Ontario Conference Holds First Ordination Service Since 2019

Posted: February 25th, 2022

On December 11, 2021, an intimate group of friends, family and colleagues gathered at Really Living Centre in Hamilton for Ontario Conference’s first ordination since 2019. Bad weather did not prevent them from supporting Pastors Andrew Thomas (Ruth Church), R. J. Becbec (then-Scarborough, now Barrie Church), Rui Oliveira (Niagara and St. Catharine’s Churches) and Kirk Dunchie (Toronto Central). Beyond the in-person attendees, thousands of well-wishers tuned into the livestream on YouTube.

Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada administrators Mark Johnson (president) and Paul Llewellyn (executive secretary), and Ontario Conference administrators Mansfield Edwards (president) and Jakov Bibulovic (executive secretary) participated in the service. Several Conference directors were also present.

This pandemic-era ordination was unique, marked by elbow bumps, masks and limited in-person guests. Yet, being surrounded by their closest associates felt personal and special for the ordinands.

Thomas later mentioned the cozier ordination prayer circle as a highlight. “Pastor Paul Llewellyn (executive secretary, Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada) laid hands on me. He was my high school Bible teacher at Crawford, a year after I’d become Adventist. It was a nice full circle for me. “

Among other highlights, a newly formed pastors’ quartet—Pastors Carl Cunningham, Evaldo Vicente, Francis Douville, and ordinand Thomas as the lead—delighted attendees with their spirited rendition of “Over the Hill is Home” (Take 6). “A recording of this rendition is a must,” said Pastor Errol Lawrence (Toronto East), to much agreement.

The heart of ordination was a challenging message by Pastor James Black (Prayer Ministry Coordinator, North American Division) titled “Assignments that Make No Sense.” He noted that as the Lord sent out the 72 disciples in Luke 1:1-3, He warned them that their assignment wouldn’t be easy.

Black then alerted the ordinands to four assignments, in this order: 1) self-care, 2) family, 3) community and 4) church. First, he warned them not to neglect caring for their temples. Then, he reminded them that family is the highest priority. Next, Black shared that pastors are not called to churches but to the surrounding communities. Finally, he underlined that, in Luke 10:17, the 72 returned with joy from their challenging assignment, and it was only then that God gave them authority (ordination in today’s context).

Finally, Black encouraged the pastors not to despise assignments that make no sense but to view them as part of their foundation and testimony. “I want to challenge all four of you and your families. Go out and let God [use you] to make a new Canada. When you take care of self, family, cherish your community and church, there is a reward—your name written in the books of heaven.”

His message inspired everyone in attendance. “What a charge!” said Georgette Powell. “What a relevant, powerful word!” said Audrey Milford.

“What a great way to end this worship summit! Congratulations to our newly ordained pastors and their respective families. May the Lord increase your influence, fruitfulness and authority as continue serving,” concluded Pr. David James (Berea Church)