on a mission to embody grace and compassion in all relationships

The Laying On of Hands

This post is part of a series on My Faith Journey.

Laying on of HandsWhen I was a junior in college and “felt the call” to ministry, I had no idea where this path would lead.  I just wanted to be open to God’s call in my life.

I knew I would have to be “ordained” if I was going to follow this path as my vocation and my job.  (More about ordination here .)

Each faith group has its own process that varies in time widely from a few weeks to several years.  I was ordained the first time by my home Baptist church when I was 22 years old as a seminarian.  It took just a few weeks.

My path and professional life over the next 30+ years gave me the opportunity to be a pastor, then an associate pastor and pastoral counselor in two congregations, a Chaplain in a HIV/AIDS Clinic, and now as a director of pastoral care at a hospital.

Along the way I followed my wife, Mary Bea Sullivan, to the Episcopal Church as we searched for a new spiritual home together after our marriage. (More about that here …)

So today, I am ordained (Baptist) in my work (Chaplain), and a lay person in my church (Episcopal). Nothing is wrong with that except I want to align my life professionally and personally.  Or put another way, I want to be who I am.  And so I entered a new process, and it has taken a few years in my new church. 

On Tuesday, May 21, 2013, I will be ordained by the Episcopal Diocese of Alabama at Grace Episcopal Church in Cullman, AL at 6:00 pm  as a “transitional Deacon.”  This is the first of two ordinations in the Episcopal Church to remind me of my humility (which is helpful), and then God willing, ordained as a priest in about 6 months or so.

Grace Church is the only Episcopal Church I’ve ever been a member of, and they are the people who have welcomed me and loved me through this process.  You are invited to join us for this blessing.  If you cannot come, your prayers are more than enough.

I plan to continue at the hospital because this is where I feel called to be for now.  That’s really all any of us can say.  After more than three decades I have no idea where this path will lead.  I just want to be open to God’s call in my life.

Finally, I want to share a secret with you.  We have something in common, you and me, because YOU too have been ordained already.

God’s hands were placed on your head at birth, and God was and is, blessing you, ordaining you right now.  Take a moment and just imagine that.  Breathe it in.  The God of the universe is ordaining you.

Hear God’s voice as God leans over to whisper in your ear, “Come and see what I have planned for you.”

This voice is the path to your vocation.  It is your calling.  It’s not so much about how you earn a living, as it is about how you are called to be a blessing to the world.  Be who you already are, you are invited to align your life and bless the world around you.

Where is your path leading you these days?  Can you imagine it?

Be open, come and see what God is planning for you.  And congratulations on your ordination.


Grace Episcopal Church
305 Arnold Street, NE
Cullman, AL 35055
Directions from Grace Episcopal Church website  
Google Maps turn by turn directions



  1. Pamela Rose Vollinger

    Malcolm- This is wonderful news! I am very happy for you and for the Episcopal Church! You are blessings to each other. God’s grace is amazing and the journey is exciting and challenging, when we are open to it, as you are.
    I will keep you in my prayers as you continue to open to discern the voice of God in your life.

    By the way, I see we subscribe to some of the same blogs. I did not realize you had a blog until now.

    In Christ’s Spirit,

  2. Malcolm

    Thanks so much Pam. We have both walked a lot of paths since our meeting in the late ’80’s. I’m proud of who you are and what you are doing in your own ministry. Peace to you my friend.

  3. Eytan

    Mazal Tov!

  4. Malcolm

    Dear Eytan,

    Blessings on you in your ministry as well!

  5. mary bea

    Beautiful! I have heard it said the people ordain their “clergy.” Your life speaks to that. I’m so proud to be your wife and grateful for your openness to the Spirit working in new ways in your life. Thank you for reminding us that we are ALL ordained. AMEN

  6. Malcolm

    Mary Bea, you are a visible sign of the blessing in my life.

  7. Margaret Mary

    We are very proud to have you as our son-in law. God has blessed you and all the people you touch. Love and prayers, to you and Mary Be a

  8. Malcolm

    Margaret Mary, I am thankful for you and Dave and the way your entire family is a blessing to the world.

  9. Angie Wright

    These words: “Finally, I want to share a secret. YOU too are already ordained.
    God’s hands were placed on your head at birth, and God was and is, blessing you, ordaining you right now. Take a moment and just imagine that. Breathe it in. The God of the universe is ordaining you, who trumps a Bishop every time.
    Hear God’s voice as God leans over to whisper in your ear, ‘Come and see what I have planned for you.’”

    Shiver Me Timbers. How powerful. These words make me laugh at the Church’s arrogance to think it can decide who should and shouldn’t be ordained. These words should bless every congregation every Sunday. They will bless my congregation tonight.

  10. Malcolm

    Angie, your encouragement makes me giggle with delight. Thank you for who you are, a blessing to me and so many others.

  11. Simon Bovinett

    Malcolm: This isn’t so much a response to your post and it is to thank you for your years of ministry and friendship. I have been a bit under the weather for a while and I am sorry I could not be with you yesterday for the service at Baptist Church of the Covenant and Open House at 1917.

    How blessed I am to have found the clinic more than twenty years ago and even more so to folks like you who have provided amamzing and loving care to so many.

    Warm regards, Simon

  12. Malcolm

    Dear Sinon, I am fortunate to call you a friend for these almost 20 years. We missed you at our service and open house for the 1917 Clinic. I miss my family at the clinic and go back regularly for hugs.

    Thank you Simon for teaching me about humor, persistence, and grace.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2022 malcolm marler

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