The DSOLearning is a place to discern and be formed for the work God calls each of us to through our baptism. In the portal, you will find resources to support you in your ministries in the church and in following Jesus into the world. The videos, articles, and reflections that are part of the various trainings can be used by individuals to deepen your own knowledge or for certification for various ministries in the church. Click the image at the right to get started!
- Racial Justice
- Safe Church
- Church Security
Other learning opportunities
Education for Ministry (EfM) is a unique four-year distance learning certificate program in theological education based upon small-group study and practice. Since its founding in 1975, this international program has assisted more than 100,000 participants in discovering and nurturing their call to Christian service. EfM helps the faithful encounter the breadth and depth of the Christian tradition and bring it into conversation with their experiences of the world as they study, worship, and engage in theological reflection together.
EfM combines the traditional functions of fellowship group and Bible study with a method of theological reflection designed to tap into our creative, metaphorical and mythical ways of thinking, to help us make conscious connections between our faith traditions and the “post-religious” world we find ourselves in today.
A group of six to twelve participants, led by a trained mentor, meet weekly for 36 three-hour meetings in the course of a year. The course is a four-year program but participants commit to one year at a time. The topics covered over the four years include the Old Testament, the New Testament, Church History and Theological and Moral Choices.
- Small Seminar groups of from 6 to 12 students
- Trained mentor(s) and thought-provoking texts
- Theological reflection practiced regularly
- Prayer and worship in a Community of study
The goal is to sign up by July 31 for the fall semester since it takes about a month to get your textbooks. We start after Labor Day at a mutually agreeable time and location. EfM costs $340 per person per year. Congregations interested in starting groups, or individuals interested in more information or locating groups in their area should contact the coordinator or one of the mentors. For more information about EFM or to enroll in a program, please contact diocesan coordinator Hawley Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The School For Diaconal Formation (SDF) aims to equip postulants and candidates for the diaconate with the skills and sensitivities that their vocation demands. The School concentrates on teaching the narrative of God’s relations with human beings. It stresses developing skill in theological thinking and in applying such thinking practically. And it regards with utmost seriousness the process of spiritual formation through worship, community, individual prayer, and direction.
The SDF consists of a three-year curriculum of courses, spiritual formation and practical experience. With the growing emphasis on the ministry of the diaconate in the Episcopal Church beginning around the mid-1980s, dioceses found they needed to provide their own education and formation programs for people accepted as postulants. Most postulants for the diaconate are already fully involved in a career or are retired. Some have family commitments. In each case, moving from their present location and attending a school at some distance is not an option. Local programs, therefore, provide the necessary preparation for the diaconate.
The School’s directors work with each student to formulate a Learning Plan that includes three weekends of formation within the diocese each year, online and intensive classes taken at Seabury-Western Divinity School and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), and special conferences and trainings that can fulfill Association of Episcopal Deacons (AED) learning competencies. After the first year in the program students engage in field education. This hands-on experience most often takes place in a congregation, but other communities of Christian practice can and do provide appropriate environments for formation in the field.
Tuition is $1,000 per year with the understanding that at least half, if not all, of this tuition will be paid by a student’s sponsoring parish. Tuition covers the cost of the three in-diocese formation weekends, classes taken at Seabury-Western and CDSP, and special conferences and trainings that are required by each student’s Learning Plan. Tuition does not cover the cost of books.
While the diocese has limited resources related specifically to funding formation programs and projects, please consider other possibilities through your work or educational institution, or some local organization that has a record of assisting people with continuing education. Also, there is always the world-wide web!
- Faith in Life (for laypersons only)
Trustees oversee the Second Century Fund and award grants to laity for theological education.
- Professional Development (for laypersons and clergy)
Grants are provided for individuals and/or groups to participate in continuing education, workshops and other in-depth study programs.
- Book of Remembrance Memorial Scholarship Fund (For lay or ordained women)
The Book of Remembrance, started in 1926 by women of the Diocese, is a listing by parish of deceased women whose congregations want to honor their memory. Donations are added to a Trust Fund which provides scholarships for women of the diocese to do graduate study in areas related to church work, special ministries, and helping professions. Funds are also available for short-term non-degree training in workshops, special seminars, and skills training, in church related or social service fields.
You can learn more about financial assistance here.
