How can you prepare for what you don’t yet know?


From the US National Archives: Mrs. Lois Carson looks through a telescope in the Sierra Mountain Range after a forest fire, 1973.

Clarity and consistency have been at the top of the goals for ECMN’s School for Formation over the past two years. Consistency can work wonders in the midst of anxiety. Clarity is a gift to anyone who’s ever felt lost, confused, under-equipped, or powerless. In the midst of so much change in our system as a whole, and especially in the process for Holy Orders, the School for Formation has tried hard to chart a clear path forward. Not to mention the fact that I, as a ‘J’ on the Meyers-Briggs, find clarity and consistency to be my happy place. I like to have a plan and stick to it.

In the past two years we’ve created eighteen hybrid courses, built up partnerships with CDSP and Bexley+Seabury, and clarified the learning we expect new deacons and priests to master before ordination, and more. Clarity and consistency have been not just an expression of our vision, but a much-needed balm for many in the ordination process in Minnesota.

Can you tell that there is a ‘but’ coming?

Here it is: We are forming leaders for a changing world and a changing church. How can we possibly know, now, all of the things they will need to know down the road to do faithful ministry? How can we set a clear and consistent curriculum and, at the same time, be open to what the Holy Spirit is trying to teach us? How can you prepare for what you don’t yet know?

We need a balance of those things – clarity, consistency, and an understanding of where the church has been, balanced with a desire to listen to the Holy Spirit, a willingness to try (and fail), and a deep curiosity about how church leaders might be called to function.

In our work this year, we’ve been envisioning what additional courses and workshops the School for Formation might offer. For our lay leaders, the recent Vestry Resource Day offered an incredible lesson in meeting people where they are. One-day events that offer much-needed skills and encouragement for lay leaders are at the top of our list to develop for next year. And, for those in formation for Holy Orders, the third year of coursework is coming together. We will roll that out in a few months with much excitement. Hopefully those courses will include an introduction to pastoral care, a course in family systems and addiction, as well as a course that will address how faith leaders can take part in dismantling racism. Additionally, we will also roll out a seminar that lets existing preachers work in a supportive environment to continue to improve their sermoncraft. All these things have been named to us as needs for leaders in ECMN over the past two years, and we’re excited to bring them to you.

We live in the tension between the desire for stability and the unavoidable tide of change. How the Episcopal Church in Minnesota trains its leaders, lay and ordained, will need to continue to turn back to discernment. Where is the Holy Spirit calling us next, and what do we need to learn to go there?



The Rev. Susan Daughtry
Missioner for Formation
Episcopal Church in Minnesota