What are "Ordination" and "Installation" all about?

Thanks for your interest in learning more about our leadership roles at Concordia, and how our systems work in our church!

Ordination and Installation are terms we use to describe things that happen for pastors and congregations in Lutheran Church—Canada (our national church body).

Ordination

The process by which someone becomes a pastor in our church results in a man being declared Biblically qualified after being examined at one of our seminaries. Once he is qualified, he becomes ordained as a pastor. Ordination is a simple rite where a man's call into the pastoral office is publicly affirmed. It normally happens in the same worship service as a pastor's first Installation (more about that below).

It's important to recognize that ordination is simply a public confirmation of a man's call to serve as a pastor. It's not something that was absolutely commanded by God, nor does it make a man any "more holy" than any other Christian. It is simply a public ceremony that affirms that this man has been set apart by God, who works through His church, to serve in the role of pastor.

It's preferable to have an ordiniation and installation together, since it more closely ties the ordination to the fact that pastors serve in congregations. Sometimes men will be ordained, then installed at a later time, but that has some connotations that aren't necessarily preferable in our context. (Primarily, it can give the impression that pastors are some other class of Christian, in a distinct class as a person rather than in their role as pastor to a congregation.) So it's better to have an ordination happen together with the installation of a pastor into his first congregation.

What happens in the Ordination rite?

The rite takes place within a worship service. A respresentative of the national church, normally the District President or his delegate, will lead the rite. He will share some Scripture with the congregation, and then ask the candidate to make some vows before the church, that he will be faithful to the teachings of the Bible, that he will teach them properly in accordance with our church's confession of faith, that he will serve the people who called him as a pastor, and that he will live a life of example and faithfulness.

Often other pastors will gather together and speak a word of blessing to the new pastor, affirming him and encouraging him in his new role.

He will also have a "stole" placed on him. The stole is the coloured piece of fabric that goes over a pastor's robe. The stole is a symbol of slavery - the pastor is a slave to Christ and servant of the people of the congregation, who takes this task upon himself not grudginly, but willingly.

Installation

Installation is a rite where a pastor is publicly placed into his role as pastor in a specific congregation. While ordination happens only once in a pastor's ministry, installation happens each time he begins serving in a new congregation or new role. It's fairly similar to the ordination rite, just with a bit of a different focus. Again, the installation rite happens within a worship service. If it's a man's first congregation, it will happen immediately after the ordination. Again, a representative of the national church will share some Scripture (other pastors and workers may share some too), ask some questions of the pastor and of the congregation (asking them to commit to serving and supporting one another), and then pray God's blessing upon the ministry that the pastor and congregation will do.

Then normally the newly installed pastor will take over the leadership of the worship service, leading prayers and through the end of the service.

Hopefully that's helpful to you in understanding more about what this all means. There might be other terms you read that aren't that familiar, such as "call", "District President", etc. We'll write more about that, but if you'd like to talk with someone about anything you've read in here, feel free to contact us. We'd love to have coffee with you and visit!