Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings in our risen Lord. No area of our common life is more important than the preparation of future clergy. It is also an area I am familiar with from the seminary.
I am writing to tell you about how I am thinking about various matters under this heading. I want you to hear my thoughts directly lest there be misunderstanding.
I am strongly committed to Christian education for all, and especially for lay leaders. For this reason there will, I hope, be a higher profile for the Stanton Center, not lower! We will broaden its subject matter and gradually make parts of it accessible by Internet.
I would like to develop our range of lay callings: evangelist, catechist, lay reader, etc. These too need discernment and preparation. I believe that these can be of special value to rural churches.
I have been impressed with the devotion and commitment of our deacons. But those who come to me wishing to see if they are called to it have a varied sense of what it is!
I think we do best if we set this discernment squarely in the context of a variety of possible callings. I also believe that input from teachers, rectors, and the Bishop should accompany the discernment of the individual. We are not ending the diaconate! We are reframing it to enhance its discernment.
We have been working hard on our process for presbyterial formation. I do believe in residential seminary as you can imagine! But there will be a couple of more local options as well.
Finally, I want to stress that anyone along in any ordination process will continue without any change at all. Furthermore the normal functioning sacramentally week to week for deacons will also continue unchanged.