What is the School for Formation?

A ministry of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota

All of us have talents and skills given by God. In Baptism we hear the call to discern what passions and talents give us most life, and to offer those gifts where they will bring the most good to the world. The Episcopal tradition calls every baptized person into ministry, responding to God’s love by living out Christ’s ministry of reconciliation. Our Prayer Book describes four orders of ministry — lay people, deacons, priests, and bishops. We believe those four orders of ministry work together to help all the followers of the way of Jesus join in God’s mission in their own contexts. If you’re seeking clarity about where you fit in those four orders, check out information about discernment here.

If you have discerned a call to serve, or if you have a longing to deepen your understanding of God and of our tradition, then you can find in the School for Formation the preparation and the learning you need. All are welcome! The School for Formation grew out of a need for formation for those called to lay and ordained leadership in our faith communities. There are innumerable ways lay leaders can offer their gifts and skills for God’s mission.

Find out more: Formation for Lay Leaders

In the School for Formation, those called to Holy Orders find learning and best practices alongside a deeper kind of formation: grounding in wisdom that lets us offer our gifts with the most impact, and relationships that mirror God’s love back to us and help us to grow.

  Find out more: Formation for Ordination

Learning Online

Most SFF courses take place online over seven weeks, with material structured weekly. Our courses are housed at https://schoolforformation.expertlearning.net/, a Moodle site. Most of our online content is asynchronous, meaning you can access it and take part at any point in the week, whether that content is readings, video lectures, written discussion forums, and assignments. Most of our courses also include 3-4 videoconferences, usually using Zoom.us technology. A membership with Zoom is not required.

Find out more about online learning with us here.

Key Commitments of the School for Formation:

  • Leaders as ministry developers: We empower leaders, lay and ordained, to bring forth the skills and passion of others, facilitating deepening faith in the Good News of Jesus Christ and going with God’s people into the world to join in God’s work.
  • Knowledge for the sake of mission: Participants will be asked how they might teach, preach, or design learning experiences to share their new knowledge with others, rather than writing papers.
  • Learning in context: All course content will be encountered in the light of opportunities and challenges facing the participant’s own faith community.
  • Learning online and face-to-face: Because we are spread throughout Minnesota, most of our courses take place online: participants connect via the internet to submit assignments, take part in discussions, and engage with one other. But formation doesn’t happen without face-to-face connection. Each course meets for an in-person gathering with the instructor at least once.

Learning Objectives of the School for Formation

Developed in partnership with the Church Divinity School of the Pacific

At the conclusion of the initial course of study, students will be equipped to continue in their own discipleship, to make new disciples, and to equip those disciples to live in service to the Gospel, engaging God’s mission in the world around them.

Specifically, students will be able to:

  • Tell, reflect upon, and use the stories of Scripture, Christian practices, and Anglican tradition to inspire, heal, and form disciples for God’s mission.
  • Assist individuals and faith communities in listening to their cultural contexts, discerning their particular gifts, and bringing these together in a sustainable way to meet the needs of the world.
  • Gather and equip faith communities to join God’s work in their neighborhoods and in the world.
  • Design and implement a long-range plan for their own development as faithful Christian disciples and leaders.