To my considerable surprise, my church recently decided to nominate me to the priesthood. After a couple of days of turning this around in my head and examining it from a few angles, questioning whether I’m worthy, whether I’m ready, whether I’m the right person for the job, I accepted their decision.
Today, our Patriarch, The Most Reverend Mar +Iohannes IV announced officially that I’m to be ordained along with a bunch of my fellow seminarians. So in May, Min and I will go to San Francisco to attend the AJC Conclave (well, I’ll be attending Conclave, I’m hoping Min will be sightseeing) where my life takes an irrevocable turn.
When I return, our small Sydney group Saint Uriel the Archangel Gnostic Community will become the Parish of Saint Uriel the Archangel and start offering more public services as we begin the process of community-building in earnest.
To answer some commonly asked questions:
I’m not finished in the seminary course; there’s a lot more to learn. The AJC regards the formation of a priest to be parallel to seminary studies — the two processes proceed at their own rate.
This is not a change in career; the AJC is a small church and none of our clergy are employed by their parish. Perhaps that might change in the future, but I think there’s a lot to be said for priests who live in the world.
When I’m ordained, my Orders will be valid, apostolic orders — which means in plain language that I will be a priest in the same spiritual sense (though in a very different organisational sense) as a Roman Catholic priest (for instance). That means that I am able to provide the sacraments (baptism, confirmation, unction, eucharist, reconciliation and matrimony) and those sacraments have the same validity as those provided by a priest in a larger church.
Australian Federal law does not automatically grant me the right to perform legally valid marriages, even though my church gives me the right to provide the sacrament of matrimony. That distinction is, I think, an interesting and productive thing to explore for couple seeking to formalise their relationship — it means you could choose to seek either matrimony or marriage at separate times.
I could become legally licensed as a marriage celebrant and therefore be able to provide both, but until I am able to marry my beloved in my own country, I do not intend to do that. My church provides its sacraments to “all humanity without discrimination on the basis of gender, race, social status or sexual orientation” (one of the many reasons I’m here) and I would be thrilled to offer matrimony to gay or lesbian couple who wish to celebrate their eternal bond before the Divine.
Each of those points could probably bear expanding and there’s more I’d like to say, which leads me to my next point:
To celebrate my happy news, I’ve started another blog. This one is focussed on spirituality, specifically the modern, gnostic, post-dualistic spirituality I’m pursuing in association with the AJC. It will have reports from my own journey, comments on stuff I’m reading both in my studies and on the web, perhaps occasional references to the news… stuff like that.
“He’s Just Had Coffee” continues, but it’s mostly going to be focussed on personal stuff and silly pop culture.
(This post is cross-posted to both “He’s Just Had Coffee” and “… as upon a straight road”)