January 7, 2016

Vietnam Mennonite Church ordains 26

Written by  Emily Jones and Gerry Keener
Pastor Lee, Pastor Nghia, Pastor Tuyen, Pastor Trung, Gerry Keener, Pastor Hong An and Pastor Khoa pray for newly ordained Pastor Lung from Hai Phong, Vietnam. Pastor Lee, Pastor Nghia, Pastor Tuyen, Pastor Trung, Gerry Keener, Pastor Hong An and Pastor Khoa pray for newly ordained Pastor Lung from Hai Phong, Vietnam. Photo provided by Gerry Keener and Tuyen Nguyen.

HO CHI MINH CITY, Vietnam – After six years of training and preparation, the Vietnam Mennonite Church (VMC) ordained 26 pastors in Ho Chi Minh City on December 5, 2015.

Pastor Nguyen Quang Trung, president of VMC, officiated at the ordination service for 26 Mennonite pastors who had come from provinces and cities all over Vietnam.

Trung, who celebrated 50 years of ministry in the Mennonite church in Vietnam this year, was keenly aware of and grateful for God’s blessing on the church throughout years of both hardship and opportunity.

Approximately 120 Mennonite leaders and believers joined the festivities. Pastor Huynh Minh Dang, general secretary of the denomination, moderated the ceremony. Pastor Huynh Dinh Nghia, the second vice president, led an opening prayer of thanks to God for blessing the church.

The service included meaningful worship led by a group of Bahnar tribal musicians. Nguyen Hong An, the first vice president, delivered a message based on 1 Peter 5:1-4.

In the ordination service, Trung charged the 26 pastors, most of whom had gained their Ministry Certificates and were serving in pastoral positions in Mennonite churches, to commit themselves fully to the work of the Lord. He urged them to share the gospel with godly passion, take care of the people, be a role model, and carry on the work of the church.

The Ministry Certification Program was taught by VMC pastors, Gerry Keener – a non-resident missionary with Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM) – and Dr. Palmer Becker. Three of the ordained persons were 2014 graduates of the Bachelor of Theology class.

One by one the pastors knelt to receive a blessing and charge as Pastor Trung, Pastor Tuyen Nguyen (Philadelphia, Pa.), Pastor Lee, Pastor Hong An, Pastor Nghia, Pastor Khoa, and Keener commissioned them with the laying on of hands and prayer.

Following the service Trung said, “This event is very meaningful for the Mennonite church; it is an additional opportunity for the church to continue to push forward and develop the Lord’s work in all parts of Vietnam.”

Pastor Minh Dang reminisced about his own ordination five years earlier in March 2010, when he was one of 26 pastors ordained at that time. He reported that since then the VMC has established 25 new places of worship. There are now 52 ordained pastors and about 6,000 new believers.

Among the ordained people were three Kor, two Bahnar and 10 Stieng pastors – all from minority tribal churches. Eleven pastors were from Kinh or ethnic Vietnamese churches.

“It is most gratifying to see these pastors with whom I have worked over the past six years take this next step of commitment in ministry,” Keener said. “My prayer is that God will provide for them and bless them richly as they seek to put into practice what they have been learning.”

When asked what significance this occasion has for him, Pastor Chien from Hai Phong declared, “I am happy to commit myself to a lifetime of service because of His great love!”

Pastor Minh Dang, when asked what pressing needs the church has, said, “We need more leaders and unity.”

In 2007 the Vietnamese government officially recognized the Vietnam Mennonite Church, and the doors opened for the church to legally organize its own leadership training schools.

Gerry and Donna Keener have been serving half-time as non-resident EMM missionaries to Vietnam since 2010 with a focus on theological education and leadership development for the Vietnam Mennonite Church. Gerry was delighted to be present for the ordination.