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Baptism as Primary Ordination

While ordination to the pastoral office is essential for the life and mission of the church to ensure faithful oversight and stewardship of the ministry of Word and Sacrament, there is a growing theological opinion that we need to begin to view baptism as the universal or primary ordination for all Christians. For example, Luther wrote: “In fact, we are all consecrated priests through baptism, as St. Peter in 1 Peter 2 says, ‘You are a royal priesthood and a priestly kingdom.’ ” Affirming baptism as the primary ordination lends significance and status to all the baptized as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This does not diminish the importance of pastoral ministry. Rather it provides the condition by which pastors can serve in life-giving partnership with all members of the body of Christ. It also provides a needed reminder to pastors of the other roles and responsibilities they bear as they minister in the other arenas of daily life beyond their pastoral service.

Baptismal Call

Through baptism each person receives a call to ministry that is lived out in distinctive roles and relationships of daily life. The arenas of daily life provide the locations in which the baptized live out that call. The baptismal call to ministry in daily life involves both privileges and responsibilities. The privileges are based on the gifts of the Gospel freely received from God in Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. The responsibilities are articulated in the Affirmation of Baptism rite: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

Baptismal Covenant

At baptism God makes a covenant with the baptized person. God in Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit bestows upon the baptized forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation as gifts. The baptized person in grateful response to God’s generosity is extended a call to ministry in daily life as articulated in the Affirmation of Baptism rite: to live among God’s faithful people, to hear the word of God and share in the Lord’s supper, to proclaim the good news of God in Christ through word and deed, to serve all people, following the example of Jesus, and to strive for justice and peace in all the earth.

Book of Faith Initiative

A grassroots initiative within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America to encourage all members of our congregations, from children to adults, to dig deeper into our book of faith, the Bible. This is an approach embracing a common vision in which all are invited to open scripture and join the conversation. Each community is encouraged to decide how the Book of Faith Initiative will become a vital part of its own ministry.

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