Getting Installed

Protestants and Catholics do it. Jews and Muslims too. Even Sikh religious leaders are “installed” into their offices. It’s as if we are part of the furniture.

installationPeople install new showers, new ovens, new software. People also install other people into positions that, in my denomination, we call “permanent” although nobody is really ever permanently installed.

Just after lunch this Saturday, I will be installed for the third time in my life.

The first time, I was a single 20-something with a black lab puppy installed into a small church in a small town in upstate NY. The second time, I was a married 30-something with an 8 month old installed in a church where I would raise my family for the next couple of decades in Northern Virginia. And this third time, I’m a 50-something empty nester working with 98+ churches in Chicago.

It occurs to me that this could be my last installation. Or maybe not.

I’m just recently believing that it’s possible that – although my parents died young – maybe I won’t. Maybe I’ll live long enough to have a second career after retiring from professional ministry one day. Something involving coffee or wine or travel writing would be lovely.

So here are my questions, if you happen to be a non-clergy person reading this (which frankly would surprise me):

  • Do you feel “installed” in your current job? If you happen to be a dentist or a teacher or a mechanic or a chef or whatever, is there anything about your position that makes you feel “installed”?
  • Was there a ceremony to commemorate your official start?
  • Did you take vows in front of your colleagues and those you serve to declare your intentions?

I didn’t think so.

Clergy are not the only ones installed in the Church. Musicians, educators, and officers are also installed in many congregations, marking our special calling and the commitment to use our gifts to God’s glory and to the benefit of others.

Imagine how cool it would be if everybody – from the person who cuts my hair to the bus driver to the bartender to the prison guard- got to be “installed” in some way, recognizing that – no matter what we do for our daily work – we have a responsibility to our community. Imagine having to state our intentions: that we promise to try to do what we do really well. How great would it be if everybody was asked to do what we do with energy, intelligence, imagination, and love?

So, I’m getting installed Saturday and hope you also have that experience sometime, at least once. It reminds us that the work we do has consequences in the world.

9 responses to “Getting Installed

  1. As a non-clergy person (but “installed” Elder and Deacon in the Presbyterian Church), I LOVE reading your blog! Congratulations on your upcoming installment.


  2. Interestingly enough, the three questions you posed reminded me not of an ecclesiastical installation, but of the swearing-in ceremony for my father after he was re-elected as a county official. I suppose the ceremony is, at its roots, a demonstration of the collective trust and power (whether codified in law or power through leadership and collective empowerment, or a combination of them all) bestowed upon the called individual. I remember feeling “installed” when I took my oath of service after enlisting into the military, and I’m currently hoping to feel “installed” again by receiving a reappointment letter to my position (being a hold-over from the previous administration without that little piece of paper, I’m surprised at how easily my perspective shifted from one of empowerment to one of impotency).

    Congratulations on your upcoming installation! I hope you’ll have lots and lots of pictures taken to share 🙂


  3. Mike – when your child is baptized, you and K. sort of get installed. 🙂


  4. I too, am non-clergy, but installed elder in the PCUSA. Love reading your blog. Your comments today make me think of my marriage vows 44 yrs ago. The other word that comes to mind is commitment.


  5. Our church does a blessing of teachers, which we’ve expanded to include staff and administrators, anyone who works in a school setting, from pre-school to college. As a college administrator, I find it meaningful to be blessed and prayed over and anointed with oil at the start of each school year.

    I’ve written more than one blog post that talks about what it might be like if we similarly blessed everyone in their work lives.


  6. Yet another non-clergy, regular reader and fan of your writing!

    Have been installed as elder and deacon – loved, loved, loved the laying on of hands.

    Blessings on your third installation.


  7. Congratulations, Jan! Thanks for reminding us that we are to reflect God’s presence in the world in everything we do. Wish I could be there today.


  8. Jan.

    When I became a senior executive in my government agency, I was “installed” with a ceremony, a swearing of oath (protect and defend…), and a welcoming from my new peers. I left, to execute functionally the same activities I had been performing the day before as a contractor/consultant) with a fundamentally different perspective BECAUSE of the installation…responsibility, authority (limited to my personal performance mostly), accountability…..serious mental private debates. If we take an “installation” seriously, we emerge from the process a changed life form than when we entered the room. It SHOULD mean something; I believe it DOES for those who take responsible positions voluntarily and enthusiastically.

    Congratulations on your recent installation… much change did your feel this time…composted to last time? And when you become a trained barista, will you feel it, too?


  9. Well — I’m yet another non-clergy reader of your blog. However, a clergy friend guided me to your blog! 🙂

    I’m thinking that it might raise the importance of parenthood if parents were “installed” into the role of mother and father. I suppose Baptism is does this, as it recognizes the role of parents raising their children to know God. And, marriage is sort of an installation into the roles of “husband” and “wife”. Our government officials get installed into their offices, too. Having an installation ceremony might make all of us take our jobs more seriously – and to know that all we do has importance.


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