Four men lay on the ground in front of the altar Saturday at Eleventh Street Baptist Church while Bishop Rickey L. Moore Sr. anointed them with oil and lay his cloak over them as part of the consecration ceremony that elevated them to the rank of bishop.
He then helped the men to their feet, placed their bishop’s ring on their right hand and kissed each on both cheeks.
The new bishops were consecrated through an international, nondenominational organization known as The International Bishops Conference & Ministers Fellowship Inc., said Thomas Murrell, pastor of New Salem Missionary Baptist Church in Rockfield and one of the new bishops.
The other new bishops consecrated during the ceremony were Calvin W. Johnson Sr. of Cross of Christ Missionary Baptist Church in Shreveport, La., Charles J. Lawrence of Calvary Baptist Church in Shreveport and Michael Russell of Prayers of the Righteous Interdenominational Church in Shreveport.
For Murrell, the ceremony represents that the new bishops have been set aside for special service to God.
“We’re just being consecrated as servants of God to the universal church,” he said earlier in the week.
Murrell said the ceremony isn’t about changing churches or affiliations, but about accepting a personal calling.
“For me it’s a call to humility, to empty myself of myself and be filled with Christ, be filled with the Holy Spirit,” he said.
Because the organization is nondenominational, it’s also a way to break down denominational walls and traditions in order to bring people together, Murrell said.
Moore, the pastor of Sunrise Baptist Church in Shreveport, said being elevated to bishops means that the men will now serve a region, with a responsibility to recruit and mentor young pastors as well as minister and give advice to people throughout the region.
When they become aware of a need they will alert the organization so members of the organization can join together to help, he said.
“The Bible says there’s one lord, one faith and one baptism,” Moore said.
Denominations involved in the organization include Baptist, Methodist, Church of Christ and others, Moore said.
“We’re not hung up on that,” he said. “It’s about love, honor and respect.”