“It’s all about the call. It’s all about the message. It’s all about the people.” Those were words the Very Rev. John Burwell, Rector of Church of the Redeemer, Orangeburg, stressed in his sermon at the ordination to the priesthood of the Rev. Matthew Rivers, Tuesday, November 27, 2018 at St. John’s Chapel in Charleston.
“It’s not a job. You can’t treat it like one,” said Burwell. “It’s a calling.” He noted that though the ordination itself would be “glorious,” the ministry entails hard, often thankless work and clergy rarely see the result of their efforts.
He encouraged Rivers, using words spoken to him personally by the late Bishop Terry Kelshaw, saying, “Preach the Word – the good news – every Sunday and your church will grow.”
Burwell also encouraged Rivers to focus on the people. Quoting his grandmother, he said, “They don’t care what you know until they know you care.” “Love the people the Lord puts in your path,” he said.
Born and raised in Charleston, Rivers came to know Christ at the early age of 8. Under the discipleship of the Rev. Dallas Wilson, former rector of St. John’s Chapel, he discerned a call to ordained ministry. Both Matthew and his wife, Henrietta, graduated from Trinity School for Ministry in 2018. Shortly afterward, Matthew was ordained to the transitional diaconate on May 29, 2018. He currently serves as the Vicar of St. John’s Chapel, a mission congregation on Charleston’s eastside.
“I’m thankful to all who have supported me and my wife in this journey,” said Rivers, following the ordination. “It is one that started at with the commission of Isaiah 6:8 “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” on my life at the age of 8 years old and now with the response at the age of 51 years old “Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.”
Following the service, the joyous crowd feasted at a celebration hosted by the church in the upstairs hall.