Isn’t a vow a vow?

From the order for ordination of elders in The United Methodist Book of Worship:

In covenant with other elders, will you be loyal to The United Methodist Church, accepting its order, liturgy, doctrine, and discipline, defending it against all doctrines contrary to God’s Holy Word, and accepting the authority of those who are appointed to supervise your ministry?

I will, with the help of God

From the order for admission into full membership of the annual conference:

Have you studied the doctrines of The United Methodist Church?

I have studied them.

After full examination, do you believe that our doctrines are in harmony with the Holy Scriptures?

I believe that they are.

Will you preach and maintain them?

To the best of my ability, I will.

When I read these words that I one day may say before God and the church, I think of other vows I have taken. I think of my baptismal vows. Those are vows that I cannot renounce or ignore without renouncing my baptism. I think of my marriage vows. Those are vows I cannot decide no longer bind me without breaking faith with my wife.

Is it any more demanding to ask that I maintain fidelity to my marriage and my baptism than it will be one day to ask that I stay true to my ordination vows, if the Lord grants me the opportunity to make them?


28 thoughts on “Isn’t a vow a vow?

  1. A word about these vows…

    They are not merely historical, though they do have deep historical roots.

    In fact, the Ordinal Revision Task Force, which I convene, reviews the entire ordinal, including the vows, every quadrennium, and recommends changes where we believe they may be beneficial or where other General Conference action requires us to do so.

    Our understanding, supported by the Council of Bishops, is that ordination vows are a specification of the baptismal covenant. They are a Rule of Life and Service that specifies how the persons taking these vows and entering these orders (deacon or elder, or Council of Bishops in the case of bishops) will focus their lives as disciples of Jesus among us to help us all be faithful to “seek peace among all, and that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

    We see the Ordinal, then, as a living document– and a document those who participate in these services– lay and clergy– should be diligent to revisit, review, and use to ensure that, indeed, all of us are being faithful to the covenants we have made first in baptism, and, for the ordained, in ordination or consecration.

  2. A major problem is there are too many people who want the protections and privileges of being an ordained clergyperson in The United Methodist Church while they do not want the duties and responsibilities that come with it. If you do not feel able to uphold the doctrines and laws of The UMC then you should not put yourself forward for ordination or should relinquish it.

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