Borealis (northern lights) I have ever witnessed. It was wonderful to have my parents and Madeline’s parents visiting us for my ordination to the Christian ministry.

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