Call and discernment for ministry in the Diocese of Spokane

Overview

The following is a brief overview of the call and discernment to ministry, particularly ordained ministry in the Diocese of Spokane. For those who are seeking discernment concerning a call to Holy Orders this overview should be used in concert with materials presented at the training of the discernment committees. This material is meant to be helpful, descriptive not proscriptive. During the course of formal discernment questions will arise, the COM is there to help with those questions, please contact the COM for that help.

Call, Vocation, and Discernment

You have engaged to enter a process of inquiry and discernment about vocation. The process concerns both the question of your own vocation and the discernment of that vocation by your sisters and brothers in Christ. The process of discerning God’s desire for our lives is holy work. In taking up this work we give the gift of our very selves to God. As the Rite One Eucharistic Prayer puts it, “…we offer and present unto thee, O Lord, our selves, our souls and bodies, to be a reasonable, holy, and living sacrifice unto thee”. To seek out God’s leading in our lives is an act of generosity and love toward God. To be a companion on such a journey is also a gift to God. Whether in your role as a seeker of God’s will or as a companion along the way, come to the journey with an open heart and an open mind.

We are all imago Dei. Created in the image of God, we participate in God’s presence in the world through all the aspects of our lives. The process of “discernment” or “spiritual direction” draws our participation in God up into consciousness. It is more than “feeling” that God is calling us to a certain task or state of life. Discernment relies on bringing our lives, concerns, and questions into the presence of scripture, reason, and prayer. It continues by noticing and reflecting upon the thoughts and feelings that arise in these times of study and prayer. Then in personal and group reflection upon what has been noticed, the path forward comes more clearly into focus.

The Call to Ministry

Baptized Christians
We are all Christian ministers by virtue of our Baptism. We are all called to share in Christ’s eternal Priesthood. Thus the ministry of the laity is the foundation upon which the Church was established, the structure which gives it strength throughout its history. We emphasize the importance of lay ministry to the lives of individual faith communities and the larger Church. Every Baptized Christian is called upon to bring the presence of Christ into the home, workplace, and the community. We celebrate the gifts that members of the laity bring to the Church, and we recognize that celebration of individual ministry need not, and usually does not, lead to a call to ordination.

Lay ministers with special gifts often need encouragement to allow these gifts to develop. This diocese is committed to helping our laity exercise their ministry. We strongly oppose the view that a lay member with serious commitment to ministry can have that devotion recognized or fulfilled only through ordination. Academic accomplishment, a life of caring and compassion, a history of personal struggle and courage, a strong personal sense of being called, are all valuable assets, but they do not of themselves mean a call to ordination. This diocese seeks ways to affirm and continue to raise up strong, vibrant lay ministers.

Ordained Ministers
Within the context of the general ministry of the people of God, the Church calls out certain men and women for ordained leadership roles. This leadership must be well chosen, highly trained and committed to serving God and the Church. The call to Holy Orders comes to the individual both from God and from the Church. Therefore discernment of the call occurs within the context of the community.

It is the task of COM to assist the Bishop, the individual and the Church mutually to discern and evaluate a vocation to ordination. The need for ordained leadership in our Church suggests that only a very few will exercise their Baptismal ministry through ordination. It is the responsibility of the Bishop and the representatives of the Church to recommend prayerfully – and very possibly to identify and recruit – the candidates for ordained ministry to fulfill the mission of the Church at large.

The Order of Deacons
A deacon is a man or woman called into holy mission in the Church and in the world – to lead the people of God in service in the name of the Risen Christ, and to serve the Church and the world as messenger, agent and attendant.

  • • Deacons are messengers of the Gospel who proclaim the good news to the Church and the world. They do this in part by proclaiming the Gospel in the liturgical assembly and by presenting the needs of the world to the Church. Deacons call all of the members of the Body of Christ to the work of transforming the world by striving for justice and peace among all people.
  • • Deacons are agents of the local Church – the diocese – and are to serve directly under the authority of and are accountable to the Bishop. In this capacity deacons are the “go-betweens” who connect the work of the local congregation to the work of the diocese.
  • • Deacons are attendants who prepare the Holy Table for the Eucharist and help lead the faithful who gather week by week to continue in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of the bread and in the prayers.

