St. John’s Church has been fertile ground for raising up people for Holy Orders. Joe Hopwood, Linda Maloney, Rob Cavanna, Patricia Gillespie, Bruce Henne, Shannon Preston, Randy Welsand and Priscilla Gray have all begun their journey to ordination here.
Today, SJEC members Patricia Benson, Nancy Dyson and Tom Roy are on their own ordination journeys; Pat and Nancy to the deaconate and Tom to priesthood. Each of them began by asking the vestry to meet with them in an “Assembly.” The Assembly meets once with each individual using the Discernment Wheel, a tool that highlight and discuss one’s gifts, strengths and calling. The Assembly decides whether that person will continue the process by spending a year in formal Discernment.
Those who continue select a “companion” and a sponsoring priest, neither of whom need be from our church. The discerners and their companions become part of a Discernment Group formed by the ECMN, consisting of a priest, deacon and lay person who are not from the discerners’ own church. They meet monthly for one year.
The Discernment Group leaders then determine who may return to their own faith community’s vestry and ask for continued support to advance to the next step in formation. Some discerners leave the process at this time. Those who continue become Postulants and enter formation training.
In ECMN, deacon and priest postulants can attend the School for Formation here in Minnesota. Some, who can attend and afford school full time, may attend a seminary instead. The School for Formation route generally takes deacon postulants an additional two years, and priest postulants an additional three years, including coursework, mentoring, testing, interviewing and residency to complete formation and become ordained.
While it is the Bishop’s purview to assign clergy to churches where they are most needed, I hope that our faith community will be able to welcome Pat, Nancy and Tom back as ordained clergy right here after they complete their formation journey.
Deacon George has invested more than a few sermons, eNews articles, conversations and adult formation sessions explaining this process to us over the past three years and he is a knowledgeable resource for anyone with questions about the process. Your current vestry can also provide additional information. And Canon Karen Olson, the Missioner for Ministry at ECMN, is always available to answer questions.
Please mark your calendars for Sunday, September 3 at our 10 a.m. service, when we will send Patricia Benson, Nancy Dyson and Tom Roy, with our prayers and support, to continue on their respective journeys.