The Netherlands Union Conference (NUC) has welcomed two new pastors, Enrico Karg and Guisèle Berkel-Larmonie, in an ordination ceremony at the Christus Koning church in the Hague on September 21st, 2013.
Following a brief worship service, Ps. Jan Koeweiden and Ps. Dwight van Ommeren, who mentored the young pastors during their two year internship phase, took the opportunity to offer their soon-to-be colleagues a final word of advice and support. Ps. van Ommeren gave seven parting tips for success in ministry. Ps. Koeweiden spoke jokingly of how, in a time of financial and social crisis, the job of a pastor is “the job of a lifetime because it is a job for life”. Ps. Koeweiden and Ps. van Ommeren also delivered a prayer for the two candidates before Ps. Jurriën den Hollander, director of the NUC’s Ministerial Association, offered the prayer of ordination.
Before the laying on of hands, Dr Tom de Bruin, executive secretary of the NUC, held a sermon on what it means to be ‘called’. Citing the stories of Moses, Isaiah, Elisha, Jeremiah, and Ellen White, the sermon focused on the narrative of Peter and his miraculous catch in Luke 5:1-11, explaining that just as each of those people was miraculously called, so every one of us has our own calling from God. “Everyone is called to something different,” said Dr de Bruin, “but everyone is called. None of us is worthy, but if we listen to God’s call amazing things will happen”.
Ps. Karg and Ps. Berkel-Larmonie gave their own testimonies in response, and shared their personal stories of calling. “It took me a long time to recognise it myself,” said Ps. Karg, “but when I look back there were many people who saw a pastor in me. Without them I wouldn’t be here today.” Ps. Berkel-Larmonie’s testimony was more sober in tone, but no less moving. “For a long time I fought my calling, and when I finally accepted it the road was long and uncertain” she said, “but now I understand why God let me take so long to make it here. It’s like my husband Glen always says—God wanted me to be here at this exact time.”
NUC president Ps. Wim Altink delivered the charge, and both candidates responded to the questions with a resounding “Yes”. “It is amazing that we have young, fresh spiritual leaders in the church” said Ps. Altink. “With these leaders our church has a bright future. I can safely say this is a church to be proud of”. This last phrase refers to the title of the stratetic plan for the NUC for the coming five years. Ps. Berkel-Larmonie and Ps. Karg mark the beginning of what the NUC hopes will be a fresh new generation of young pastors. A staggering 60% of the NUC’s current pastors are due to retire within the next fifteen years. Pastoral interns Tom Meijer and Oliver Yeboah, the next young candidates on the road to ordination, were also present for the ceremony.
Looking back at the day, the tone of the service was clearly focused on God, and his calling of all people alike. In this way the NUC administration followed the tone set in the decision at the Union session last December, where the members called for total equality between all people serving the church. While it is a historic day for female pastors, the emphasis of the day was not on any human affairs, but rather on the unimaginable power of God, who can still call people to serve his church even in 2013.