Inside the majestic, reverent sanctuary of St. John’s Church in Brownwood Saturday morning, a large crowd sang and prayed as deacon Spencer Stubblefield was ordained as a priest in the Anglican Church.
Bishop Jack Iker of Fort Worth ordained Stubblefield, 25, in a service that involved numerous robe-wearing Anglican clergymen from the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Stubblefield, who is from Weatherford, has been assigned to St. John’s as a curate since July. He will remain as a curate through July 2021.
Stubblefield’s parents and several other family members were among the congregation Saturday morning.
“From this day forward, Spencer, you are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek,” the Rev. Joel Hampton, rector of Holy Apostles Church in Fort Worth, said as he addressed Stubblefield and the congregation.
“You will be called Father by members of your spiritual family.”
Hampton also told Stubblefield he is called to sacrifice and serve, and reminded Stubblefield he is call to be “an icon of Christ.”
In an earlier interview, Stubblefield said he knew he was called to the ministry between his eighth and ninth grades in school, in the summer of 2008.
Stubblefield graduated from Oklahoma State University in 2016 with a degree in political science. The process to become a priest involved an interview with diocese clergymen to affirm his calling, make sure he was compatible with the priesthood and approve him for seminary.
Stubblefied attended a seminary in Wisconsin, where he recently earned a master of divinity and was assigned by the Fort Worth diocese to serve the Brownwood church as a curate for a two-year assignment.
During the ordination service Saturday, a white-robed Stubblefield knelt in front of Iker, who asked Stubblefield if he will be loyal “to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.”
“I do believe the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New testaments to be the word of God and to contain all things necessary to salvation, and I consequently hold myself bound to conform my life and ministry thereto,” Stubblefield replied. “And I do solemnly engage to conform to the doctrine, discipline and worship of Christ as this church has received them.”
At a later part of the service called “The Examination,” Iker asked Stubblefield if he is called by God and the church to the priesthood.
“I believe I am so called,” Stubblefield replied.
Iker asked Stubblefield several other questions, including whether Stubblefield will commit to being a faithful pastor and do his best “to pattern his life in accordance with the teachings of Christ” so be a wholesome example.
“I will,” Stubblefield replied.
At one part of Stubblefield’s ordination, his parents, Jim and Donna Stubblefield, carrying the red robe of a priest, approached their son from behind as Stubblefield knelt before the bishop. The elder Stubblefields draped the robe over the head and shoulders of their son.
The newly ordained priest stood and faced the congregation. “The peace of the Lord be with you always,” Stubblefield said.
As the service concluded, Stubblefield helped serve communion and gave a blessing to each person that came to the altar.
“It’s an amazing experience,” Stubblefied said after the service. “I think the service was beautiful, very well done. I could clearly see the support of everyone here — my family, friends, just to see everyone come out for my day was amazing and I couldn’t have asked for a better ordination.”
Spencer had been a priest for only a few minutes, and he said it “hasn’t sunk in yet. Not too many people have called me Father yet so it hasn’t really sunk in.
“A couple of times during the service I was getting a little choked up, (thinking) ‘man, this is it.’
“It wasn’t until I was in here that it really started hitting me. It’s going to take some getting used to. Right now we’re still getting the nerves out. Especially as I was saying words, nerves were all over the place.”
Continuing at St. John’s as a curate, Stubblefield said, “my main is to minister to the people of St. John’s, while also learning the role of ministry for myself. It’s both educational and service. Foremost is to minister to the people, whether that be through celebrating the mass or teaching classes, being part of meetings.”
And there will be other tasks to turn, such as reading a budget sheet, Stubblefield said.
The newly minted priest said he can be both serious and lighthearted. “If I’m up at the altar I’ve very serious,” Stubblefield said. “If I’m teaching I kind of add playfulness to it.
“I’ve overall been a fairly outgoing person and if I’m in the mood I can be quite bubbly. I do try to use my young outgoing spirit to bring something to the table that I can offer.”