Holy Orders Process
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ Ephesians 4:11-12
The process of discerning a call to Holy Orders in The Episcopal Church is dictated by The Episcopal Church and the Albany Diocese’s Constitution and Canons. The Commission on Ministry will guide you through the Discernment/Ordination process. Below is a summary:
The initial time of discerning a call to Holy Orders. An individual may:
1. Seek prayer and counsel from his/her spouse and family members, a spiritual director, the parish priest, diocesan personnel and other trusted individual(s)
2. Attend a Holy Orders Interest Meeting (see the Diocesan calendar for upcoming opportunities)
3. Request (and submit) an Application for Holy Orders from the Chair of the Commission on Ministry.
o Once submitted, the Application will be read by the Diocesan Review Team
o The Commission on Ministry may form a Discernment Team to lead the individual through formal discernment activities (over four to six months or longer) and provide a recommendation.
o The Commission on Ministry may schedule the individual for an interview:
§ The individual must be a Confirmed (or Received) Communicant of a parish within the Albany Diocese. Vestry and Rector Nomination from the parish is required before the interview.
The Commission on Ministry may make recommendation to the Bishop for his consideration of Postulancy. During postulancy, one’s discernment to Holy Orders continues.
1. The Bishop will review the Application for Holy Orders, along with recommendations from the Discernment Team and Commission on Ministry. The Aspirant will meet with the Bishop and the Bishop will then make the determination on Postulancy.
2. If made a Postulant:
o The individual will apply to and begin formal education and formation. For the Priesthood, s/he will apply to a Diocesan-approved seminary, either a residential or distance-learning program. For the Diaconate, s/he will attend the Diocesan Deacon Formation Program. Formal education will last two to three years (on average).
o The individual will correspond with the Bishop on all Ember Days reflecting on the Postulant’s academic, diaconal/priestly, human, spiritual, and practical development.
The individual will apply for Candidacy during the last year of formal education. During Candidacy, one’s discernment to Holy Orders continues. Candidacy requires the Bishop’s determination and the following items:
1. Application for Candidacy
2. Update to the individual’s Spiritual Autobiography
3. Vestry and Rector Nomination
4. Progress Report, Evaluation and Recommendation from Seminary or Deacon Formation Program
5. Commission on Ministry interview and Recommendation
6. Standing Committee interview and Recommendation
The Diocese will send the individual information to complete additional canonical requirements (at the individual’s expense). These must be within 36 months of Ordination:
1. Information Release
2. Oxford Background Check
3. Medical Evaluation from your personal physician
4. Psychological Evaluation by the Diocesan-approved psychologist
5. Review and Agreement with the Diocesan Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures
The individual will also complete the following prior to Ordination:
1. Level One of the School of Healing Prayer
3. Internship experience (fieldwork) in non-sponsoring parish (for diaconal candidates this occurs during the third year of the Deacon Formation Program)
4. Clinical Pastoral Education (1/4 unit) for those discerning a call to the priesthood
5. Albany Ordination Examination for those discerning a call to the priesthood. The AOE is typically given in January of one’s final year of seminary.
Ordination to the Diaconate
Cannot occur until the individual is 24+ years of age, and for vocational deacons at least 18 months has passed since Nomination. Ordination date and location is scheduled by the Bishop’s office. Ordination to the Diaconate also requires:
2. Vestry and Rector Nomination
3. Diocesan Ordination Covenant
4. Letter of Recommendation for Ordination and Transcript with Evaluation from seminary or Diocesan Deacon Formation program
5. Field Work Supervisor feedback
6. Commission on Ministry letter of recommendation for Ordination
7. Interview with, and Certification from, the Standing Committee.
*The Deacon will be assigned by the Bishop to a Parish (which may differ from sponsoring parish)
Ordination to the Priesthood
Cannot occur until six months following diaconal ordination and at least 18 months has passed since Nomination. Ordination date and location is scheduled by the Bishop’s office. Ordination to the Priesthood also requires:
2. Vestry and Rector Nomination
3. Letter of Recommendation for Ordination and final Transcript from seminary
4. Statement of Diaconal Ministry Experience
5. Commission on Ministry letter of recommendation for Ordination
6. Certification from the Standing Committee.