Monday, June 22, 2009

Licentiate, Not Licentious

Last night I journeyed far and wide to Stewartstown in County Tyrone for a service in 1st Stewartstown Presbyterian Church. One of my good friends, Stewart Glendinning, was being Licensed as a Probationer for the Ministry in the Presbyterian Church, and it was interesting to see how Presbyterian services are conducted.

Following the welcome, opening hymn and prayers, the Bible reading and offertory, and another hymn, a Commission of the Presbytery of Tyrone was constituted, which would conduct the formal business of licensing Stewart. In many ways the whole enterprise was similar to the ordination service - the Rule of Faith , that is, the standards and beliefs of the church, is put to the candidate, who assents; then a series of prescribed questions on the specifics of belief, and finally subscription to the Westminster Confession of Faith. Anglican ordinations are similar, in that we subscribe our assent to the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion, although that happens before the service, rather than during.

Following the act of licensing and prayer, Stewart became a Probationer for the ministry of word and sacrament, without any laying on of hands, but with the right hand of fellowship. He's now legit to work as the assistant minister in Sinclair Seaman's Church in the Belfast docks.

The minister of Brigh, Albany and 1st Stewartstown, David Irvine, preached a great sermon from 1 Corinthians 4, highlighting that those engaged in the ministry are servants of Christ (under-rowers, not the usual word for servant diakonos), minsters are stewards of the mysteries of God (entrusted with the work of preaching the gospel), and ministers are to love as fathers and mothers the people in their charge.

All in all, a great service, and hopefully a big encouragement for Stewart too. The evening gave me a chance to meet up with some friends from the Mid-Ulster Battalion Boys' Brigade camps who I haven't seen in a couple of years as I haven't gone camping with them for that length of time!

The two words in the title may sound quite similar, but are very, very different! Stewart is now a Licentiate, but is definitely not licentious!

*The photo wasn't taken last night, but on a bowling trip several years ago!


  1. Must share this strangely related coincidence. I'm doing and essay "Jewish Roots of Christianity", Started thinking about how Presbyterians worship compared to us Anglicans, took a bit of a break to think about it. Thought I'd read your blog. Hey presto, a presbyterian! Scarier still, I "googled" a questoin and what was number 1 hit? Something a certain Garibaldi McFlurry had posted way back in 2006!! Go Gary! MrsMcF

  2. oops, sorry about spelling mistakes!!