[The Episcopal Church in Minnesota] The Rt. Rev. Brian Prior, IX Bishop of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, will ordain 33 people on Saturday, June 20. Of these 33, six are Hmong members of Holy Apostles, the first Hmong-majority faith community within the Episcopal Church.
Two of the six are being ordained as vocational deacons, while the other four will be ordained as transitional deacons. God willing and the people consenting, the four transitional deacons will be ordained as priests next year.
Thomas Thao, one of the four being ordained as a transitional deacon, is very excited about this opportunity, especially knowing that he’ll be a positive role model for others in his community.
“This is very meaningful to me because I’ll be able to share my gifts and talents with others,” said Thao.
He added, “This opportunity leads me on a new journey and will allow me to continue growing my faith while sharing my experiences with others.”
The six ordinands include three women and three men; Bao Moua will be the first Hmong woman to pursue the priesthood.
“The most exciting thing about June 20, 2015, is that for over 40 years of the Hmong people being in the U.S., the Episcopal Church will be ordaining its first Hmong majority Shared Ministry Team, three of whom are women,” said Moua.
“This is history in the making, and with God’s help we have only begun our mission,” she added.
In addition to the six Hmong being ordained, one Anglo from Holy Apostles will be ordained as a vocational deacon. The seven ordinands from Holy Apostles, in addition to seven others who will be commissioned for lay ministries in December, will make up Holy Apostles’ Shared Ministry Team. They will be leading worship, pastoral care, mission and evangelism, and Christian formation; they will also collaborate with the Bishop’s Committee.
The Shared Ministry Team has been in formation for three years. Instructors have been drawn from local seminaries in addition to clergy, lay instructors, and missioners from the Episcopal Church. All instruction has been interpreted from English to Hmong to make the program accessible to team members who are not fluent in English.
The team will be working with the support and collaboration of The Rev. Letha Wilson-Barnard, Holy Apostles’ Vicar and Mentor to the Team, and The Rev. Toua Vang, Associate Priest of Holy Apostles and Hmong/Southeast Asian Missioner of Episcopal Asiamerica Ministries (EAM).
The Bishop’s Committee and Shared Ministry Team have already begun meeting regularly to develop the mission and vision for Holy Apostles. This Shared Ministry Team provides new opportunities for ministry, mission, and evangelism to the Hmong community in Minnesota, the United States, and the world.