Ordination Day at New Song-Salt Lake

On May 31, 1998, Mr. Jeffrey Szakonyi, pastoral assistant at New Song-Salt Lake, was ordained to the ministry. The ordination was conducted by a minister from Summit View Community Church, a Willow Creek-affiliated congregation in Belleview, WA.

According to at least two observers, participating in the ordination service were members of the Leadership Team, both men and women, who were called up front to lay hands on Mr. Szakonyi during a prayer.

Having a Presbyterian Church in America mission church host an ordination service by a church which is theologically diverse is perhaps unprecedented. However, Mr. Szakonyi's ordination through his home congregation had long been expected.

Lewis Ruff, Western Coordinator for the denomination, has written: "Jeffrey was encouraged by the 3 PCA pastors in Salt Lake City a year ago to continue the process of ordination which he had already begun with his church in Seattle, a process which was being overseen by an elder in that church who had been an elder in the Christian Reformed Church for years and who therefore had special sensitivity to the ordination requirements and process in the PCA. I met with Larry Bouma in a several hour meeting recently in which he was conducting one more interview on behalf of his church of those who had been observing Jeffrey's ministry in Salt Lake City. I was very encouraged by the graciousness and obvious godliness of this Christian leader. Of course, it has been very clear to all parties involved that Jeffrey's ordination by that church does not obviate the PCA training process which was begun by the former New Song organizing pastor."

With regard to Jeffrey pursuing ordination in a church outside the PCA, Mr. Ruff stated: "I approached Phil Stogner, concerned that Jeffrey was continuing ordination process with a church outside the PCA. I thought it might be a signal that he did not intend to pursue ordination with the PCA after all and that we would need to address this head on if such a key leader was distancing himself from our church. It was a great encouragement to me to hear that continuation in the Seattle church's process was actually seen as a healthy means of development by our Salt Lake pastors."