GENERAL CONVENTION 2003


MINISTRY and ORDERS

THE FOLLOWING ACTIONS WERE APPROVED BY THE CONVENTION:

The canons (church law) on ministry (Title III) have been thoroughly rewritten. The ministry of all the baptized has been affirmed more clearly, and the ordination process has been simplified and clarified, with attention to cultural and ethnic differences in the discernment process.

A distinction is no longer made between seminary-trained and locally-trained priests (Canon 7 and Canon 9); a broad range of educational processes is permitted.

Discernment and formation in community is held up as the norm for all ordained ministries.

The transitional diaconate is retained, but governed under a different canon than the vocational diaconate.

Strongly encouraged study of another contemporary language, and experience in cross-cultural ministry program.

Charged Standing Commission with how to address need for multilingual and cross-cultural competency by lay and ordained leaders.

Commitment to study role of deacons in all dioceses

Continuing education process mandated for licensed and ordained ministries

Study of seminarian expenses to be done.

Participate in the Fund for Theological Education's Pastoral Leadership Search Effort to recruit candidates under age 35 for ordained ministry

Encourage use of Fresh Start materials, culturally adapted, as a resource for congregations and clergy in transition

Commend work of Families of Clergy United in support in education for awareness of clergy family needs


Thoughtful pre-convention comments on
proposed changes to Canon 6 on Ordination

Affirming the diaconate as a calling worthy in itself

One of the intriguing new provisions of the proposed Title 3, is Canon
6, Section 4: "A person previously ordained a Priest or a Bishop, and not
previously ordained a Deacon, may be nominated to be a Postulant for the
diaconate and shall fulfill the requirements of this Canon."

COMMENTARY: Kudos to the Standing Committee on Ministry Development!!!! This turns
the hierarchical progression: deacon, priest, bishop - somewhat topsy-turvy,
in a good way. Someone called to the priesthood or episcopate, may also aspire
to the ministry of the deacon, but only by faithfully pursuing this calling,
not as a by-product, way station on the road to "Higher Office".
This section affirms the diaconate as a calling worthy in itself, as
having unique and special qualities, and not just step one to another calling.

John A. Baldwin, Southern Virginia, C4

OBSERVATION FROM THE BISHOPS COMMITTEE ON MINISTRY July 30:There was surprisingly little dissent from the resolution's recommendation that this be implemented. We'll see what happens on the floor -- few people expect it to pass. - Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori

Credentialing of Lay Ministers
There is a need for the church to provide endorsement/credentialing of
professionals in some settings that reach beyond the church.. For example:
health care chaplains who work for health care institutions need
credentialing to be able to work in those settings.

I would like to enlarge the discussion of credentialing of lay ministers.
There is a need for the church to provide endorsement/credentialing of professionals in some settings that reach beyond the church.. For example: health care chaplains who work for health care institutions need credentialing to be able to work in those settings.

My understanding is that the Episcopal Church has no structure to do this for people who are not ordained. The National Association of Catholic Chaplains provides a structure in the American Catholic Church to certify lay and ordained people for professional health care chaplaincy. The process toward certification includes the equavilent of a masters in ministry, clinical pastoral education, bishop's endorsement, interviews. Each 5 years the chaplain must complete a wide range of continuing education and participate in a peer interview in order to maintain certification.

Might Title III expand the vision and move toward support/endorsement/credentialing of profesional lay ministers who work outside the "church" setting?

Is the episcopal church serious about lay ministry or are we still in the
talking stage?

Sheila Seekins, lay alternate, Maine

OUR BISHOP RESPONDS:
There is a crying need to do this. Nevada currently has a seminarian who does not qualify for intern programs with the federal prison system, and will not until he is ordained. We have many gifted pastors who are not (and never intend to be) ordained, who are restricted or barred from similar service. If we are serious about baptismal ministry, we should do all in our power to make it possible.

Shalom, Katharine Jefferts Schori Nevada

Should Church School Teachers be licensed?
How come, if we are licensing people to do so many aspects
of our worship life together, the nurture and teaching of our children do
not require licensing...not that I would want that to happen, believe me...

We need to think very carefully about how we train and support those who work with
our children. Too many volunteers are given a book and told to show up on
Sunday. This leads to burn-out and poor quality programs. Our children
need quality religious formation if they are to grow in faith and continue
in relationship with God.

Margaret Schaefer, Nebraska L-4

.Training of Lay Eucharistic Ministers
I am responsible for organizing the training program for Lay Eucharistic Ministers..
in the Diocese of Massachusetts

We have been offering a six hour training program (currently
available from LeaderResources) since 1994 to approximately 125
individuals each year (a total of 1,152 certified in nine years).
This program, which is co-led by a two person team consisting of one
ordained person and one experienced LEM, is offered five or six times
each year in various parts of the Diocese, usually in groups of 20 to
25. The entire program day is set in the context of the Eucharist and
the commitments in our Baptismal Covenant.

The training includes an emphasis on both the sacramental and the
pastoral aspects of this important Lay ministry and provides an
opportunity not only to practice a home visit but also responds to
areas of concern about the ministry that arise out of the group
discussions.

I believe that this approach has several advantages over local
instruction by individual Rectors.

1. Group instruction provides a uniformity of preparation that
assures the diocese that the ministry is being implemented in a
manner consistent with the nation and diocesan canons.

2. Group instruction allows for systematic treatment of individual
concerns that arise out of the group discussions.

3. Group instruction allows the diocese to say not only is this
ministry important to the life of your parish community it is
important to the wider church.

4. In the real world not every congregation has full time clergy
available to train and supervise LEMs. In my experience it is
precisely in situations where full time clergy are not available that
the gifts of individual lay people are most often lifted up to serve
those who cannot attend Sunday services.

5. I believe strongly that we truly honor lay ministry when we say
"this is important enough that we will provide the training required
to do the work properly".

Honoring the ministries of the laity is more that just discerning
their gifts and calling them to serve. It often requires training
(and always requires support) in the use of those gifts if they are
to be used fully in Christ's name.


Dick Vanderlippe <RVAN@aol.com

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