Journey toward ordination: For such a time as this

Marlene Frankenfield

ordin.jpgMarlene Frankenfield was ordained as a minister within Franconia Mennonite Conference on May 5, 2007, at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School. She serves as campus pastor and conference youth minister. The following is an adaptation of her words shared that morning in chapel.

I would never have imagined 18 years ago that I would be in this moment talking about my journey toward ordination. It was the invitation to be a volunteer youth leader at Salford Mennonite Church. Lori Danzenbaker is here today as the one who extended that invitation. This was the beginning of this wild ride toward ordination. I look back and I am deeply grateful for the experience that I received at Salford that prepared the ground for seeds of personal growth and ministry that are now deeply rooted in Franconia Conference and Christopher Dock ministry.

Many of you know that I love the warm wind. It is like God breathing on us! The verse in John 3:8 is powerful for me as I reflect on my journey, “The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” The experiences and people who showed up in my life helped me to feel the wind that sometimes blew as a gentle breeze and other times as a whirlwind of challenges, creating chaos and doubt. At those times people appeared in my life and modeled Jesus for me. I value the many rich experiences, holy moments and a community of faith discernment as I humbly step into ordination.

Ordination seems like a big word to be me. I have been trying to unpack this word for the last few years during my time as a licensed youth minister. A few weeks ago I talked to the chapel committee about the ordination service as we were looking at the chapel schedule. As I was explaining ordination I said “It is like being sentenced to ministry for life” And Anna Ruth said, “that sure is a negative way of looking at ordination.” You got to love it, Anna, speaking the truth in love. I realized how much this word scares me and the identity and expectation that comes with ordination. I remember as I was growing up ordained ministers (and at the time they were all men) were scary and really serious. They were suppose to have all the answers to any questions and ministers were always called on to pray at meals and in public settings. I was also scared because maybe ministry wouldn’t be fun after ordination. I guess my biggest fear is being disconnected from the people on the edge of church or those who have left organized church, because some of these people are my best friends.

Or does ordination validate my call to ministry and especially youth ministry? Does this process acknowledges my passion and gifts as I continue on this journey that God has blessed? And I am deeply grateful for women and men role models and new images of ordained ministry who are ordinary people. Many of these persons are here today. Thanks to those of you who helped me unpack the ordination word that seemed so big.

Last week I was at Princeton Seminary for their youth ministry institute. The theme for the week was community. I heard sermons, and participated in discussion about what is real community and how do we create community in youth ministry. I realized how blessed I was to be apart of this faith community. To be here with faculty and staff and to be working along side other ordained ministers in Franconia Conference. You are all in my cloud of witnesses, knowing that you have encouraged and supported me on this journey these last 8 ½years.

As I continue in youth ministry here at Dock and my role with Franconia Conference I hope that youth feel God’s unconditional love, and experience God’ grace within a faith community. And that people in our congregations and here at Dock will surround youth with love, walk with them and point the way to Christ. This journey continues and it is all about God’s timing. It is a humble journey and I am blessed to be at this place, for such a time as this!

1 thought on “Journey toward ordination: For such a time as this

  1. Marlene,

    Now that you are ‘post-ordained’ 🙂 I hope you find it less a ‘sentencing’ 🙁 and more a privilege. My experience of growing up in a Mennonite Church community was that church was to be quiet and sober and serious (time to get serious with the Lord) when all I really wanted to do was go outside and play raucous tag. Much too late I was offered the advice that humor is a spiritual gift. For me it was the antidote I needed. Enjoy the privilege.


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