- Faith in Life (for laypersons only)
- Bi-annual Clergy days
- Continuing education/Professional development
Our call to ministry as followers of Jesus begins with baptism. We are all called to take seriously how we live out our baptismal vows. Discerning God’s desire for you is an important task. Discernment may involve discovering a new job path, it may mean finding your call to serving your community, your congregation, and the world, or it might be a time for you to simply find what God is calling you to do next.
Eucharistic Ministers administer the consecrated elements of bread or wine in the liturgy of the Holy Eucharist.
Eucharistic Ministers are trained at the parish level, by the Deacon or Priest of the congregation.
After training, the rector, vicar or priest-in-charge should request that a license be issued by filling out the online application for licensed lay ministries.
Eucharistic Visitors take communion to the sick and shut in immediately following a principle celebration of the Holy Eucharist.
Eucharistic Visitors are trained at the parish level, by the Deacon or Priest of the congregation. After training, the rector, vicar or priest-in-charge should request that a license be issued by filling out the online application for licensed lay ministries.
Safe Church training
Safe Church training is available to anyone in the Diocese of Southern Ohio and required to become a Lay Eucharistic Visitor. Learn more about Safe Church training here .
The online application is to be completed by the clergy person in charge of the congregation or faith community when the requirements have been completed.
Lay Preachers are authorized to preach in worship services upon invitation of the rector, vicar, or priest-in-charge.
The rector or priest-in-charge of a congregation, or a priest of the diocese for congregations without permanent clergy, may nominate persons for licensing as preachers. Those nominated should be active communicant members in good standing, well respected in their congregations, practice an active spiritual life and be knowledgeable and articulate about the Christian faith.
Training in preparation for a license to preach is a two-year program that meets monthly at the Procter Center for three hours on the second Saturday of the month (September through May), with occasional exception. The program includes worship, Bible study, theological reflection and the practice of writing, delivering and evaluating sermons. The leaders are the Rev. Stephen Smith and the Rev. Joanna Leiserson.
The cost of the program is $250 per year; some scholarship assistance is available.
Education for Ministry
Two years of Education for Ministry or the equivalent is a prerequisite.
Anti-racism training is required for all licensed preachers.
Safe Church training
Safe Church training is available to anyone in the Diocese of Southern Ohio and required to become a Lay Preacher. Our Safe Church Education and Training policy can be found here.
Applying for training
- Application form (to be completed by the individual desiring preacher formation)
- Nomination form (to be completed by sponsoring clergy-person)
- Payment form (for churches paying the tuition, or for subsequent years payments).
Renewal of License
If you have preached at least once per year during each of the three years of your license, you may renew your license for three years at no charge.
A Worship Leader is someone who leads Sunday Morning Prayer in the absence of a priest. Requirements for a Lay Worship Leader license include successful completion of Worship Leader training, Safe Church training, and Anti-Racism training, as well as a recommendation from the clergy in charge of the parish or (if the parish has no resident clergy) the senior warden. Application for the license should be made by the resident clergy or senior warden after other requirements have been completed.
Diocesan Worship Leader training consists of two days of training, generally Saturdays, two weeks apart. It takes place at the Procter Center or in any other part of the diocese for which it has been requested, and for which at least eight people are registered. Anyone seeking a new license must attend both days, as should any Worship Leader whose license has lapsed or who has not officiated regularly at Morning Prayer.
Renewal of the license is available for anyone whose license has not lapsed and who has officiated at Morning Prayer at least once each year while licensed. A one-day license renewal training is offered once or twice each year.
The cost for each day of training is $30.
If you would like to request a training in your area, contact the program coordinator, the Rev. Marjorie Menaul at email@example.com.
Anti-racism training is required for all licensed worship leaders.
Safe Church Training
Safe Church training is available to anyone in the Diocese of Southern Ohio and is required for all Lay Worship Leaders. Our Safe Church Education and Training policy can be found here.
Application for license
Following successful completion of the program, and provided the required Safe Church and Anti-racism trainings are current, a Worship Leader license must be requested by the clergy person in charge of the participant’s congregation.
We are first to take seriously the call to live out our baptismal vows before discernment to ordained ministry can effectively begin. That’s what the “now” means in the examination of one to be ordained a deacon or priest: “God now calls you . . .”
If you believe that God may be calling you to ordained ministry, the first step is to pray and to talk to others about how they see God working in your life and your existing ministry. And speak with the priest in charge of your congregation or community of faith.
