Some Christians feel called to assistant roles in congregations and communities. Among these are church workers, pastoral carers, musicians. The local Vestry can appoint people to those tasks. Some feel called to be pastoral assistants, eucharistic assistants, leaders of intercessions and worship leaders. These require local Vestry and Diocesan Bishop approval. Others feel a call to licensed, professed or ordained ministries, such as lay readers, monks, nuns, vocational deacons and priests in a full-time/part-time, stipendiary/non-stipendiary capacity.
If you feel called to one of these latter ministries you will be required to offer yourself to the Church for discernment over a long period of time. This process will enable both you and the Church to determine if this is what God has called you to offer.
Your first port of call is your local priest-in-charge or rector. They will know you from your church attendance and from your involvement in the corporate life of the church and community. Your priest will talk through how you are feeling and help you to discern how God might be calling you. They will share their impressions with the Vestry of your local congregation to see if others have reached the same conclusion. If there is general consensus your priest-in-charge or rector will contact the Provincial Director of Ordinands (PDO), the person charged with oversight of all vocations in the Scottish Episcopal Church, to initiate the official discernment process.
Next, a Vocations Advisor will be assigned to you. The role of the Vocations Advisor will be to meet with you to work out if you are a potential candidate for a licensed, professed or ordained ministry or whether your calling is to continue within your existing congregation as a lay person.
If the Vocations Advisor thinks you might be a potential candidate for a licensed, professed or ordained ministry they will refer you to the Bishop, who will decide whether they agree with the Vocations Advisor.
If the Bishop agrees, you will be referred to the Provincial Director of Ordinands, who will put you in touch with an Assistant Director of Ordinands (ADO). The ADO will take you through a Discernment Curriculum and write a report on your behalf recommending one of three routes: i) that you should proceed to a discernment meeting, ii) that you need more time to prepare for a discernment meeting or iii) that you should not go any further in the process.
If it is recommended that you should proceed to a discernment meeting, the Bishop will accept you as a candidate and instruct the Provincial Director of Ordinands to gather testimonials and reports from people who have known you in a work, academic, personal, church and discernment basis.
In due course, you will attend a discernment meeting which is a prolonged residential selection conference with interviews and practical exercises. These are currently happening online due to the Coronavirus restrictions.
- Different types of ministry in the Scottish Episcopal Church
- More information about the Discernment Process
- Scottish Episcopal Institute