Amicable Encounters Episode III: The Candidate

Posted: June 25, 2014 by Matt Horan in Uncategorized

By Matt Horaninterview1

Eric’s fingers were cramping.  He was typing the second paper of the day, and estimated that he’d been typing for about five hours total.  He loved being in seminary–the learning, the professors, the friends he’d made, the theological discussions–it had been great.  If it wasn’t for all of the reading and writing, it would have been perfect.  To top it all off, as a reward for finishing seminary, he would get to then write his paperwork for commissioning.  He was a certified candidate from the Louisiana Annual Conference, on the track to become an elder.

The phone rang as he began page four.  He picked it up, and was surprised to hear the voice of the staff-parish relations chairperson, Elizabeth Wyatt, from his home church in Baton Rouge.  “Hello Eric!  How are things in seminary?”

They chit-chatted for a few minutes, and Elizabeth gushed about how proud the whole church was of him.  He was their first ever certified candidate for ministry, and every visit home made him feel like a conquering hero.

“Well, Eric, let me tell you the reason for my call.”  Elizabeth got down to business, “You and I have talked a few times about the  homosexuality issue, and I’ve always thought that you and I are pretty much on the same page.  Would you agree?”

“I’d say so.”

“Well, you know that Charge Conference is coming up, and since they decided to split the church at General Conference a few months ago, we have to vote and decide which side we’ll be on.”

“Mm-hmm,” Eric looked at the computer screen.  He still had so much to do.

“So, a couple of us who are of the same opinion on it were together last night and got talking about the vote.  One person suggested that you should come and speak and tell everybody that you don’t want to be ordained into the wrong denomination.  Everyone loves you and they will definitely want to choose the path that will help you succeed.”

Eric suddenly felt a panic.  He was a certified candidate for ordained ministry in the United Methodist Church.  In a year he would apply to the Board of Ordained Ministry for commissioning as a provisional elder.  But all of that was on the back burner, with Greek, Hebrew, and Exegesis of the Old Testament taking top priority.

The seminary had been abuzz a few months ago when the General Conference vote happened, but he hadn’t really had time to engage in it much.  Now, however, with his staff-parish relations chairperson on the other end of the phone, her question seemed to unleash a hundred more.  What would this mean for his candidacy?  Who would end up owning the seminary?  Would an MDiv. degree be accepted in both denominations?  In either?  Would both have a Board of Ordained Ministry?  Which one was he certified with?  Which would he apply to?

“Elizabeth,” Eric said weakly, “Can I call you back?”

He abruptly ended the call, and scrolled through his phone contacts.  He found the one he needed, and dialed.

“Central District office, how can I help you?”

“Hello, I’m trying to reach the district superintendent.”

“And who may I say is calling?”

“My name is Eric.  I’m a certified candidate in the district.”

The receptionist sighed loudly, “Okay, I know why you’re calling.  She’s working on it and will email all of you when she knows something.”

“Well, I have a few–”

He heard another line ring in the background, and she cut him off.  “Best I can do right now is put you through to her voicemail.  Please hold.”

There was a beep.  Eric’s questions swirled, but none of them would come out of his mouth while he felt the pressure of the silence on the other end.  An awkward amount of silence was recorded by the district superintendent’s voicemail–too much silence.  He hung up without a word, looked at page four on his computer screen, and wondered if it would even matter if he wrote another word.




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