This is the first installment of a yearlong series that will follow
newly appointed United Methodist clergy as they begin their ministry.
6:00 P.M. EST July 16, 2010
The Rev. Brian Rossbert (center) is commissioned by Bishop Richard Wills
(left) and the Rev. John Collett, superintendent of the Nashville
district, during the Tennessee Annual Conference of The United Methodist
Church in Brentwood.
UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
View in Photo Gallery
On this hot June Sunday, the Rev. Brian Rossbert looked like the
same young man who stepped into the pulpit at Centenary United
Methodist Church for the first time on another hot June Sunday last
But something significant had changed.
On June 14, at the Tennessee Annual (regional) Conference, Rossbert
was commissioned as a provisional elder, putting him one step closer to
fulfilling God’s call on his life to be an ordained minister in The
United Methodist Church.
“The service was beautiful,” he said. “My heart was pounding, and I
was spirit-filled. I really didn’t think I was going to feel that way
because nothing is really going to change as far as my ministry goes.”
Rossbert stood with six other “classmates” and heard Bishop Richard
J. Wills Jr. say, “I commission you to be a faithful servant leader
among the people, to lead the church in service, to proclaim the Word
of God and to equip others for ministry, in the name of the Father, and
the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
The Rev. Brian Rossbert (center) gets a hug of congratulations after his
commissioning at the Tennessee Annual Conference of The United
Methodist Church in Brentwood.
View in Photo Gallery
“In that moment, when God starts working and you are surrounded by
people who love you and you are being commissioned for ministry, well,
it was kinda overwhelming. … I was glad my feet hit the steps coming
down because I didn’t know if they were gonna,” Rossbert said.
In the Tennessee Conference, Mark Daniel Allmond, Thad Stephen
Austin, Thad Patrick Kelly, Jin Cheol Kim, Katie Stubblefield Woodard
and Sherry Cothran Woolsey are on the same journey as Rossbert: toward
ordination as a deacon or elder.
The seven will spend time together at retreats organized by the conference, and they will cry and rejoice with each other.
For the past year, Rossbert has been preaching most Sundays, first
at New Bethel, then at Centenary United Methodist churches.
New Bethel is a historic church located in the Pond Creek area of
Pegram in Cheatham County. Families have participated in worship,
mission and spiritual growth in this community of faith for almost 200
Centenary United Methodist Church is a historic church located
in west Nashville. The church’s origins date back to the first decade
of the 19th century.
Both congregations are small but loyal.
After graduating from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington in
2009, Rossbert was appointed to the churches as a licensed local
pastor. He will continue in this appointment at least until the June
2011 annual conference.
Brian and his wife, Laura, live in the parsonage beside Centenary.
“When I saw the house, curtains were the first thing I knew we were going to need,” joked Laura.
She is also following a call to ministry and is attending Vanderbilt Divinity School.
Rossbert said he got into politics while he was attending Adams
State College in Colorado. He said he was drawn to justice issues but
wasn’t a churchgoer.
“It was that good old United Methodist prevenient grace. … God was working on me before I was even aware of it,” he said.
Growing up in Denver, Sundays were always devoted to skiing, he
said. “I like to think my parents instilled good Christian values in me
without hauling me to church.” He was baptized at age 22 at Trinity
United Methodist Church in Denver.
Clothed in righteousness
On June 20, Father’s Day, Rossbert’s sermon, “One Being, Being One,” was from Galatians 3:23-29.
He asked the congregation to write down what traits – good or bad –
made them unique. He then took the pieces of paper and wrapped them in a
white cloth on the altar.
Everyone who is baptized has the same promise, he said.
“Christ’s vision for the church is that we all be clothed in righteousness.”
*Gilbert is a multimedia reporter for the young adult content team.
News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.