The Office of Congregational Vitality is pleased to announce the School for Lay Ministry!
The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church charge each diocese to “make provision for the affirmation and development of the ministry of all baptized persons, including: (a) Assistance in understanding that all baptized persons are called to minister in Christ’s name, to identify their gifts with the help of the Church and to serve Christ’s mission at all times and in all places. (b) Assistance in understanding that all baptized persons are called to sustain their ministries through commitment to life-long Christian formation.” To that end, the School for Ministry for the Formation of All the Baptized was born.
The new FAB (Formation for All the Baptized) School for Ministry will support the formation and licensure process for those lay ministries. To be licensed as one of these types of lay ministers requires participation in a discernment process, endorsement of clergy and vestry, formation classes, meeting with the Commission on Ministry, and a commissioning service. Licensure means that the person can serve not only in their sponsoring parish, but also potentially in other parishes in the Diocese who would benefit from those ministries. Read more in the Constitution and Canons. Read more about the competencies and formation requirements for these licensed ministries here.
Support from the Community of Faith
Licensed lay ministers are identified by and supported by their communities of faith, and need the endorsement of the member of the clergy exercising oversight, along with the support of the Vestry. This includes a commitment on the part of the clergy sponsors to be in intentional conversation once a week during the 5 week discernment process, using a conversation guide created for that purpose.
Those identified by and recommended by their communities of faith who are interested in being licensed for a particular lay ministry will first participate in a 5 week discernment cohort on Zoom to identify their gifts for ministry, listen for God’s activity in their lives, and discern their next steps in their vocational calling. Included in this discernment is 5 weeks of conversation with their clergy sponsors using a conversation guide created for that purpose. The last session of the cohort will include a meeting with the Commission on Ministry to share their story of discernment. The Commission on Ministry helps discern avenues for the expression and support of the ministry of all the baptized, lay and ordained. This cohort will start after Easter on April 27th.
The path for formation will depend on the licensure track the lay minister is pursuing. The Diocese of Atlanta has partnered with Bexley-Seabury Seminary to provide formation for most ministry tracks through their Pathways program for licensure. The Diocese has also partnered with the Community of Hope International to provide pastoral care training. These classes will generally take place in the Fall of 2022. Read more about the formation requirements for each licensed lay ministry here.
Recommendation of the Commission on Ministry
Discerners will meet again with the Commission on Ministry to share what they learned in their formation. At the recommendation of the Commission, the Bishop may decide to license these lay ministers for ministry throughout the Diocese.
Those who have completed the process will be commissioned by the Bishop in a Diocesan service in the late fall/winter of 2022, and begin their licensed lay ministries in the Diocese.