The role of Deacon requires unique gifts and formation, serving as an “ordained messenger of the faith” outside the walls of the congregation. Deacons model how to be in the Church and in the world as icons of service, and they have the ability to inspire that life in others.

Deacons help all members of the Body of Christ to be free to find places of connection with God in their lives beyond Sunday morning. Deacons are not those who alone do the work of the Church in the world; rather, they gather, lead, equip, and inform the laity in that work. In all their work, Deacons enhance the ministry of the laity, not supplant it.

Deacons must be academically trained in Holy Scriptures and able to integrate scripture into their Diaconal ministry and the liturgy. They must have an understanding of diakonia and the role of the deacon in the Church. They must be conversant in Christian ethics and societal issues. Some will have the gift and task of preaching and will be trained and licensed to preach. Deacons must be well versed theologically and translate through their work the Church’s understanding of the Paschal mystery, the Incarnation, Baptismal servanthood shared by all Christians, and Eucharistic community.

Because in this Diocese the Diaconate is non-stipendiary, those who are called to this ministry must exhibit the energy necessary for a full schedule of work both in and outside the Church. Deacons serve under the authority of the Bishop and are assigned in the Diocese of Spokane where needed. Deacons will work collaboratively with other ordained and lay leadership. Deacons who minister in congregations will work with a priest and others who have the responsibility for the life and worship of the congregation, and must be comfortable working in such situations.

Deacons will be expected to live a Rule of Life, which includes prayer, immersion in Scripture, self-examination and regular study. Deacons will seek regular continuing education opportunities in order to grow in their vocation. Lastly Deacons will participate in the diocesan community of Deacons as fully as possible.

The Order of Priests
The ministry of the Priest, as a representative of Christ and the Church, is customarily, though not exclusively, within a designated congregation where the Priest serves primarily as celebrant of the sacraments and transmitter and interpreter of the tradition of the faith. The Priest is also a participant in the collegium of presbyters and assists the Bishop in the councils of the diocese. Essential elements for this ministry are prayer, reflection, study, teaching, preaching, so that the sacerdotal life is lived with integrity and depth. In the hands and heart of the Priest should reside such a love of Christ and the Church that others are drawn into the grace of a spiritual life. The one ordained is called to be pastor, priest and teacher.

  • • The Priest is a pastor. He or she will love and serve the people among whom they work, caring for young and old, strong and week, rich and poor. Visiting the sick and shut-in, providing for counseling, being present with members of the Church in all that life brings.
  • • He or she is a priest, leading the congregation in the celebration of the mysteries of Christ’s Body and blood and in the offering to God of our spiritual sacrifices of praise and thanksgiving. The priest declares God’s forgiveness to penitent sinners, pronounces God’s blessing and leads the congregation in the celebration of the sacraments.
  • • The priest is a teacher. Priests share in the baptismal charge to al Christians to proclaim by word and deed the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the priests’ particular responsibility to preach, to instruct the members in the faith, and to prepare members for baptism and confirmation.

The Priest is also responsible for institutional community building, sharing with the Bishop in the overseeing of the Church.

Priests must be academically trained in the Holy Scriptures, in Church history and Christian theology, in Ethics and Moral theology. Priests need to be able to speak to contemporary society, be conversant in Liturgics and Church music and be proficient at the use of the Book of Common Prayer, the Hymnal and all other authorized supplemental texts. Priests must know the theory and practice of ministry, including leadership and the ministries of evangelism and stewardship.

Our Ordinal is clear in the ministry of a Priest, but exactly how each priest of the church exercises that ministry will vary according to their local community. Some will be rectors, some vicars, some serving the sacramental needs of a community while working outside of the institutional church structure. The Priest always serves collaboratively with other leadership in the parish. Education and formation for Priesthood will also vary, some will spend three years in seminary, others will be educated and formed through local classes and distance learning opportunities. No matter which way the ministry is exercises, or how one is formed, all are Priests, called to serve God and the people of God.

Priests will be expected to live a Rule of Life, which includes prayer, immersion in Scripture, self-examination and regular study. Priests will seek regular continuing education opportunities in order to grow in their vocation. A Priest is a representative, calling forth the priesthood of all believers and providing an example of a faithful life in Christ.

