On Sunday morning, August 30, 2020, First Baptist Church, lead by our pastor, Rev. James A. Jackson Jr., ordained Deaconess Louise Shivers to the position of Deacon, and elevated Sis. Kathy D. Henriques to the position of Deaconess. The service was historic in the fact that Deacon Louise was the first female to be ordained a deacon in the 120 years of the church’s existence.
The Ordination and Elevation Service was officiated by Rev. Carla Jones Brown a pastor at the Arch Street Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia PA and longtime friend of Deacon Louise. Along with delivering God’s Holy Word – Acts 8:9-13 – Rev. Jones Brown also gave the Charge to the Church during the Act of Ordination.
The service attendance was limited to the FBC family and a very small group of invited guests. First Baptist has been observing Covid -19 guidelines of social distancing, etc. since March. However, the entire event was live streamed on Facebook for all to watch. The church has been streaming all church services and other events live since the pandemic began.
The entire event was very much an FBC “Family Affair”, which made it extra special. Aside from Rev. Jones Brown and Deacon Joseph Graham from Emmanuel Baptist Church in Tinton Falls, Deacon Louise’s nephew; the music, welcome, the role of worship leader, deliverer of all diaconate charges, and presenters of the diaconate tools were FBC ministry leaders and members.
Diaconate Chair, Deacon Bellamy Shivers, gave the Charge to the Deacon to his wife, Deacon Louise, with Rev. Jackson doing the Prayer of Ordination. Deacon Bellamy and Rev. Carla participated in the Laying On of Hands with Pastor. During that Charge, Deacon Bellamy laid out all of the duties, responsibilities and expectations of a Deacon at FBC. “A Deacon is to be a Servant of God, humble and waiting on the people of God; a Flagbearer, always defending the faith; an Evangelist, able to explain the Word of God; and a Standard of the Faith, living a life that is pleasing to God.” He continued on touching on the history, importance and spirituality of the position and finished with the official, “Deacon Louise Shivers, welcome to the Diaconate Ministry of First Baptist Church.”
When charging Deaconess Kathy, Deacon Bellamy explained her role in the ministry and added, during the Prayer of Consecration, that she was a true succorer. He stated that he was being obedient to the Holy Spirit when he circled Deaconess Kathy three times invoking the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost while asking God to protect her as she continues to serve Him and the Diaconate Ministry. Here at First Baptist Church, Deacons and Deaconesses serve together.
Near the end of the ceremony, Deacon Louise gave her remarks and thanked a myriad of people for their love and support. She commented on how humbling the ordination was and that her constant prayer was “that God will continue to work on me and mold me into what he would have me to be. I thank God for the opportunity to serve Him, His church and all of His people in a different way. My hope is that, like Esther, God has put me here to be used for such a time as this. This is an awesome assignment that I do not take lightly.”
Deaconess Kathy reiterated those sentiments adding that she is “a true servant of God with a hunger for his Word and that after 14 months of classes, I am looking forward to putting what I have learned into action!”
Pastor Jackson has been very complementary of both women stating that it was Deacon Louise’s spiritual maturity, experience and her continued growth and good works in God’s vineyard that made her an excellent choice to be ordained a deacon. He said that Sis Kathy was being elevated because of her willing spirit, and her caring and helpful nature. He said that he and the church were very excited about the expansion of the Diaconate ministry.