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Local minister becomes church elder

Yvonne Mercer-Staten has achieved the highest order of ministry in the United Methodist Church

Yvonne Mercer-Staten has achieved the highest order of ministry in the United Methodist Church

September 02, 2002|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The new century has already been quite extraordinary for the Rev. Yvonne Mercer-Staten but this summer, she realized a lifetime achievement that left her breathless.

In June ceremonies at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., Mercer-Staten became an elder in the United Methodist Church. She was formally installed in Hagerstown a month later.

"This is the highest order of ministry in the United Methodist Church," she said. "As elders, we acknowledge that we are called to a lifetime ministry of word, sacrament and order."

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Previously, Mercer-Staten had been an ordained deacon in her capacity as pastor of Asbury United Methodist Church at 155 Jonathan St. for the past three years.

The process for achieving elder status began with extensive educational credits.

In May 2000, she attained her doctor of ministry degree at the Howard University School of Divinity in Washington, D.C. Two years earlier, Mercer-Staten earned her master of divinity degree and was ordained a deacon in the United Methodist Church at the National Cathedral.

"You then must be a full-time pastor for three years and be voted on," she said. An overnight retreat caps off the quest as the elder candidate is quizzed on theology, doctrine, sacraments and ethics.

One class a year is sponsored by the Baltimore-Washington conference, Mercer-Staten said. The class of 2002 included Mercer-Staten and 14 other candidates.

Mercer-Staten's call to the ministry came after years of being involved in a very different kind of career.

Her last position prior to attending seminary was as a manager of international contracts for a major defense contractor. In that position, she directed an international contracts and proposal division in foreign sales of heavy ordnance equipment.

She traveled the world extensively, conducting proposal presentations and contract negotiations with representatives of foreign governments' ministries of defense and procurement.

It was a rewarding career but the call to the ministry was stronger, she said.

"I'm trying to equip our people to go out in the neighborhood and take the light of Jesus into the lives of those who need it so much," Mercer-Staten said.

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