Discernment principles

The word discernment is sadly overused, and rarely means the prayerful and careful process of listening for God’s leading on a particular matter that it used to. This prayerful and careful process of listening for God’s leading is exactly the task. The tradition of spiritual discernment requires time to pray, ponder, study and listen to what the Spirit is saying. Discernment is a prayerful and intentional sifting and sorting around a crucial question such as where is God leading us? What is God calling me to do?

Example: do we ever help our youth discern what God might be inviting them to consider as they prepare to enter into college or work? Do we ask each other in the parish how their work life is part of their ministry?

Christian spiritual discernment leaves the outcome of the discernment in God’s hands. This is the hardest principle to put into practice, but is crucial to good discernment. As you discern ask yourself if you can really be at peace with whatever comes from this time of sifting, sorting, praying, studying and choosing. Opening ourselves to new possibilities is spiritually freeing. Anyone who already has their mind made up and cannot be open to any possible outcome should not be part of the discernment group. All members of the group should pray for God’s grace to practice openness.

Everyone is called into ministry by virtue of their baptism, and the ministry can change over place and time. To be open to what God is asking of us now, at this place and time, is crucial. It is also important to understand that the Church views ordination as a state of being not just doing, and therefore the discernment of that state is crucial. Just as baptism itself is a state of being, so is ordination. Therefore it is not something that one can “do today and quit tomorrow when something better comes along”

Good discernment does not go on forever, at some point make a choice and take action. Although good discernment takes time, it is not an excuse to procrastinate. If you are waiting for certainty, forget it. Seek clarity instead. And just because we discern well does not mean we never make mistakes. Having prayed, studied, sifted and sorted to the fullest we need to take a leap of faith and act.

It is impossible to help another discern God’s will for their life if you have never explored God’s will for your own life. The discernment materials we use first ask us to explore as individuals and as a community how we listen to God, what God might be calling each one of us to do.

Discernment is a skill which can be learned and practiced. Therefore this work allows for that learning and practice.

A profile of Deacons and Priests we seek in the Diocese of Spokane

We believe that it is fair and helpful to all who take part in this process for us to be clear about the qualities and attributes we seek. First of all, the Deacons and Priests we seek must be committed to knowing and following Jesus, the Christ, and showing strong signs of growth toward maturity as Christians.

We believe that a person called to ordained ministry must:

  • • Firmly believe the vows he or she will take at ordination regarding the Holy Scriptures and conformity to the doctrine, discipline and worship of the Episcopal Church. She or he will accept the authority of the Bishop and have an open mind and loving heart for those within and outside our Church, who faithfully struggle with their beliefs. He or she will understand that ordination is not a “promotion” and will work collaboratively with all members of the Church.
  • • Show ability to offer leadership in the Church and in the outside world. This would include the capacity to offer an example of faith and discipleship, to collaborate effectively with others and to guide and shape the life of the Church community in its mission to the world as community-builders, competent administrators, and reconcilers. Be comfortable with the public role of ordained ministry. Be known as a person of honesty and integrity.
  • • Be able to speak of his or her vocation to ministry and mission. This sense of vocation will be obedient, realistic, and informed. Be articulate about their faith and life as an effective communicator. Be able and willing to talk openly and honestly about their relationship with God, be recognized as a spiritual person by others.
  • • Show an understanding of the Christian faith and a desire for a deeper understanding. Be in love with the faith, being formed by the Anglican tradition and always open to mystery and God’s continuing revelation. Have a vision of what the community of faith might become and an energy and enthusiasm to inspire others. Delight in shared ministry. Demonstrate personal commitment to Christ and a capacity to communicate the Gospel compellingly and authentically both verbally and non-verbally.
  • • Show evidence of a commitment to a spiritual discipline, involving individual and corporate prayer and worship in the Episcopal tradition. Be able to create a sense of harmony, order and reverence which draws people into the presence of God Be able to deal with people of all age groups even if better at some age groups than others. Be compassionate and able to be present with people in their struggles in life.
  • • Be sufficiently mature and stable to show ability to sustain the demanding role of an ordained minister and to face change and pressure in a flexible and balanced way. Know how to get and receive consultation and personal help when needed. Be wiling to deal with conflict and hard decisions, be able to “follow through.”
  • • Demonstrate self-awareness and self-acceptance as a basis for developing open and healthy professional, personal and pastoral relationships as ministers. Posses a sense of humor, reflecting trust and delight in God’s surprises. Demonstrate emotional awareness. Show respect for the tradition of the Church on matters of ethical issues. Is open to the opinions of others, is able to see the other points of view even when disagreeing with those viewpoints.
  • • Have the necessary intellectual capacity and quality of mind to undertake a course of theological study and pastoral preparation. Is open to life-long learning, is willing to engage in continued theological education.

