Pastor Ian Sweeney, president of the British Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, approached the pulpit. He looked at the audience of more than 650 members who had gathered from around Ireland and Northern Ireland. He then turned his back slightly on the audience and focussed his attention on pastor Christian Salcianu, who was sitting on the stage accompanied by his wife, Claudia and daughter, Iris. He delivered a sermon to the three of them apparently oblivious to the crowd in the background. There were no murmurs of complaint however. If anything, pride oozed from the members seated in the hotel conference centre because it was the occasion of pastor Christian’s ordination.
Pastor Christian Salcianu's Ordination Service At the opening of the ceremony choirs from each of pastor Salcianu’s Dublin congregations had belted out joyful and harmonious hymns of praise – evidence of the celebratory atmosphere - an opportunity to affirm their pastor’s giftedness and calling to be a gospel minister. Then a senior pastor, John Lascu, who had travelled from the Franco-Belgian Union Conference, introduced the pastoral family to the congregation.
He told the story of how Christian was born to an Orthodox family in Romania but developed a deep interest in Bible prophecies while a young student in military school. Pastor Lascu remembered his first contact with Christian in 1996 when the young man came to his church in Ramnicu Valcea, Romania to enquire about a book on Sunday Laws. A year later Christian was baptised.
Pastor Christian Salcianu's Ordination Service Pastor Lascu’s account testified of a deep mentoring relationship that had developed between himself and this young lay member who soon became an effective leader and passionate evangelist in his local church. Claudia came into the picture at one of the men’s mutual campaigns. She was baptised, and Christian married her soon afterwards. Four years later Iris was born. There was a journey through seminary, a stint at the publishing house in Romania, and a pastoral placement with Pastor Lascu, this time in Belgium, before pastor Christian and his family moved to Dublin.
The story of a pastoral couple whose ministry clearly carried God's blessing, dovetailed beautifully with pastor Ian Sweeney’s exhortation. His focus was on John 21:14, where the key question that Jesus asked to endorse and underpin Peter’s call to ministry was, “Do you love me?” Pastor Sweeney repeated a constant refrain, “The main motive for ministry is not love of people or the defence of the church…. The great foundation from which me minister is not our adeptness in preaching, seminary training, personality or people skills…. At the heart of all ministry lies love for Christ.”
After the ordination prayer, during which a stage full of pastors laid their hands on the shoulders of the pastoral family to welcome them into the rank of ordained/commissioned clergy, pastor Salcianu thanked his members and colleagues for their support. He paid specific tribute to Claudia who had made significant sacrifices in her own career for the family to follow their calling in ministry.
Pastor Christian Salcianu's Ordination Service
The ordination ceremony was part of the 16th of March day of fellowship of the Irish Mission. There were many highlights during the day, including a rousing sermon on Christian courage by pastor Raafat Kamal, president of the Trans European Division of Seventh-day Adventists. The Irish members were delighted to welcome him to their shores. It was his first visit to an Irish church event in more than a decade.
The occasion was also used to announce that the Church in Ireland and Northern Ireland have officially written a letter to the Trans European Division to apply for conference status. “Conference status recognises the consistent growth of membership and the continued faithfulness of members in their tithes and offerings,” explained pastor Dan Serb, Irish Mission president. “It affords us an opportunity to become more autonomous in the work we are called to do. It will also help raise our status with statutory authorities and communities across the island of Ireland.”
Pastor Christian Salcianu's Ordination Service Reflecting on the day of fellowship, pastor Dan said: “It was very rewarding to see so many of the Irish Mission members coming from all corners of our territory to share in worship, fellowship, and celebration. I witnessed a sense of togetherness and optimism which is very encouraging. The messages and music were Spirit-led and Spirit-filled.” Pastor Christian reported that a member of the congregation had approached him after the ordination ceremony with a comment: “The sermon about Peter was life changing. I felt that I left the room an ordained woman!”
An additional report on the events of the day will appear in the 7 April edition of the Messenger magazine.