TUPELO – A little levity helps when the big show is about to start.
“Black church never ends,” said the Rev. Charles Lesure, laughing as he paced the north end of the BancorpSouth Arena, making sure things were set for the closing ceremonies.
Wednesday night delegates from the three Northeast Mississippi districts of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church wrapped up the annual conference in Tupelo.
This was the ordination ceremony, the capstone of a four-day conference during which delegates discussed business, listened to spirited preaching and sang until their lungs were sore.
Geno Jones of Poplar Springs CME Church in Shannon led the choir into a spirited rendition of “They got the word,” as ministers from 119 churches throughout the three districts processed into the arena.
Walking alongside them were candidates to be ordained as deacons and elders, as well as those who were to be admitted to trial as ministers.
“We have joy in the name of God, joy in the name of the Holy Spirit and joy, joy, joy in the name of Jesus,” said the Rev. Clementine Mays, host pastor of the conference, during her opening remarks.
More than 400 faithful filled the south end of the arena, watched over by matronly women in immaculate white dresses who walked the aisles directing folks to their seats.
At the end of the evening, seven would-be pastors were admitted to trial for ministry, a formation process that includes study and supervision by experienced ministers. Ten individuals were ordained as deacons, seven were ordained as elders and one was ordained as an elder in full connection.
Mays of Poplar Springs summed up the evening’s sacred yet lighthearted atmosphere best when she said, “Let God have his way.”
Contact Galen Holley at (662) 678-1510 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Galen Holley/NEMS Daily Journal