Perhaps the greatest challenge for today’s Deacons and Priests is to lead the Body of Christ in living out its mission in the world. They must be able to equip the saints for their ministry, not just in the parish, but in the wider world where God-talk and servanthood are alien and risky.

These qualities will be most obvious in well seasoned individuals, though no one is expected to possess all of them. The question is often not “is the person X” but “do we see in this person the potential for X” In those who are still very young, we will seek a particular hunger to grow in these areas. We hope that we will always make room for the godly mavericks who will never fit a checklist.

In recommending Postulants to the Bishop the COM will also consider the particular needs of this Diocese as they may be manifested at various times.

The Ministry of the Priest and Deacon in the local community

From the beginning of time communities have had priests and deacons, called into service by the needs of the community. Today just how this looks and is lived out might on the surface seem different from congregation to congregation. It is our hope that we can articulate principles for calling forth ministry that apply across all sizes and locations of congregations.

  • • All Ministry is called forth from the community to serve the needs of that community

Every community has an identity and has its own needs, hopes and dreams. Every community faces the challenges particular to its setting in location and time. Some of these of course will be similar to many other congregations, some might be unique. It is important that a congregation understands itself, its needs, and its abilities when contemplating the calling of ministers for local service. This is true whether we are talking about a large congregation with members in an urban setting or a rural congregation of few members.

  • • The principle is the same – the needs of the local community call forth the ministry required in the community.

How is this understanding lived out in the Diocese of Spokane?

While there is an aspect of an individual offering themselves for service, it is the community which calls the ministry. So for example, at the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist in Spokane, the community will identify the needs and discuss how best to meet those needs for ministry. This discernment might lead to the call of several full time seminary educated priests with multiple years of experience who will be employed by the Cathedral. Alternatively, the congregation in Grangeville might, upon discernment of that community and its needs for ministry, call forth a priest who is formed locally and earns a living in a different job, working with others in the congregation to make sure that the ministry needs are met. The work and tasks of the priest will be shared among multiple people in the Grangeville example while at the Cathedral those same tasks might all be assigned to one individual priest. But, the principle is exactly the same – it is the community which has called forth the ministry needed.

What does this mean for discernment for ordained?

Since the community calls forth the ministry it needs, the COM looks with skepticism a claim of “I am called to be a priest (or deacon) in this specific community.” This is true for both large and small congregations. On the other hand, those individuals who have been identified and called forth from the congregation after careful and prayerful discernment for recognizable and identified needs will be granted due consideration by COM.

Steps towards Ordination: the Process for Deacons

The individual discernment
When an individual believes that they are being called into a particular ministry, that person should make this known to the local priest, or if there is no priest in the congregation, to the senior warden or bishop’s warden, or to the regional dean. It is expected that the individual has engaged in a period of prayer and reflection regarding this sense of call.

Notification and conversation with the Bishop
After conversation with the local priest or appropriate ecclesiastical authority, it is the expectation of the Bishop that the priest and aspirant have a conversation with the Bishop concerning this sense of call. This is to take place prior to engaging in any formal parish discernment.

Discernment within the local faith community
Upon notification to a parish warden or priest (or regional dean) of a person seeking formal discernment, and upon approval of the Bishop, the COM shall be notified, a local faith community discernment committee formed, and the COM shall provide training for that committee. It is the expectation of the COM that no local discernment committee will undertake the work of that committee without first having training in that work by the COM. This local discernment committee will work with the individual for a period of time that shall not be less than six months, and may be more.

At the completion of this period of time the local discernment committee shall write a report that answers in detail the questions at the end of the “moving more deeply into Christ” material. The report also includes the following: what particular ministry the individual and committee has discerned that the individual has been called to, what strengths this person brings to this ministry, what areas of growth are identified, what concerns are expressed

The report of the discernment committee is sent to the vestry. The vestry (or bishop’s committee) interviews the individual, and decides whether or not to nominate the individual to the Bishop for Postulancy. The vestry should have received and be familiar with the “suggestions for interviewing and the ordination process” from the COM prior to this interview.

