Centro Koinonia celebrates historic milestone with ordination
Posted on November 18, 2012 by VMMissions Staff
One of the greatest satisfaction cross-cultural missionaries can experience is leaving the churches they’ve planted in the hands of qualified national indigenous leaders. To reach this goal however, missionaries must intentionally focus on a careful strategy of involving local believers in everything they do and dedicate much time, prayer, and energy to discipling/mentoring. This is vital in cultural contexts where the process of training and choosing leaders is extremely delicate. There probably aren’t many vocations in which one is expected to work oneself out of a job!
In Bari, after years of disappointments, derailments, and detours God has brought us to this significant day! On September 9, following months of preparation, teaching, and seeking the Lord, Centro Koinonia congregation gathered in one accord to witness the official ordination of Nicola Cippone, as minister and Lia Semilia as deaconess.
For several years already both Nicola and Lia have been blessing the church as they humbly exercised their spiritual gifts in these capacities. Both are known for their faithful service of love and highly esteemed for their example of faith. They will serve on the leadership team along with Chris and Melody Riddle.
Interestingly, Nicola and his wife Francesca were discipled more than 20 years ago by church planters Giovanni and Fiorella Greco (our colleagues in central Italy). Even then he recognized Nicola’s gifts and encouraged their development. One highlight of the ordination service was the presence of the Grecos and the warm-hearted tribute to Nicola that Giovanni shared.
In recent years the Cippones came to Centro Koinonia from other settings where Nicola had had opportunities to assist in teaching youth and preaching. Lia has demonstrated a growing, transforming faith in the face of many personal trials and identifies strongly with her spiritual family in the Mennonite church since her conversion during the ministry of Tim and Karen Green, VMM workers.
“What you have heard from me before many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also”—an important key for church growth and multiplication, given by the Apostle Paul. Centro Koinonia truly has reason to celebrate a significant milestone!
Ordination ceremony led by Willard Eberly (left) Lia Semilia, Nicola and Francesca Cippone. (Francesca leads children’s S.S. program and was chosen by the women to coordinate their fellowship.) Photo courtesy of author
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