On Saturday, 5th November, James Allan was ordained to the Christian ministry and inducted into the pastorate of Hebron. It was a chilly but beautiful autumn afternoon and the chapel was filled with sunlight and around 250 people. It was a stirring sound to hear so many voices singing God’s praise.
Dr. Eryl Davies, an Elder at the Heath Evangelical Church in Cardiff, read Mark 6:30-50. Rev. Stephen Darby, pastor of Hope Church at Bethel Cefn Hengoed and Calvary Penybryn (James’ former church) led the ordination, explaining from Ephesians 4 that the Lord clearly gives some to be teachers in the church. James confirmed his belief in God, Christ to be the Son of God, and the Scriptures to be the infallible Word of God. Rev. Roy Hamilton, the former pastor of Hebron, and Dr Davies laid hands on James to set him apart for the ministry.
Philip Cushen, an elder at Hebron, gave a history of the call for a pastor, prompted by the Rev. Hamilton’s announcement a year ago of his intention to retire by the end of 2016. The elders thought it would be unwise to consider a very young man for the ministry, but conversely the church would benefit from a longer period of settled ministry that an older man would not be able to give. There was also a desire not to draw a man away from an existing ministry.
James Allan had preached at Hebron on occasion from 2007 onwards and had a strong sense of divine call to ministry. The elders thoroughly grilled James on doctrinal matters! A ballot was held in June and the members of Hebron unanimously voted in favour of calling James to the pastorate; a result which nobody could remember happening in Hebron before. James accepted the call within a few days and was received into membership at Hebron, along with his wife Esther, in October.
Philip ended with the encouragement that in 1964 a man, then slightly younger than James is now, began a long ministry in Hebron that would last for 37 years. However, more than desiring a lengthy ministry, the church hopes for the Lord’s blessing on it, and that we may see a return to the days in Hebron lore when the chapel was so hot from the crowds that the minister asked the deacons to smash the windows!
James then gave a response to the call. He mentioned that the first time he preached at Hebron he had the conviction that this congregation loved God’s Word. He gave his testimony, giving thanks for his parents bringing him up with the truth of Scripture, for the Godly influences and conviction of sin he felt at the Heath when he was 15, for hearing faithful preaching, for the desire and opportunities to speak God’s Word to others, for his calling, and for God’s helping the family after the call came. He admitted to being excited and terrified at the same time, realising his own weaknesses and sin, and valuing prayer.
Rev. Stephen Darby gave a commendation of James from Hope Church where James and Esther chose to serve for 13 years rather than attending a larger church. He spoke of their faithfulness to God, loyalty and prayerfulness, and service in the children’s work. The church is indebted to them – while giving the glory to God alone – and will miss them and their children.
Rev. Dan Peters, pastor of Newcastle Reformed Evangelical Church, and James’ brother-in-law, preached from Mark 6 on two of Jesus’ most iconic miracles: the feeding of the five thousand and Jesus walking on the water. The context is the sending forth of the disciples and the miracles are subservient to this. While James is not being inducted into Apostolic ministry, there is overlap as Apostles and teachers are listed together in Ephesians 4. Jesus tells the disciples on their return to come and rest a while. Those who labour and are heavy laden should come to Jesus for rest. However, it is not just about mental and physical rest but finding our ultimate satisfaction in Him.
Jesus sets an example to the disciples by having compassion on the crowd. The compassionate part of the pastoral ministry is not only hospital visits or encouraging emails. Needs are met when the Word is preached. Preaching is the main conduit of love and compassion to the congregation.
Jesus exercises His power through the disciples. He tells the disciples to give the crowd something to eat and in the end it is the disciples who set the food before the people. Pastors today work as His power flows through them.
Jesus’ walking on the water did not prove Him to be God in itself since Peter was also enabled to do the same. However, it was a display of divine glory. He would have “passed by” them, and He said, “It is I”, alluding to Exodus. The scene is reminiscent of Psalm 77 as it speaks of the parting of the Red Sea. It is appropriate for Jesus to show Himself as the God of Exodus, as the disciples’ message as they go out is to be that Jesus is God.
We are invited to receive His rest and take our rightful place at His feet in worship and surrender. We must bow down to Him as God or face the eternal consequences.
The act of induction was led by Rev. Roy Hamilton who noted that the theme throughout the afternoon had been the centrality of the Word of God. He reviewed the church rules and confession of faith put in place by Hebron to protect both the minister and the congregation. They cannot come back later and say they no longer believe these things. James affirmed his intention to seek to glorify God and to nourish and care for the people, labouring for their eternal welfare. The church members consented to honour, support and work with James without contention, and the elders placed hands on him.
The service was followed by a tea of sandwiches, Welsh Bara Brith, pikelets and an abundance of cakes.
James will take up the pastoral ministry full time in December after finishing his secular employment.