Thirty Deacons Ordained in Historic Ceremony at Bethel Baptist Church
By Linda T. Fortenberry, Ph.D.
Special to the Outlook
Amid a filled to capacity sanctuary at Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Tallahassee, where Rev. R.B. Holmes is pastor, 30 men were “set apart” for Christian service as deacons.
The historic ordination was on Palm Sunday. Members of the Bethel congregation, along with friends and family from across the nation, joined in the “great cloud of witnesses,” giving thanks to God for the spiritual elevation of their loved ones.
“Just as Jesus trained his disciples for three years, these brothers have been strategically involved in ministry leadership, intensive prayer, study and pastoral support for three years. Their preparation has been rooted in service and Christian stewardship. The church of the living God needs men who are dedicated to the cause of Christ,” said Rev. Holmes, pastor of Bethel Baptist Church.
Bethel’s Inspirational Choir followed by the Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church Choir provided inspirational music for the occasion. The foundational pericope for the ordination emanated from Acts 6:1-4. Rev. Joseph Wright, pastor of Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Church, delivered an inspiring message titled “Step By Step” from Psalm 37:23-25.
Rev. Wright shared three important components of leadership: vision, hindsight and insight.
“Wisdom comes from God. Deacons need to be available; learn how to labor; be faithful and trainable,” noted Pastor Wright. He further illustrated the various types of “steppers:” the “low” stepper, the “high foot” stepper, and the “sure foot” stepper. Rev. Wright concluded his powerful message challenging the new deacons to be “sure-footed” in their walk with the Lord.
Rev. Holmes then pronounced the historic ceremony: “These men have proven themselves worthy of service and their calling. I am humbled by their service, stewardship, sacrifice, and spirit.”
The Ordination Ceremony. One by one, Rev. Holmes individually gave the call to each of the brothers, standing them before the altar. Each quietly and reverently answered their pastor’s call by walking forward when their name was called. It was an experience that words cannot adequately capture except to declare that the “spirit of the Lord” filled the temple at that “self-same hour!” Praise be to God!
The ordination, hymn, prayer and charge were respectively given by Chairman of Deacons, James Lawrence, Associate Minister Richard Mashburn and Pastor Holmes. Next, Rev. Holmes directed each deacon’s wife to come and stand behind their husbands, placing their hands on his right shoulder. This action symbolized their wives commitment to be loving, supportive, prayerful and encouraging to their husbands’ “charge to keep”. Finally, each new deacon was given an official certificate of ordination, memorializing and confirming this great and historic occasion.
The following brothers were officially ordained as deacons by the Rev. R. B. Holmes, pastor of the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church, on March 29, 2015, in Tallahassee, Florida:
Deacon Terry Alex
Deacon Arland Billups
Deacon Jason T. Black
Deacon Kevan Bussey
Deacon Michael Campbell
Deacon Walter Campbell
Deacon John Charles
Deacon George Clark
Deacon James A. Coleman, Sr.
Deacon Jimmie Collins
Deacon Tommy L. Daymond
Deacon Gary L. Gurley
Deacon Marvin J. Henderson
Deacon Prince Hinson, Jr.
Deacon Ausey Johnson, Jr.
Deacon Roland Johnson
Deacon James F. Mathews, Jr.
Deacon Byron A. Menchion
Deacon Ray Mobley
Deacon Reginald A. Smith, Sr.
Deacon Terry Steaple
Deacon Kenneth E.M Taite
Deacon Titus B. Tillman, Jr.
Deacon Virgil Walker
Deacon Victor Bernard Wiley, Sr.
Deacon Al Wilkes
In concluding the ordination ceremony, Pastor Holmes, joined by Bethel’s associate ministers, all visiting ordained ministers and Bethel’s senior deacons, joyfully passed around to give the handshake of love and commendation to the newly ordained deacons.
Additionally, Reverend Holmes presented an “Official License to Preach” to Minister Justin Dillard and a “Certificate of Ordination” to Reverend Mike Pickett.
Following the Ordination, several of the newly ordained deacons reflected on their ordination experience:
Deacon James A. Coleman, Sr.: “This was a spiritual life changing moment for me, but moving forward, I intend to be a dedicated servant of the Lord, helping those in need of spiritual growth.”
Deacon Jason T. Black: “I thank God for the opportunities to be used in such a mighty way, for such a time as this. The world is hungry for truth, leadership, and spiritual guidance. Reverend Holmes and the Deacons of Bethel are being called forth to fill that need. This is an exciting moment!”
Deacon Victor Bernard Wiley, Sr.: “I’m honored by pastor selecting me to serve. Going forward, my mission is to support my pastor and his vision and I’m going to do it faithfully.”
Deacon William T. Roberts: “I feel very honored that the Bethel Missionary Baptist Church saw favor in me. Just to sit under the leadership of Rev. R. B .Holmes in training was life changing.”
Deacon Alton Royal: “I think the ordination was one of the most positive experiences that I have had thus far in life.”
Deacon Marvin Henderson: “The Deacon-in-training experience allowed me to develop a stronger bond with Pastor Holmes, the other Deacons-in-training, and the greater Bethel Church family. I wouldn’t take anything for that experience! The culminating ordination service was very spiritual and a “mountain top” moment for me – and my wife as well. What an awesome honor and opportunity it is to serve!”
Deacon Ray Mobley: “To be chosen is truly humbling. It compels me to a higher level of service and commitment to bring honor and glory to Christ.”
Deacon Reggie A. Smith, Sr.: It was a very moving ceremony. I am so humbled and honored to be selected and ordained. God truly orders the steps of a good man.