Monday, November 15, 2004

Commission on Ministry

Some of my non-episcopal friends have been asking me on what exactly a Commission on Ministry is. So, let me elaborate on this...

The Bishop of a Diocese (Yes, diocese was orginally the latin name for province, under the old Roman Imperium system) is ultimately the one who ordains a person (either to the deaconate or to the priesthood). To that end, there is a process where a person who seeks ordaination in the ECUSA is first canonically an aspirant to the priesthood. There has to be a meeting with the person in question's rector, who then recommends to the Bishop if this person possibly has a vocation. There is a meeting or two with the Bishop, and after receiving approval from the vestry of the local church, the aspirant files all the paperwork, background checks, etc., the Bishop recommends a person to be interviewed by a VIC (I think that stands for vocational inquiry committee but don't quote me on that. I never can remember that one). The VIC is a subcommittee of the Commission on Ministry, which is a group of people from the diocese, lay and ordained, who either recommend or do not recommend to the Bishop where a person is suitable in their opinion for ordained ministry.
If the VIC approves an aspirant, then the aspirant meets with the full committee for their interview and recommendation. This is about an hour and half meeting where there is questions on the person's background, views on Christian ministry, whatever. After that, the COM recommends to the Bishop that the Aspirant become a Postulant for Holy Orders and begin seminary, etc. In my case, that was sort of out of order due to time constraints. The Bishop takes into consideration but is not bound to follow the opinion of the COM although it is usually rare that the Bishop will go against the COM. It is at this point that the person, now a postulant is officially recognized as in the process for ordaination according to canon law.

After about a year or two, while in seminary, the postulant can then petition the Bishop and the COM for candidacy for ordaination. Upon that interview and other things like the General Ordaination Exam, etc, the Bishop will approve you for candidacy, and you will be a candidate for ordaination. That's the general framework, of course it is different depending on the bishop and the diocese as to names of committees and how it all plays out.

Hope that's helpful folks...


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