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June 26, 2003: A mingling of Methodists

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This past weekend wasn’t all dirt and Harry Potter. Saturday evening, after we’d collapsed from hauling dirt and come inside to take showers and naps, we headed off to the Sacramento Convention Center, where we first spent the usual five minutes searching for a parking spot somewhere in the five-mile vicinity of the center, and then had to make our way through cement barriers to actually get in. This is because the big agricultural technology meeting was supposed to start on Sunday so the local police force had been busily setting up road blocks and barriers and stringing ‘no parking’ signs all over the surrounding six blocks (making the parking spot search just that much more difficult) in preparation for what turned out to be a disappointingly low turnout in crazed and destructive protestors. Although I’m sure it was almost worth it just to see all the protestors who turned out dressed as fruits and vegetables, but I am digressing here. Since the convention didn’t actually start until Sunday we managed to get into the convention center without any hassle whatsoever and did not have to do much wandering at all before I spotted an open door and a room full of Methodist ministers in robes, and we knew we were in the right spot.

A few years ago I wrote about the night my mom was consecrated as a diaconal minister, which took place, conveniently enough, in the exact same room in the Sacramento Convention Center we ended up in Saturday night. Well, since that night the Methodist church went and changed a few things such that they decided they really wanted to phase out diaconal ministry and so all the current diaconals were strongly ‘encouraged’ to become deacons instead. It’s not a promotion or a step up in ranks – it’s simply just another branch of the same tree – both diaconals and deacons are called into service ministry (as opposed to those who are called to pulpit ministry, which is the type of preachers/ministers most people are familiar with). There are a few added benefits to being a deacon – namely that they can perform such things as weddings and funerals and technically, diaconals really aren’t supposed to. But on the down side, deacons are required to do a bit more pulpit work, and if one was a diaconal who really did not feel called to the pulpit, this would certainly be considered a rather big drawback.

The whole point of all that rambling is that Saturday night we attended the Ordination Service for the local Methodist conference, at which my mom received her deacon’s orders. It was a very long service, mainly because along with a fairly small group of people becoming deacons, there was a much larger group of people becoming other things as well. And it was much like a graduation, in that each person's name was called in the slow and deliberate way taken when the person reading the name isn't exactly clear on the pronunciation, and then this was followed by a few ceremonial steps, including kneeling, praying, and the inevitable hugging and shaking of hands that followed.

Eventually, however, it was all over, and my mom is now a deacon - a state which includes not only a spiffy new stole and a new title, but which (best of all) means that we can *finally* call her Reverend Ma (said with as much twangy drawl on the Ma as possible). Even though she still has yet to use the Action Figure Jesus her loving children gave her in a sermon.

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