Policies and Procedures for Postulants & Candidates
Welcome to the Ordination Process! You are here because you have felt a stirring and a call from God to serve as an ordained leader in The Episcopal Church. The possibility of a call to serve under orders has been affirmed by your own worshiping community and now by the bishops and the Commission on Ministry. The ordination process is an opportunity to continue exploring how God might be calling you to deepen your faith and to more fully live out your call to be a disciple and an apostle. All of us as baptized Christians are called to follow Jesus and to live out our faith in the world. The call to ordained ministry is a narrowing of that call to serve the Church and the world in a very particular way, under the authority of our bishops. We hope that throughout this process you will continue to be attentive to the ways in which the Holy Spirit is stirring in your heart and in your life. It is a time to continue to be curious about what God is up to in your life, and to explore what a more narrowly focused call looks like.
The ordination process is a challenging and spiritually enriching time. The Bishops, COM and ECCT staff are here to be a source of support on this journey. They also understand their roles and responsibilities in forming the best clergy possible for The Episcopal Church. This means the process will be rigorous and should not be undertaken lightly. It is important to ensure that one has an excellent support system in place before accepting the Bishop’s invitation to apply for postulancy. Additionally, it is important to see the ordination process as an opportunity to “try on” the roles and responsibilities of a clergy person. If reading and praying with the examination and ordination vows from the Book of Common Prayer are not a regular part of your spiritual practice, we strongly encourage you to make them so over the course of your formation. During the ordination process you will be held to the same standards and expectations, particularly regarding personal conduct and respect for authority, of the order which you are seeking to join. Know also that the ordination process, particularly in postulancy, is a time of mutual discernment. It is possible for you, the bishops or the COM to decide at any time that you should withdraw and be affirmed and supported in your baptismal ministry.
We hope the various guidelines below will enable you to live more faithfully and fully into the ordination process.
STATUS CHANGE AT SPONSORING PARISH
Postulants remain in ongoing relationship with their sponsoring parish/ worshiping community until they are certified for ordination; this role should be nurturing and supportive, and should not involve employment of a postulant by the sponsor. In addition, an important part of formation includes space for postulants to begin to try on their calls to ordained ministry and that means stepping away from their previous roles in lay leadership. In order to be named a postulant one must resign from any formal leadership role in one's home parish (warden, vestry, treasurer, committee chair, etc.) in order to more fully invest in one’s formation for holy orders. Particularly given that a vestry endorses postulants and candidates, it is a conflict of interest for a postulant to serve on one. Finally, any major change in a postulant’s relationship with this sponsoring community must be reported to the Dean of Formation and the Bishops immediately.
Your attendance is expected at all events (retreats, interviews, colleague group meetings, Annual Convention, etc.) related to your process as outlined in the formation guidelines for diaconate and priesthood. If you feel that you must miss an event or meeting, it is imperative that you receive permission in advance from the Dean of Formation (who will consult with the bishops and chair of the COM as appropriate). Frequent unexcused absences or habitual requests for excused absences may be cause for dismissal from the process.
Over the course of your process, you will regularly receive communication, primarily by email, from the Dean of Formation and the Administrator for Ordination Processes. It is expected that you will respond to these communications in a timely fashion (generally within three days). If you are expecting information from us regarding the process, please be in touch. You will never be penalized for following up or double checking! Things do occasionally get caught in spam filters or disappear in cyberspace. Whenever sending us any important documentation, please be sure to keep a copy as a backup.
Once invited to become a postulant, you are expected to send Ember Letters to your shepherding bishop four times a year. "The Ember Days, traditionally observed on the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays after the First Sunday in Lent, the Day of Pentecost, Holy Cross Day, and December 13.” At the time of invitation, you will be notified as to who is your shepherding bishop. These letters are an opportunity for you to update your bishop on what is going on in your life spiritually, vocationally and personally. It is also an opportunity for confidential communication with your bishop. Ember letters are not kept in your ordination file, and are not seen by the Dean or the COM unless you choose to share the letter with them. Do be thoughtful about how you communicate with your bishop and remember that the process is an opportunity try on being under orders.
If Bishop Douglas is your shepherding bishop, please send your Ember Letters via email.
If Bishop Ahrens is your shepherding bishop, please send them (typed and printed) via snail mail. Please always retain a copy of the letter. If you do not receive a reply to your letter within a month, please follow up to ensure it was received.
News in ECCT is primarily shared via electronic newsletters. If you have not already done so, please sign up here: https://www.episcopalct.org/ecct-news/electronic-newsletters/
You are also welcome to follow the Episcopal Church in CT on social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. It is also also highly recommended that you follow The Episcopal Church, Episcopal News Service and The Anglican Communion News Service. All of these have daily email digests to which you can subscribe (linked by name above), and they also have a very active presence on social media. As a person in the ordination process it is expected that you will keep abreast of issues and events in our wider common life.
Because we understand you may want to keep your social media personal, those who have authority over you in the process, particularly the bishops and Dean of Formation, will not initiate a social media connection with you. We do welcome you to reach out to us, if you would like, and we will gladly accept any requests.
Bishop Douglas is on Twitter: @ctbishopian
Bishop Ahrens is on Facebook: Laura Ahrens
Please do be mindful of the fact that nothing on social media is truly private, so be thoughtful about what you post, and please do not use it is a method for individual communication with us (email is best).
BOUNDARIES AND SELF CARE
it is required that all in formation have a Spiritual Director with whom you meet regularly (at minimum four times a year). If you do not already have one, please contact the Dean of Formation who can connect you with local resources in this area. Additionally, it is recommended that you also have a therapist, because the ordination process is spiritually and emotionally rigorous and challenge. It is invaluable for personal well-being and growth to have a qualified professional with whom you can do the emotional work required by the process. Again, the Dean of Formation is happy to connect you with resources in this area, if you do not already have one.
It is also recommended that you read and abide by all of the guidelines for clergy in CT prepared by our bishops and Canon for Mission Integrity and Training. Doing so is part of trying on the call to holy orders. The guidelines are as follows:
While you are in the ordination process, it is expected that you attend worship at minimum once a week in an Episcopal congregation. It is also expected that you cultivate your relationship with your sponsoring parish, and that you worship there at least 4 times a year. In addition to the prayer life found through worship, we encourage you to maintain a vibrant personal prayer life (e.g. Daily Office, Bible Study, Prayer Groups, etc.).