Approximately 40% of the churches in the Diocese of Dallas are located in rural communities, or in cities and towns in the rural landscape.
Episcopal worship requires sacramental presence for the ministry of the church to be fulfilled. Rural Churches have remained an important presence in the rural landscape through the work and ministries of dedicated lay people. But rural churches have often struggled to afford a priest that could be a presence in the community and be available to pastor the members in all the sacraments. They had become a sacramental church that could not always provide the sacraments. The Titus Project addresses the need for ordained clergy in the rural churches.
History and Purpose of Titus
In 2006 Bishop James M. Stanton formed the Rural Church Ministry Commission (RCMC), appointing a group of people to address the problems of getting sacramental ministry into the rural churches. The Commission identified the goal of finding a way to provide “indigenous” clergy leadership for the rural churches. In 2007 they introduced their proposal, named “The Titus Project” by Bishop Stanton.
The Titus Project develops new methods for recruitment, discernment, formation, and oversight of clergy for the rural churches. The goal is to place primarily part-time resident clergy, transitioning to full-time resident clergy (not supply). Stipends for rural clergy will remain at the discretion and ability of the individual rural church, in agreement with the priest.
Qualifications for Titus
The Titus Project is an expedited educational process for the ordination of qualified persons with a mature skill set who are called to rural church ministry. Applicants must feel passionately called to ministry and desire an opportunity to build up the Kingdom of God in rural churches. Most likely their faith has matured through active lay ministry in their own Episcopal church and they are at a point in their lives when they are ready to take the next step in their personal ministry. Candidates must be able to adjust their career of livelihood. Most importantly, applicants will enter the process as a call to ministry, not as a means to financial livelihood.
Eligible candidates must be 50 years of age or older; members of the Episcopal Church for a minimum of five years; college graduates (or have equivalent education); indigenous to the rural community and understand rural church dynamics; longtime active lay leaders in the church; and, committed to the rural community. The process, from discernment through formation and ordination, will occur within a three-year period. If the formation process is not complete within two years, the candidate must petition the Bishop to continue.
Discerning a Call for Titus
As with every ordination process, the discernment of a Call comes after prayer, study, conversation and counsel. The Application, which can be found on the Diocesan web (www.edod.org) contains introductory information and a general timeline as well as the forms for application. Because of the nature of an expedited process the Titus task force of the Commission on Ministry (TCOM) will work closely with the applicant in the oversight of the ordination process.
Education and Formation for Titus
A complete list of educational requirements and curriculae is presented in the Application for the Titus Project. Study must be completed by the applicant within a prescribed time line. It is possible that many Titus candidates may have completed some of the required courses prior to application to the program. The Stanton Center for Ministry presents the course work through its program, but applicants may also choose to take advantage of a variety of approved on-line courses or attend other institutions. All coursework is approved by the Bishop.
Is there someone sitting in your pews who may be called to Titus?
Perhaps it is you. Or someone who has always been a lay reader or chalice bearer at your church? Someone who prays conscientiously for others and calls on those in need? Or teaches Bible study and is a Lay Eucharistic Visitor.
We want to know them.
Please let us know -- send us an e-mail and pass this brochure along to someone you believe might feel called to ordained ministry in the rural church.