Chapter 7: A prayer of commissioning

A prayer of commissioning

(Refer to supplementary regulation 6b)

When an elder has been trained and authorised by Presbytery to administer communion, it may be appropriate that authorisation to serve in this role be recognised in the parish context by a simple prayer of commissioning. Since it is the Presbytery that has given training and authorisation, it may be felt appropriate that a member of Presbytery should visit the parish to conduct such a prayer (perhaps one of the ministers involved in the Presbytery's training of the elder, or the Interim Moderator if the charge is vacant). In other cases, however, it may be thought more appropriate that Presbytery simply ask the local Minister of Word and Sacrament to recognise Presbytery's authorisation with a prayer, again in the local setting.

In no case should such a commissioning prayer give the appearance that the elder (already ordained as an elder, and quite possibly at some previous time set apart in prayer as a Lay Preacher) is being ordained as Minister of the Word and Sacrament, or being admitted to some new third type of ordination. Rather, God's blessing and empowering is being sought as the ordained elder takes up a specific additional role in his/her service within the church. The closest parallel would be when the Presbytery commissions in prayer as a lay preacher someone who is already an ordained elder. The manner in which any commissioning is conducted must always avoid conveying the impression that authorisation by the Presbytery to administer communion does in some way confer a special and independent personal status. As with all ministries among God's people, it should be seen as a servant role, to be held with humility and, in this case, with accountability to the Minister, Session, and Presbytery. To avoid giving unhelpful impressions, then, it is best that any commissioning prayer be incorporated as a brief but significant part of a normal worship service within the parish concerned.

A suggested prayer (adapt as appropriate)

Almighty God, we praise you, we give you our thanks for your grace toward us in Jesus Christ, who lived, died, and rose again, through whom we have life, hope, and purpose.

We thank you for your gift to us of the Word of God, witnessing to us of your everlasting love and truth.

We thank you for your gift to us of the Lord's Supper, witnessing to us of our communion with you through Christ our Lord.

We thank you for the gifts of service that you by your Holy Spirit have given to all your people, so that we may each serve you, and serve others.

We thank you this day for______ , for your love and Holy Spirit life toward him/her, for the work of the Holy Spirit in his/her life, for his/her service for you, for all the gifts and graces you have given.

As ______ takes up this additional role of leading your people in the celebration of Holy Communion, we pray that your Holy Spirit may give him/her a renewed joy and assurance in the knowledge that his/her sins are forgiven.

We pray that you may refresh ______ from on high, that you may equip and empower him/her for ongoing service.

May he/she always worship you with sincerity and wholeness of heart.

May he/she handle with skill your living word, and communicate it with compassion and authority.
May he/she have a sensitivity to your leading, and to the needs of all your people.

May he/she have the humble attitude of a true servant of God.

Deepen us all in the experience of your grace. Make us more aware of the tasks you have for us all, within your church, and especially within your world beyond this church. May we all be more aware of the gifts you have given to each. Strengthen our life together. May your peace be in our midst. Empower the witness and the service of us all.

For we pray in Jesus' name, AMEN.

Suggested hymn: 'Brother, sister let me serve you'.