Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Thursday’s Child has Far to Go…or Why I Have Chosen to Leave the Ordained Ministry

Recently, I have asked Mission Presbytery to begin the process which will allow me to be ‘released from ordained ministry.’ That’s church speak for giving up my ability to be recognized as a minister of the Word and Sacrament (or Teaching Elder) in the Presbyterian Church, USA.
I was born on a Thursday and that saying about Thursday’s child has always seemed to resonate with my life.  My mother told me that I seemed to somehow consistently choose the more difficult path. Once again, I seem to have left the safety of the known for the “You’re doing what?” option.
In this case, I’m not quite sure of where God is leading me or what my future ministry  will look like. I  suspect it will look quite different from the ministry I have done within the Church over the past 12 years.
When I made the choice to become ordained, I spent a long weekend at a convent whose occupants had taken a vow of silence. I had plenty of quiet time to sit and listen for God’s voice. At that time I very clearly heard God offer me a choice. I felt assured that He would use me whether I chose to accept a call to ordained ministry or not.  At that time, I chose to become a minister. I have no doubts that in the past 12 years God has used me for His purposes and for that I am truly thankful.
Life is often not as clear cut as we would like it to be and it is certainly the case in mine that the journey never seems to conclude but just continues on, sometimes taking a turn that is quite unexpected.
This year I found myself back at the same crossroads I visited 12 years ago when God offered me a choice and promised to use me whichever path I took.
So, today, I have chosen to give up the specific tasks of ordained ministry and am stepping out into the unknown, ready to see what ministry God will call me to next. After all, all of us who follow Christ are his representatives and therefore minister in His name.
This has not been an easy decision to make but it is the right one. Who I am, my faith in God and my love for His church has not changed, I am simply changing the role I play in His kingdom. As I transition from pastor to member, I ask for your prayers and support as well as your patience as I  continue to seek God’s leading in this new role.
For those of you who attend Live Oak and wonder what this will mean for that congregation, I'll tell you ;) It means that as of the end of August I will no longer be on staff and running the programs I've run the last few years. I will still remain on the preaching schedule and preach a couple times this summer and a few times around the holidays while the Minter's are settling in with their new addition. It does not mean that my family will disappear - we will continue to worship at Live Oak and participate in the life of the Church.
In Faith,
Chesney Szaniszlo
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)