If the vestry recommends nominating the individual for Postulancy, the report of the discernment committee is included with the letter of nomination.

The local faith community shall put into the nomination letter their full and complete understanding that this nomination for Postulancy involves the commitment of the community to 1) contribute financially to the preparation and 2) involve itself in the nominee’s preparation for ordination, as is required by the Canons of this Church.

After the nomination for Postulancy has been sent to the Bishop, and the individual has written their acceptance of that nomination, the Bishop may decide to formally interview the individual. This interview usually includes the parish priest, or representative of the local faith community.

The Bishop makes the decision to either send on the nomination letter to the COM, or advise the individual regarding continuing discernment within the local faith community.

Upon receipt of the letter of nomination from the Bishop, the COM will ask the individual to fill out the Postulancy application. Upon completion of that Postulancy application, the individual will be invited to interview with the COM. After that interview, the COM makes a recommendation to the Bishop regarding Postulancy. The recommendation from the COM will include the COM’s perception of strengthens, weaknesses, and areas of concern or growth, and will be sent to the Bishop, the individual, and local discernment committee.

The Bishop may grant Postulancy at this time, or may decline to grant Postulancy.

Postulancy – discernment within the wider diocesan community – 1 year is usual but not guaranteed.

Postulancy is considered a period a discernment within the wider faith community as well as continuing discernment in the local faith community. Postulancy involves continued exploration and decision about the Postulant’s call to Holy Orders. The COM’s recommendation to grant Postulancy makes no assumption that the individual will be ordained. This is simply granting permission to continue with formal discernment.

During Postulancy the postulant shall:

  • • Complete the medical examination required, the forms are available in the diocesan office.
  • • Complete the psychological examination required. A fee of $150 is paid to the diocese, only approved diocesan psychologists are allowed, the diocesan office has the list of those approved.
  • • Complete a background check
  • • Compete the required financial paperwork
  • • Continue to meet with the local faith community discernment committee
  • • Undertake an assignment, usually in a different congregation, given by the Bishop and the COM which is designed to further explore the call to ministry
  • • Participate in the formal Diocesan Postulancy program.
  • • Every postulant shall communicate with the Bishop, or ecclesiastical authority, by letter four times a year, in the Ember weeks, reflecting on progress in personal, spiritual, and educational development. Failure to do so indicates a lack of desire to proceed.

The postulant, after completing the above requirements, shall request from the COM the formal candidacy application paperwork. The postulant shall have an interview with the vestry or Bishop’s committee, which shall write a recommendation to the COM on the postulant’s application for candidacy. If the postulant has been assigned discernment work in a different congregation, a letter from that congregation is also required. It is the postulant’s responsibility for ensuring that all formal paperwork is to the COM at least 30 days prior to any interview for candidacy. No interview for candidacy shall be scheduled without a complete application file.

The COM shall interview the Postulant regarding their application for Candidacy. The COM will send a written recommendation to the Bishop and the Standing Committee regarding the application for Candidacy. This recommendation will also be sent to the Postulant and the local faith community.

The Standing Committee shall interview the Postulant regarding their application for Candidacy, and make a recommendation to the Bishop.

The Bishop will make a decision regarding granting Candidacy or denying such application.

Candidacy – 18 months is usual but not guaranteed.

Candidacy is a program of formation, skills development, academic preparedness and ongoing discernment. In the words of the Canons of our Church, “candidacy is a time of education and formation in preparation for ordination, established by formal commitment by the Candidate, the Bishop, the Commission, the Standing Committee, and the congregation or other community of faith.”

During candidacy the candidate shall:

  • • Participate in the Diocesan program of deacon formation, this program includes the academic and practical formation required. (This deacon formation program continues for two years after ordination!)
  • • Take the various required courses such as the “Safeguarding God’s Children” and the Anti-Racism training, which are mandated by Canon.
  • • Every candidate shall communicate with the Bishop, or ecclesiastical authority, by letter four times a year, in the Ember weeks, reflecting on progress in personal, spiritual, and educational development. Failure to do so indicates a lack of desire to proceed.

