In Bible times elders were called to be the leaders of the early Christian church. They were ordained with prayer and fasting. The early Dunkards followed the practice of choosing elders according to the Bible. Leaders can be chosen in many different ways. To the early Brethren it was with the guidance of God that they chose this special leader. Each congregation had its own method, but often a stack of hymnals would be used by the members. Each voting member would write the name of a person they felt would be a good leader on a slip of paper. This slip of paper would be placed in the hymnal so no one would know how each person voted. The name with the most votes was chosen as the next minister. Sometimes the person chosen was left wondering "why me." In our early churches we had from two to three preachers usually with some of the larger congregations having more. Often one would speak in German and the other in English. The called ministers considered preaching a duty and therefore should be done without pay. In the early days the minister was called a teacher and later as time went on they would be called a bishop. Before they could officially be called a minister or bishop they had to be ordained by the laying on of hands as a special prayer was spoken. This is a very solemn and special ceremony.
Ministers had some other duties in addition to preaching. They were to appoint meetings, baptize, perform marriage ceremonies, and to help the other ministers in the congregation. In addition to the minister, the early church also had deacons. They too were called by special vote. It is the deacon's duty to visit the church members and help them in times of need. They are also to visit all members at least once a year often close to the time of Love Feast.
Once a year the members of the Brethren had a special meeting called the Annual Meeting. It was a time for ministers and representatives of the congregations to come together and discuss issues of the day and how they affected our congregations and to make suggestions for how to live in the modern world. During the past few weeks we will have a chance to ordain and install a new pastor plus send him to the Annual Meeting. I hope you will have a chance to congratulate Pastor Andy on his accomplishments.