“Today is a mountain top day.” Pastor Cynthia Lapp began her March 3 Transfiguration Sunday sermon with these fitting words as Hyattsville (MD) Mennonite Church celebrated the ordination and full credentialing into ministry of Michelle Burkholder by Allegheny Mennonite Conference. The mountain top experience made reference to the transfiguration of Jesus in Luke 9:28-36.
For the service
of ordination, David Mishler, Allegheny Mennonite Conference Minister, led the
examination, prayer of ordination, and anointing. Wyatt Feeler, Cong. chair, and Mary Jo
Schumacher, Pastorate chair, read a congregational affirmation. During the prayer of ordination and
anointing, those with ministerial credentials, including her father, and many
members, surrounded Michelle with a laying on of hands.
by her wife Becky and son Simon, led the peace lamp lighting and tenderly
reflected on the pain and joys of her long journey to pastoral ministry and
ordination. She remembered our United
Methodist LGBTQ siblings during a painful week for their denomination, as well as
those who have created safe spaces of justice for LGBTQ people. Michelle prays
for courage and strength for those who continue in that work.
Time for Children, Leanne Zook shared stories about how each child could aspire
to be who or whatever they wanted to be.
The worship arts
were in full bloom. A cello trio played
the prelude and the HMC bluegrass band delighted all with some traditional
hymns during the offertory and postlude.
created a blocked print banner with varied geometric forms representing
community that featured Michelle’s official colors of black and khaki.
ordination, Michelle shared that she felt a strong undercurrent of a call to
ministry for many years. In many ways,
she was destined to become a pastor; pastoring is a vocation held by many
members and ancestors in Michelle’s family going back five generations. The congregation affirms the many gifts that
Michelle brings to our congregation through her art, creative sermons, guiding
the children and youth, her humor and joyful presence.
A stole created
by former member Ruth Kitchin Tillman was presented to Michelle. It incorporates representations of
cross cutouts from Michelle’s artwork and is accented with a rainbow-colored
edge. A large framed photo of the church
sanctuary with hand-written messages of affirmation, support, and love, was
family, and AMC representatives joined in this service of celebration and
consecration, swelling attendance to over 200, well beyond the HMC
average. All were invited to a potluck
meal following the service that featured an array of Michelle’s favorite foods in the Fellowship
Hall festively decorated with splashes of pre-Lenten color. “It was a mountain top service” and similar
words were a common refrain expressed by many during the meal and as we parted