If, after a significant period of time of conversation with your priest, she or he agrees that further exploration of the ordained ministry is a good next step for you, you would then attend the annual Explorers’ Retreat. It is held on a Saturday in January or February at the Procter Center. In the Diocese of Southern Ohio, the Explorer’s Retreat is the entry point for the formal discernment process for ordained ministry.
Once you have attended the Explorers’ Retreat, you then will want to have further conversation with the clergyperson in your congregation or community of faith. After all you heard that day, is ordained ministry really the call you are sensing or might it be a call to something else?
If you continue to believe you are called to ordained ministry, you have the opportunity to interview with members of the Commission on Ministry (CoM) sometime in April. They will have read your autobiography and other materials submitted on your behalf. They will talk with you about your life, your current ministry, your sense of where God is leading you and why you believe ordination is a part of the ministry to which you are being called.
Some of those who are interviewed by the CoM will be invited to explore further lay ministry. Others will be invited to engage in further discernment with a Regional Discernment Committee formed in consultation with the CoM.
The Regional Discernment Committee (RDC) will further explore your current ministry, your skills, talents, gifts and abilities and your sense of where God is leading you in your life and in your ministry. They will discern with you the traits the CoM and Bishop Breidenthal are looking for in ordained leadership: Theologian, entrepreneur, and faith community organizer.
The discernment of the RDC, the vestry or mission council of your congregation and your priest are all a part of the process. As you go through the process of articulating how you believe God is acting in your life they all will play a part in listening, praying and discerning what they hear God saying. If you, your RDC and your priest all believe that God may be calling you to an ordained ministry, and the vestry or mission council also agrees, you will meet with the CoM again. If the CoM also discerns a call to ordained ministry, they will recommend that the Bishop admit you as a postulant for Holy Orders. You will then be invited to engage in theological study and formation for ordination.
After a portion of your theological study is complete, you will apply for candidacy. The Commission on Ministry and the Standing Committee of the Diocese will consider a variety of recommendations and reports and will interview you. They will then recommend that the Bishop admit you as a candidate for Holy Orders.
After the completion of theological study and certification of competence, according to the canons, is Ordination to the diaconate or the transitional diaconate (for those who will later be ordained priests).
After ordination to the diaconate (or transitional diaconate) is a period of post-theological study and formation known as residency. The period of residency is two years. After a minimum of a year of residency, the transitional deacon can be ordained to the priesthood.
Deacons are the ordained members of the Body of Christ who are given special charge “to serve all people, particularly the poor, the weak, the sick, and the lonely.” They are to be icons of the servant ministry of Christ both within and beyond the Church. Their task in ministry is to lead in equipping the laity for their own ministries, so that the Church may respond to the needs of the world in love and justice.
Each of the three orders of ordained ministry works together to serve God’s Reign as it manifests itself in the world. Bishops oversee, teach, and bear the apostolic traditions of the Church. The Bishop ministers together with the presbyters (priests), who share his function of presiding, teaching, blessing and bearing the traditions of the institutional Church. Bishops and priests work in a collegium with each other, since the order of priest is an historical offshoot from that of bishop.
Deacons, by contrast are not designated as the tradition-bearers nor as the primary teachers of the Church, though some may have gifts to do so. Their ministry is, rather, prophetic. They are continually to present to the Church the concerns and agonies of the world, while also presenting to the world the wisdom and the faith of the Church. Theirs is a special community of servant leadership.
The discernment, training, and deployment of persons with diaconal vocation, therefore, need to be distinguished from that of priests. To discern a diaconal vocation is to find a person with a heart for the
dispossessed and the poor, a strong need to deliver the Church’s grace-filled ministry to those outside, and a strong impulse to keep the Church alive to the realities of secular people. Thus, deacon candidates need to learn:
- how to tell the Church’s classic story
- how to interpret life’s dilemmas in relation with the classic story
- how to perform the practical tasks of ministry
The Church needs persons who are authorized to keep it honest by keeping it in touch. Deacons are those persons. They should be the most non-clerical of clerics, never seeking honorifics or preferment, but rather seeking the face of Christ in other human beings, especially in the faces of people on the margins.
The School for Diaconal Formation seeks to evoke and equip such a “deacon-heart.” Throughout diaconal formation the question is constantly asked: “In your relationship of responsibility to the Church as a deacon, how should you respond? What needs to be said or done or prayed about with the heart and voice and action of a deacon?”
The School for Diaconal Formation is a program of formation in the Diocese of Southern Ohio for persons who are postulants or candidates for the diaconate in their diocese. You can learn more about it under Learning Opportunities above.