All the baptized are called by God to serve, both through ministries and programs at and through their congregations, and shining with the light of Christ wherever they may be, in their churches workplaces, and neighborhoods. Some are called to ordained ministry.
If God may be leading you to explore a possible vocation as a priest or deacon, we encourage you to approach this process through prayerful listening, and by seeking counsel from your priest. Ordained ministry is not the only way to respond faithfully to God's call on your life, nor is it necessarily an easy path. For those faithful people whom God calls to ordained ministry, however, it can be a meaningful and fulfilling way to say “yes” to our Lord Jesus Christ. In the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, we raise up women and men to serve as priests and deacons, and we are seeking spiritually mature Christians with passionate faith, committed to following Jesus in the Episcopal Church.
Ideal applicants have a substantial background of faithful lay ministry and the gifts and experience to build a Christ-centered community with all sorts and conditions of people. They have demonstrated personal integrity and the courage to be honest, and vulnerable about where God is working in their lives. They are open to the ministry of evangelism, including sharing their personal stories of meeting Jesus and having their lives changed. They are humble people of prayer and action, who draw strength from their faith, put Jesus first, and respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. They are motivated by gratitude for God’s grace and genuine love for God and neighbor.
In the Diocese of Oklahoma, we have two different formation tracks for the ordained priesthood. Both are intended to provide priests with appropriate spiritual, academic, and practical formation, so that they may help the whole Body of Christ respond faithfully to his call to fish for people.
These priests leave behind other occupations to devote themselves to full-time, stipendiary ministry, either as Rectors and Vicars or as Assisting Clergy in larger congregations. They are formed in three-year, Episcopal residential seminaries approved by the Bishop. This means relocating outside Oklahoma for the period of formation and may involve considerable expense. Normally, these priests come back to serve an initial curacy (an internship with an experienced priest) in the Diocese of Oklahoma, and they often continue to serve here afterward, but their ministry may also take them to other dioceses.
In addition to their priestly ministry, these priests serve either in secular employment or are otherwise financially self-sufficient. They are formed locally, at our Iona School for Ministry, which meets one weekend per month at St. Crispin’s. They pay modest tuition, the cost of which is ordinarily shared equally by the student, the diocese, and the sponsoring congregation. Bi-vocational priests serve congregations that would not otherwise be able to have a sacramental and pastoral presence. They engage in part-time ministry, receiving the same rate we pay for supply (or substitute) priests for Sundays, plus reimbursement for expenses, and doing another ministry on a non-stipendiary basis. These priests are raised up to meet local needs at the forefront of the Church’s mission in rural places, small towns, and other underserved areas, and they are expected to serve in the Diocese of Oklahoma throughout their ordained ministry.
Deacons represent collaborative leadership ministry to its core. Deacons involve the whole Body of Christ in ministries of service. The liturgical roles of the deacon (assisting with the Sacraments and proclamation of the Gospel, setting the Lord’s Table, and sending his people out into the world) are meant to embody the servant ministry of Jesus and encourage that ministry in others.
Deacons serve to set our hearts on fire for the works of mercy and justice and to make sure we respond to the needs of those who are poor, exploited, or excluded. By the grace of the Holy Spirit, deacons help their brothers and sisters to respond to ALL people without exception, following the teaching and example of Jesus.
In the Diocese of Oklahoma, deacons are formed at our Iona School for Ministry with a similar curriculum to the one we use to form bi-vocational priests. Spiritual, academic, and practical formation occurs in the community. Some of the practical sessions are different since the deacon’s ministry is focused especially on equipping God’s people for ministries of service and advocacy.
The discernment process is at the heart of the journey toward possible ordination. Discernment takes place at two levels; first with your priest, family, and fellow parishioners at the congregation level; second, with other Aspirants together with experienced clergy/lay leaders at the diocesan level. The Aspirancy Program of the Diocese of Oklahoma is a one-year program designed to help you navigate through the process of discerning your call to Holy Orders. To be eligible to enter Aspirancy, the applicant must have been a confirmed communicant in good standing in a congregation of the Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma for at least one year and have the support of his or her Rector or Vicar, as well as the Vestry or Bishop’s Committee.
In conjunction with the Aspirancy program, each applicant will also participate in a Commission on Ministry (COM) facilitated Parish Discernment Committee involving members of the local congregation, who will meet as a group with the applicant, to prayerfully listen and discern their ministry call.
Holy Orders Discernment Manual and Forms
Formal discernment beings with a conversation with your priest and, if they support your ongoing discernment and they are willing to send a Letter of Support to the Bishop.
Along with that letter, the applicant will complete and submit an Aspirancy Application (Form A), The Rector's Recommendation Letter, the Vestry/Bishop's Committee Recommendation (Form B), and the Notice of Intention/Application to form a Parish Discernment Committee (Form 1).
The deadline for submission of all three documents is May 1.
All forms should be sent to Episcopal Diocese of Oklahoma, The Rev. Canon Betsy Randall, Canon to the Ordinary, 924 Robinson Street, Oklahoma City, OK, 73102 or firstname.lastname@example.org.