The goal of the C4SO Ordination Process is to help those whom God has called to better understand and to follow that call. The Ordination Process in C4SO follows the process found in most of the Anglican Communion in addressing: Calling, Character, and Competency.
People entering into our ordination process can typically look forward to five interviews and one major writing assignment with respect to the question of Call:
- Initial Rector Conversation. If you feel led to begin the ordination process, you will schedule a conversation with your rector to express interest and gain understanding of the process.
- Writing of Spiritual Autobiography. Before moving any further in the process, you will be asked to write a Spiritual Autobiography that shows God’s calling of you to ordained ministry in the context of your life journey.
- Rector’s Interview. The Rector of your parish will interview you about your sense of calling to ordained ministry and discuss with you his or her ability to affirm this sense of calling. When the Rector can support your sense of calling, he or she will write a letter of recommendation to the Bishop and submit it through the Chief Administrator.
- Director of Diocesan Formation Interview. The Director of Diocesan Formation will assess your individual situation and adjust the process and timing for your specific call. This may involve iterations to your Spiritual Autobiography, additional interviews, or more specific Character or Competency clarification. Coming out of this conversation, you should have a complete understanding of your process and target timing. This plan is subject to change, as you complete the interviews and assessments. The Director of Diocesan Formation will guide you through any changes, and help you to be prepared for ministry.
- Parish Discernment Committee. Your Rector will assemble a small group of laity from your congregation to interview you with respect to your sense of calling and vision for ministry. At the end of their interview and prayerful discernment, they will write a report for their Vestry to approve.
- Dean’s Interview. Your Dean will read your Spiritual Autobiography and interview you. Where the Dean can affirm that you are called and is confident that both Character or Competency are appropriate for ordination, the Dean will approve you to continue to the final interview.
- Diocesan Commission on Ministry (aka Ordination Preparation Team): This is the last of the “Call” interviews and has a twofold focus. The first is to determine whether a call can be affirmed. Where this is the case, the second focus is to identify areas of character or competency to be addressed as you move forward toward ordination.
All of these interviews provide input to Bishop Todd Hunter who will ultimately make a decision on ordination.
While your character is already being assessed during the interviews, it becomes the focal point in this stage of the ordination process. Bishop Todd is deeply committed to the development of healthy character in preparation for ordained ministry. He has noted that when clergy experience failings, it is almost always a matter of Character rather than Call or Competency.
Some elements of our consideration of Character begin shortly after the issue of Calling has been settled and can continue throughout the ordination process. Your individual program may include elements of the following:
- Spiritual Direction
- Healing Prayer
- Professional Counseling
Three formal elements of our consideration of character typically occur toward the end of the ordination process. Information about each of these three areas will be provided to you at the time they are requested. The three elements are:
- Psychological Evaluation
- Marriage Evaluation (if married)
- Oxford Document Background Check
The consideration of issues of Character and Competency can sometimes occur at the same time or sequentially depending upon a person’s circumstances. Competency refers to both academic achievement and demonstrated ability. Typical academic expectations are a Masters of Divinity for the priesthood. In some circumstances a Master of Arts in Ministry may be substituted for an MDiv. Alternative degrees will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Because ordination is to the wider church, it is important to remember that an MDiv is the standard in the ACNA and required by many ACNA dioceses.
The academic expectation for the diaconate include a 2-year certificate in Diaconal Studies, such as the one offered by Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania. Again, alternative backgrounds and circumstances will be considered.
The formal part of the Ordination Process related to Competency is the Ordination Exams. The exams follow a broad academic preparation and are intended as a “trust and verify” exercise. They also are used to identify areas where further work may be necessary.
Potential church planters may also receive a Church Planter Assessment and Coaching to help them prepare for planting. They may be advised to pursue a chaplaincy, curacy or internship to assist in that preparation.
As a person nears the end of the ordination process, he or she will be invited to a follow-up Commission on Ministry Interview. While the first interview focused on calling and identifying areas of growth, this interview focuses on readiness for ordained ministry and the locus of that ministry. Early in an ordination process, it is quite common to feel called to ordained ministry and have a rather vague sense of what that will initially look like. By the time of this interview, it is expected that there will be clarity around both shape and place. Following this interview, the Commission on Ministry will write a recommendation to Bishop Todd. Upon receiving this document, the Bishop will schedule a personal meeting with you. The process culminates in your ordination ceremony. The ceremony will be managed by your parish, coordinating with the Diocesan offices.
Everything we do in our ordination process falls within the categories of Calling, Character, and Competency. Our process is front-loaded to address the issue of Calling quickly. We then focus on Character and Competency throughout the process. This is a high-level view of our process. We may request additional items based on individual situations.
Are you interested in beginning the process, or learning more about the requirements? Let us know.