The Candidate, upon completion of the above, shall request from the COM the application for ordination.

The vestry or Bishop’s Committee shall interview the candidate and make a recommendation to the Bishop regarding ordination.

Upon receipt of the complete application packet for ordination the COM will schedule an interview with the Candidate. The COM will make their recommendation regarding ordination to the Bishop and the Standing Committee

The Standing Committee shall interview the candidate, and make a recommendation to the Bishop.

Ordination and post-ordination

The Bishop may ordain the Candidate.

The Canons of this Church require continuing education and formation for Priests and Deacons.

Two years of a formal formation program immediately following ordination is required for all deacons in this diocese. Acceptance of candidacy involves formal acknowledgement of this requirement and willingness to participate in this program. Failure to participate in the formation program will result in having the license to serve revoked until the program is completed.

The Bishop may require an accounting of continuing education. Currently the Archdeacon is responsible for collection of continuing education reports from all Deacons.

Steps towards Ordination: The Process for Priests

The individual discernment

When an individual believes that they are being called into a particular ministry, that person should make this known to the local priest, or if there is no priest in the congregation, to the senior warden or bishop’s warden, or to the regional dean. It is expected that the individual has engaged in a period of prayer and reflection regarding this sense of call.

Notification and conversation with the Bishop
After conversation with the local priest or appropriate ecclesiastical authority, it is the expectation of the Bishop that the priest and aspirant have a conversation with the Bishop concerning this sense of call. This is to take place prior to engaging in any formal parish discernment.

Discernment within the local faith community
Upon notification to a parish warden or priest (or regional dean) of a person seeking formal discernment, and upon approval of the Bishop, the COM shall be notified, a local faith community discernment committee formed, and the COM shall provide training for that committee. It is the expectation of the COM that no local discernment committee will undertake the work of that committee without first having training in that work by the COM. This local discernment committee will work with the individual for a period of time that shall not be less than six months, and may be more.

At the completion of this period of time the local discernment committee shall write a report that answers in detail the questions at the end of the “moving more deeply into Christ” material. The report also includes the following: what particular ministry the individual and committee has discerned that the individual has been called to, what strengths this person brings to this ministry, what areas of growth are identified, what concerns are expressed

The report of the discernment committee is sent to the vestry. The vestry (or bishop’s committee) interviews the individual, and decides whether or not to nominate the individual to the Bishop for Postulancy. The vestry should have received and be familiar with the “suggestions for interviewing and the ordination process” from the COM prior to this interview.

If the vestry recommends nominating the individual for Postulancy, the report of the discernment committee is included with the letter of nomination.

The local faith community shall put into the nomination letter their full and complete understanding that this nomination for Postulancy involves the commitment of the community to 1) contribute financially to the preparation and 2) involve itself in the nominee’s preparation for ordination, as is required by the Canons of this Church.

After the nomination for Postulancy has been sent to the Bishop, and the individual has written their acceptance of that nomination, the Bishop may decide to formally interview the individual. This interview usually includes the parish priest, or representative of the local faith community.

The Bishop makes the decision to either send on the nomination letter to the COM, or advise the individual regarding continuing discernment within the local faith community.

Upon receipt of the letter of nomination from the Bishop, the COM will ask the individual to fill out the Postulancy application. Upon completion of that Postulancy application, the individual will be invited to interview with the COM. After that interview, the COM makes a recommendation to the Bishop regarding Postulancy. The recommendation from the COM will include the COM’s perception of strengthens, weaknesses, and areas of concern or growth, and will be sent to the Bishop, the individual, and local discernment committee.

The Bishop may grant Postulancy at this time, or may decline to grant Postulancy.

Postulancy

Postulancy for the priesthood involves not only ongoing discernment but formation – academic, practical and spiritual formally starts at this time. The COM’s recommendation to grant Postulancy makes no assumption that the individual will be ordained.

