Faculty, staff, students and members of the broader community joined Sarah Bixler, instructor at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, for her Oct. 20 service of ministerial ordination in Virginia Mennonite Conference. The service took place in Martin Chapel and was also livestreamed through the seminary’s Facebook page.
Bixler teaches formation and practical theology, and offers leadership to the formation curriculum that is central to all seminary programs. She is finishing a doctorate in practical theology at Princeton Theological Seminary, with an emphasis on Christian education and formation.
The Rev. Dr. Clyde Kratz and Dr. Nancy Heisey, associate dean of the seminary, officiated with a meditation offered by the Rev. Dr. Darrell Guder, professor of missional and ecumenical theology emeritus at Princeton Theological Seminary.
“Sarah’s ministering and leadership gifts have been visible for many years,” Heisey said. “Her ordination solidifies her roles as mentor and model for our students. Ordination also sustains EMS as a ministry hub for Mennonite Church USA and strengthens our accreditation by the Association of Theological Schools.”
Kratz has known Bixler for some time and observed “firsthand her gifting for leadership ministry when she served as youth minister at Zion Mennonite Church, and in her Virginia Conference role as Youth Minister and Conference Coordinator.”
“Sarah brings a refreshing enthusiasm to relationships, a grounded commitment to the faith community’s values, and intellectual curiosity in the pursuit of knowledge,” Kratz said. “Her seminary education has prepared her not only to be a high quality faculty member at Eastern Mennonite Seminary, but also a faith leader that will provide inspiration for the next generation of pastors and leaders in Mennonite Church USA and beyond.”
Bixler said that her ordination, particularly by VMC, “is a beautiful culmination of my past ministry experiences and ongoing sense of vocation.”
She spent a decade in ministry in the Shenandoah Valley, including working on VMC’s staff, before beginning studies at Princeton Theological Seminary to prepare to teach in theological education.
“I am grateful to all those persons and communities who affirmed and helped clarify my vocation along the way, and I’m grateful that many could be present to mark this milestone with me through our on-campus and virtual formats for the ordination service,” she said. “Being ordained in the context of EMS and VMC affirms my conviction that seminary education is in the service of the church, as local expressions of the body of Christ participate in God’s reconciling mission in the world.”
The Rev. Glen Guyton, executive director of Mennonite Church USA, read from John 15:12-17. He and Bixler have known each other since both served in youth ministry in VMC, Bixler said.
“I’m so thankful for the gifts that she brings to the church,” Guyton said, before offering the final blessing.