Vocational and Ministry Discernment
In recognition of our baptismal covenant, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church provide guidelines for ministry of the people of God. The canons require each diocese to make provision for the affirmation and development of the ministry of all baptized persons, including assistance in understanding that all baptized persons are called to minister in Christ's name, to identify their gifts with the help of the Church and to serve Christ’s mission at all times and in all places. Specific roles express that identity in accordance with God’s calling to each of us to use our unique gifts in the service of God’s kingdom.
In order for an individual to identify the role to which God may be calling him/her, a formal process of discernment may be helpful in discerning God’s call for the church and the individual. Such a discernment process requires time and commitment from the inquirer and his/her sponsoring priest, as well as various other leaders within the diocese. From the onset, it is a process which is often challenging and confusing, and is different for each individual. When vocational discernment leads to a call related to holy orders, a personal journey then becomes a public one, in which the call is further evaluated by the church at large.
It is the hope of the Commission on Ministry that the Diocesan Guidelines for Vocational and Ministry Discernment will assist you on your journey. You are urged to contact the Chair of the Commission on Ministry, Melissa Langford, or the Canon for Christian Formation, Congregational Vitality, and Missional Communities, the Rev. Canon Jimmy Hartley, with any related questions.
It is realistic to allow approximately two years in discerning your vocation and call to ministry. This will allow time for discernment with your sponsoring priest and, if accepted, participation in the Diocesan Vocational and Ministry Discernment Program.
If accepted into the Diocesan Discernment Program the approximate cost to fulfill the canonical requirements related to discernment of holy orders ranges between $2,000 and $3,000. Funding for a background check, psychiatric testing, medical exam, mileage related to internships, and retreats will need to be provided by the inquirer and sponsoring congregation. (It is a canonical requirement that all sponsoring congregations pledge to contribute financially to discernment and formation expenses related to holy orders.)
Discernment Program Application Packet
Prospective Inquirers must submit the Discernment Guide with all additional required documentation by December 1 to be considered for the program. It is recommended that you submit all materials for which you are responsible at one time. Applications will be reviewed by the Commission on Ministry prior to Inquirer interviews, which are scheduled for January of the following year. The program takes place from January through September, with interviews for postulancy in October. As we refine our vocational discernment process, some dates may differ from previous documentation. Please make sure you have the most current version of process documents. When in doubt, check the sidebar on this page or contact Jimmy Hartley.