During Postulancy the postulant shall:

  • • Complete the medical examination required, the forms are available in the diocesan office.
  • • Complete the psychological examination required. A fee of $150 is paid to the diocese, only approved diocesan psychologists are allowed, the diocesan office has the list of those approved.
  • • Complete a background check
  • • Compete the required financial paperwork
  • • Every postulant shall communicate with the Bishop, or ecclesiastical authority, by letter four times a year, in the Ember weeks, reflecting on progress in personal, spiritual, and educational development. Failure to do so indicates a lack of desire to proceed.
  • • May start formal formation – see the section below on “formation” for more details on the options for this work

Application for candidacy normally takes place at roughly the half-way point in the postulant’s studies. For those in seminary candidacy applications normally occur in the middler year. The postulant shall have an interview with the vestry or Bishop’s committee, which shall write a recommendation to the COM on the postulant’s application for candidacy. The seminary or mentor will write a recommendation regarding candidacy. It is the postulant’s responsibility for ensuring that all formal paperwork is to the COM at least 30 days prior to any interview for candidacy. No interview for candidacy shall be scheduled without a complete application file.

The COM shall interview the Postulant regarding their application for Candidacy. The COM will send a written recommendation to the Bishop and the Standing Committee regarding the application for Candidacy. This recommendation will also be sent to the Postulant and the local faith community.

The Standing Committee shall interview the Postulant regarding their application for Candidacy, and make a recommendation to the Bishop.

The Bishop will make a decision regarding granting Candidacy or denying such application.

Candidacy

Candidacy is a program of ongoing formation, skills development, academic preparedness and ongoing discernment. In the words of the Canons of our Church, “candidacy is a time of education and formation in preparation for ordination to the Priesthood, established by formal commitment by the Candidate, the Bishop, the Commission, the Standing Committee, and the congregation or other community of faith.”

During candidacy the candidate shall:

  • • Every candidate shall communicate with the Bishop, or ecclesiastical authority, by letter four times a year, in the Ember weeks, reflecting on progress in personal, spiritual, and educational development. Failure to do so indicates a lack of desire to proceed.
  • • Complete the approved formation program, see below for more details
  • • The seminary or other formation program shall provide for, monitor and report on the academic performance and personal qualification of the (Postulant) or Candidate for ordination. These reports will be made upon request of the Bishop and Commission, but at least once per year.

The Candidate, upon completion of the above, shall request from the COM the application for ordination.

The vestry or Bishop’s Committee shall interview the candidate and make a recommendation to the Bishop regarding ordination.

Upon receipt of the complete application packet for ordination the COM will schedule an interview with the Candidate. The COM will make their recommendation regarding ordination to the Bishop and the Standing Committee

The Standing Committee shall interview the candidate, and make a recommendation to the Bishop.

Ordination to transitional diaconate – 1 year is usual

The Bishop may ordain the Candidate to the transitional diaconate

The COM does not usually formally interview for ordination to the priesthood, but may require this. A written report and application is required.

Ordination to the Priesthood.

The COM will make their recommendation regarding ordination to the Bishop and the Standing Committee

The Standing Committee shall interview the candidate, and make a recommendation to the Bishop.

The Canons of this Church require continuing education and formation for Priests and Deacons. The Bishop may require an accounting of said continuing education. Currently the Canon to the Ordinary is responsible for collection of continuing education reports from all priests.

Formation programs

There are multiple aspects of formation. Part of the task is simply to find and take the various diocesan classes such as those on racism and sexual misconduct. Academic education and formation can take place in a variety of ways, it will be important that the candidates have open and honest conversations with the Bishop and COM about formation and ministries goals and the long term consequences of the different formation programs. There are currently several approved tracks for formation.

  1. A M.Div. from an approved seminary
  2. The HyCAS or TEEM program at CDSP, or a similar program at an Episcopal Seminary
  3. An approved course of study which must consist of the following:
    1. One class each in OT, NT and 2 scripture electives
    2. One class each in systematic theology and moral theology (ethics)
    3. Two classes in church history, one prior to the reformation and one post-reformation, and one additional church history elective
    4. One class in liturgy
    5. three additional electives
    6. 2 summers of the Anglican immersion at CDSP of the equivalent (“the equivalent” is an approved formation immersion experience at an Episcopal seminary)
    7. Instruction in preaching, which may include the diocesan preaching class, but must be more than that class
    8. Pastoral care instruction and practice, which may be accomplished in a local program
    9. Field education program and reflection with an assigned mentor
    10. End of study evaluation such as the General Ordination Exams