Exploring God's Call
Something’s your vocation if it keeps making more of you.
Gail Godwin, Evensong
The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers …
Discernment is a never-ending process that is part of our lifelong Christian faith. As we engage the questions of what gives us life and what does not in this season of our lives, God will beckon us to another path, another way to the heart of the Sabbath at another time. Where we find our grateful moments today may be different in ten or twenty years. The most important thing is that we continue to seek and follow Jesus wherever he leads us with truth and love.
Bread, Law and Spirit (Pentecost 2) The Rev. Danae M. Ashley, MDiv, MA, LMFTA
Discerning Vocation - Lay and Ordained
What gives you life in this season? What are your grateful moments? What is the next step on your Way to follow Jesus?
The first step in discernment is to renew your faith through formation and spiritual practices - for example you can deepen your practice of prayer, practice theological reflection, increase your scripture reading, meet with a spiritual director, create a rule of life or assess your spiritual gifts. Click HERE to go to Christian Formation ideas and resources.
The second step is to consult with your priest – talk with your priest about what questions are emerging as you deepen your faith and seek the presence of God through spiritual practices, exploring your spiritual gifts, and digging deeper into scripture and theological reflection. With the recommendation of your priest, the Episcopal Church of New Hampshire can offer two supportive processes to help you ask important questions of yourself and of God and help you orient yourself towards a path down which God may be leading you:
In the words of Parker Palmer, the founding director of The Center for Courage and Renewal, a Clearness Committee is:
“… a method invented by the Quakers, a method that protects individual identity and integrity while drawing on the wisdom of other people. It is called a "Clearness Committee." From their beginnings over three hundred years ago, Quakers needed a way to draw on both inner and communal resources to deal with personal problems because they had no clerical leaders to ‘solve’ their problems for them. The Clearness Committee is testimony to the fact that there are no external authorities on life’s deepest issues, not clergy or therapists or scholars; there is only the authority that lies within each of us waiting to be heard.”
A Clearness Committee is comprised of the following: a Focus Person/Seeker, who – in the language above – is experiencing a “stirring up” with regard to ministry or vocation; a clerk, who bears the responsibility of instruction, time keeping, and oversight; and several members of the committee who are practiced in the art of asking open and honest questions, questions which serve to help the focus person delve ever more deeply into what we are calling “a stirring”. The work of a Clearness Committee requires training and practice in the methods of keeping to a true discernment process. A Clearness Committee is not an evaluative process – it is a pure gift to the one asking to discern elements of God’s call in their life. The only purpose is to provide a safe place for the deepest possible listening. The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire is fortunate to have, among its members and neighbors, quite a number of certified facilitators and can offer the experience of meeting with a Clearness Committee to those seeking deeper discernment around ministry, vocation, or call. A Clearness Committee is required for those considering an call to ordained vocation, but it is also available to lay people who would like to discern their vocation in the world.
Wayfinders is a program of discernment for lay people that “takes seriously that God is at work inside each of us, no matter where we are on our journey in life.” Wayfinders is led by Darreby Ambler and she has run 36 Wayfinders teams since 2009. Wayfinders is a group goal setting process that includes a retreat to discern a goal that God is calling you to next - goals can be personal or professional, big and audacious or small and impactful. After the retreat, the group continues to meet for 8 meetings to support each other in accomplishing their goals. Darreby is a writer, teacher and journalist. Her husband Michael is Canon to the Ordinary in the Diocese of Maine. They live in Bath, Maine. The Episcopal Church of New Hampshire is exploring how to bring Wayfinders to New Hampshire, and would like to hear from you if you are interested in participating in a Wayfinders retreat and group process. For more information about Wayfinders go to www.wayfinders.me or contact Canon Tina Pickering.
In order to access either of these two processes, please speak with your priest and with Tina Pickering, Canon for Ministry Development.
Entering into a process for Discernment of Vocation
Deepen your formation and spiritual practices
Begin meeting with a spiritual director - Here’s a link to Spiritual Direction resources in New England
Speak with your priest - in most cases, you will need to have been a member of good standing in the congregation for a least one year before beginning discernment for ordination.
Meet together with Canon Tina Pickering
Meet with a Clearness Committee: 3-6 months (see more information below)
Meet with Canon Tina or Bishop Rob to determine Lay Vocation or Ordained Vocation
If Lay Vocation, continue to meet with Canon Tina Pickering or appropriate diocesan staff or clergy to develop a plan for ongoing ministry development.
If Ordained Vocation, continue below:
Write your Spiritual Autobiography and send it, with your resume or CV, to Canon Tina who will share it with the Bishop
Set up a meeting with Canon Tina and the Bishop
With the Bishop's approval, meet with a Regional Discernment Committee: 3-6 months (see more information below)
With the Bishop's approval and a nomination from your congregation, apply to become a Postulant (see additional information below about detailed ordination process)
For questions or more information please contact Canon Tina Pickering, Canon for Ministry Development, firstname.lastname@example.org or (603) 224-1914
The Work of Clearness Committees
The Work of Regional Discernment Committees
Ordination Process for Vocational Deacons
Required: Ember Day Letters
Ordination Process for Priests
Required: Ember Day Letters