Discernment

 

Answering God’s Call
Ministry Discernment in the Diocese of Maryland

The four aspects of call as described by Bishop Sutton

All four must be present when moving towards holy orders. This discernment process addresses all aspects.

  1. General call – all Christians are called, by nature of their baptism, to ministry and service. (Sometimes in a time in life when this call is felt more strongly than before, inquirers assume this must mean a call to ordination).
  2. Interior/secret call – a deepening sense within of a specific ministry or work to which God is calling you.
  3. Providential call –the gifts, talents, and experiences one has been given to carry out God’s call (important to explore whether the interior and providential correspond).
  4. Ecclesiastical call – the Church’s affirmation of a call; the Church’s call will reflect different needs in times and contexts.

Through relationships, faith formation, giving, mission and outreach, and participation in liturgy and sacrament, ongoing discernment about the particular ways each Christian might share in Christ’s ministry and live out the baptismal covenant is rooted in the parish or local faith community. Yet sometimes other communities within the wider Church are helpful, even necessary, for deepened discernment.

The Commission on Ministry in the Diocese of Maryland offers the following diocesan programs to those who seek discernment both within and beyond their parishes, and for the communities that support them.

Discerning towards a deeper sense of vocation and ministry

People interested in learning more about both lay (Canon 4 – Of Licensed Ministries) and ordained ministry, and to explore the ministry to which God is calling them, are invited to enroll in Exploring Baptismal Ministry (EBM). EBM is a one year program, beginning in September and ending in June. People in EBM work together with a peer cohort, with a mentor team consisting of a lay person, a priest, and a deacon, and with a lay committee in their home parish. The lay committees are trained in the Listening Hearts method and are asked to read Listening Hearts 20th Anniversary edition prior to the training. Applications for EBM are received through July 1.

Download and print an EBM Application
(Adobe PDF)

Contact Dawn Kline, dkline@archive.episcopalmaryland.org, for additional information.

Nomination for Holy Orders and continued discernment

Near the end of the EBM discernment year, the parish may nominate their participant in writing for ordination to the Diaconate or Priesthood.

After nomination by rectors and vestries, submission of an application, completion of EBM, psychological and physical exams, background checks, and interviews with the Bishop and the Commission on Ministry, those interested in exploring more deeply a priestly or diaconal call, discerning whether to accept their parish Nomination, enter Discerning Ordained Vocation (DOV). DOV meets from September through January and includes an assigned parish internship. People in DOV work with a peer cohort, with a mentor team consisting of a lay person, a priest, and a deacon, and with a lay committee in their internship parish. The lay committees are trained in the Listening Hearts method and are asked to read Listening Hearts 20th Anniversary edition prior to the training. Application for Postulancy and Postulancy interviews with the Commission on Ministry and the Bishop complete this phase of the program.

Applications for DOV are due by July 1. If you are in EBM and have been nominated by your parish, please begin the DOV application process by submitting this application.

Download and print a DOV Application
(Adobe PDF)

Contact Dawn Kline, dkline@archive.episcopalmaryland.org, for additional information.

Support and requirements for those in discernment

The Commission expects that all persons in discernment will receive spiritual support and those nominated for DOV financial support from their home parishes. Please also note that the Canons of the Church require that clergy retire at the age of 72. It is optimal to have at least two years of active service following ordination. The current cost for EBM is $800. The cost for DOV is $1,800, which is due by September 1.

All persons in discernment are required to work with a spiritual director. It is also recommended that all discerners, and especially all nominees in the DOV program, participate in Education for Ministry (EfM). EfM is held at various places around the diocese and is also online. The cost for the local EfM program is $350 a year and for the online program is $450. Contact Meg Kimble, meg.kimble@verizon.net, for locations and additional information.

There is summer reading for both programs and a summer assignment for DOV. Both programs include reading. DOV also includes theological reflection.