You are here

Customary: Celebration of New Ministry

This customary was developed by Bishop Mark Beckwith. Bishop Carlye Hughes is continuing to use it until she develops her own customary.


Some clergy prefer to schedule the service shortly after their arrival.  Others prefer to wait several months until a relationship and rhythm has been established.  Either way is fine with me, but I would suggest that you talk this through with your Wardens and Vestry, because they may have some assumptions about when the service should be scheduled.   Saturdays (morning or afternoon), Sundays (afternoon only) and weekday evenings are all possible, depending on my calendar.  Please contact my assistant, Kay Lark at or 973-430-9976, to schedule a date.  The more lead time you have, the better.

Once the date is set, you’ll start thinking about invitations.  Should you wish to mail an invitation to each clergyperson, please follow this link to an Avery template for labels for every church:  Some prefer to email the notice to all clergy and that is accomplished with this email address:  The date and time will be included in our web calendar and mentioned in the weekly blast emails from our Director of Communications.

Concerning the Service

The BCP outlines the basic outline for the celebration of new ministry.  (page 558)  However, in the Diocese of Newark, the celebration is of new ministry between the living Christ and all the members of the congregation, including the priest. 

You are welcome to use the Prayer Book liturgy, the liturgy from Enriching Our Worship or a combination of other sources.  I would ask you to call Kay Lark to set up a half hour phone conversation at least ten days ahead of time to go over a draft of the service.  The Celebration of New Ministry liturgy sets a tone for your ministry in the congregation.  It is also an opportunity to introduce new music or a different liturgical expression that you may want to later incorporate in the worship life of the congregation. 

You may choose a layperson, a deacon, a priest or a bishop to be the preacher.  You may enlist a combination of preachers.  If you want me to preach, I will do so – but I request that you ask me at least a month in advance.

Some specific suggestions about the service.

Since I stand for the Institution (page559) and the Induction (page561), the Bishop’s chair does not need to be moved. 

My office will provide the Letter of Institution, and either Canon Jacobs or I will read it where indicated in the Prayer Book Rubrics. 

The Prayer Book outlines 8 symbols (page 561-562) to be presented at the Induction.  I invite you to consider adding a few that highlight a particular ministry in your church (e.g. after school program, a tenant congregation, a community ministry).  I strongly encourage you to have children from the parish present a symbol of their life in the congregation.  I also invite you to consider having members of your family present a symbol that clearly suggests that you have a life and relationship with them outside of church (e.g. theater tickets, dinners at a favorite restaurant, etc.).

It helps if all the gifts are on a table beforehand.  The presenters give the gift to you.  You can then give the gift to the MC or someone else appointed to take them and put them on another table – or even on the altar to be blessed during the Eucharist.

In the Prayer Book, after the gifts have been presented, the priest then kneels in the middle of the nave and says the prayer on page 562.  The prayer makes a theological statement that may not be aligned with your own.   I would invite you to consider changing “I am not worthy” to “I am humbled”  (EOC doesn’t have this at all).  Some clergy want to make the change; others feel that the statement expresses their faith.  The choice is yours.

After the prayer on page 562-563, the Prayer Book has the bishop make the invitation to greet the new Rector (or Priest-in-Charge).  Before introducing you, I will acknowledge the search committee along with the Wardens and Vestry. I am also willing to introduce your family to the congregation, provided I have your and their permission.

After the introduction, you will introduce the exchange of the Peace.

During the announcements, you as the new Rector or Priest in Charge can make your own acknowledgements.  I would ask you to include two things:

  1.  Indicate the recipient of the offering (most of the time it goes to the Priest’s discretionary fund
  2. Indicate to the congregation who can receive communion and how to do so.  There may be people who are not familiar with the Episcopal Church, and a brief explanation is an important dimension of hospitality.

After the service, you should stand near a door to greet people.  I will stand near you, but people should have the opportunity to greet you first.

I look forward to this celebration, which expresses the joy of our life with each other and the living Christ.

+Mark M. Beckwith

Mark M. Beckwith
Bishop of Newark

Resource Date: 
Mar 23, 2012