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. Some are called to offer their particular gifts in the role of deacon or priest. Deacons and priests take vows and receive the laying on of hands from their bishop at ordination, in recognition of the particular Spirit-given gifts that call them to those roles, the formation they have undertaken to develop those gifts, and the authorization of the Church to use them in the name of Christ.
After an outcome of discernment is reached, formation in the Episcopal Church in Minnesota includes coursework and participation in a formation cohort.
Formation means more than acquiring information by taking classes and reading books; it’s about the work of the Holy Spirit integrating the knowledge and skills for ministry with your heart and soul, so that your ministry comes from your deepest self, grounded in relationships with God and others. To that end, the ECMN School for Formation offers a series of courses in preparation for the diaconate and the priesthood. Typically it takes at least two years to complete coursework for the diaconate, and three for the priesthood.
Often people who already have previous graduate work in theology discern for ordained roles, or postulants decide to enroll in local non-Episcopal seminaries. In those cases, an individual might be exempted from some courses in the School for Formation. All those in formation for ordained roles take some of the courses in the School for Formation.
Alongside taking courses, after being admitted to postulancy, those in formation for Holy Orders meet with others in their formation cohort one Friday night a month at the ECMN Retreat Center in Faribault. These cohort gatherings offer the opportunity to engage the soft skills of being a deacon or priest, and to build relationships with others on this journey that can last well beyond ordination – a key practice for healthy clergy.
Cohort gatherings take place at the ECMN Retreat Center at Shattuck, St. Mary’s in Faribault and at the Episcopal House of Prayer in Collegeville. Each gathering includes worship, conversation, reflection, and colloquy discussions.
Gatherings typically begin at 7pm and conclude by 10pm, usually on the first Friday evening of the month, September – May. Overnight stays, including breakfast, are available for cohort members at minimal cost.
In the first year cohort, participants take a deep dive into key aspects of the identity of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota, as well as the history and development of the diaconate.
In the second year cohort, participants reflect theologically on each other’s experiences in internships. Focusing on leadership and conflict styles, participants practice holding space for their own growth, questions, and personal integration of the role of deacon.
The Rev. Eileen Harvala serves at Trinity, Anoka.
The Rev. Maureen Otwell serves at St. Luke’s, Minneapolis.
In the first year cohort, participants build a practice of reading Scripture together, sharing their spiritual journeys, and engaging key elements of the identity of the Episcopal Church in Minnesota.
In the second/third year cohort, participants reflect theologically on each other’s experiences in internships. Focusing on leadership and conflict styles, participants practice holding space for their own growth, questions, and personal integration of the role of priest.
The Very Rev. Justin P. Chapman serves at St. Luke’s, Rochester.
The Rev. Joanie Delamater is a free agent for God.
The Rev. Marcus Halley serves at St. Paul’s, Lake-of-the-Isles, Minneapolis.
The Rev. Anna Doherty serves at Christ Church, Woodbury.