Blessed by Katie Ricks’ Energy, Intelligence, Imagination and Love
This Sunday, April 15, 2012, Katie Ricks will be ordained to the office of teaching elder, becoming Associate Pastor of the Church of Reconciliation, a Presbyterian church in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Katie has served as non-ordained staff at Church of Reconciliation since she graduated from seminary in 2002.
Katie’s call to ministry was loud and clear—to both herself and to her congregation. But for the past 10 years, because of Presbyterian Church rules, Katie had been barred from ordination. Why? Because Katie has been honest with herself, her God and her church that she is lesbian.
Like many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Presbyterians who have sensed a call to ministry in the church but have been excluded from leadership roles, Katie found ways to serve Christ however she could. When the rules changed last July, Katie, the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and the presbytery took the required steps to approve Katie for ordination.
In the ordination service, one of the questions Katie will answer is this: “Will you pray for and seek to serve the people with energy, intelligence, imagination and love?”
We know she will because she already has.
I was blessed to experience this with Katie a few years back when I was attending a conference and she led worship that included the Lord’s Supper. There are only a few things in the Presbyterian tradition that ordained clergy must do. One of them is the saying of the Words of Institution during Communion. They are familiar to us all: Jesus said, “Take, eat, this is my body which is given for you,” and “This cup is the new covenant sealed in my blood. Do this, remembering me.”
In order to allow Katie to say these Words of Institution, the liturgy invited everyone to say them along with the clergy in the room. The rules were followed and, at the same time, we were all included, making it a special moment for all who were there. It took great intelligence and imagination to create this immensely loving moment, one I have remembered ever since.
Jesus points out in the Sermon on the Mount, “No one after lighting a lamp puts it under a bushel, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to the whole house.” (Matthew 5:15)
LGBT Presbyterians have huge gifts for ministry—God has lit so many up like lamps—but the church has kept them under a bushel until now. One by one, now, like Katie, these faithful members may be ordained, serve in our congregations, and participate in presbytery. Their light will shine through the whole church and bless the whole world!
Their energy, intelligence, imagination and love are already proven. And God will bless us with their service.
Reverend Janet Edwards
Here are some additional stories about Katie’s ordination: