The 2020-2021 school year has brought many changes and additions to our School for Ministry program offerings. After successfully graduating eight students after three years of study, we expanded our program to include lay ministry certification in three areas: Worship Leader, Lay Preacher, and Pastoral Care. The lay certification program is a ten month program. We also began a three year program with two candidates seeking ordained ministry, one diaconal candidate and one who is still in discernment.
Due to the expansion of offerings, we moved our base from St. Agatha’s in DeFuniak Springs to St. Cyprian’s Church in Pensacola. We have 23 lay students who will be graduated for canonical certification in their designated ministries on June 12, 2021. We hope to offer this graduation ceremony via live stream since our space will be limited.
The motivation for our expansion comes from our own diocesan vision and the reality of the many gifts of the baptized for leadership and care. As some congregations go through transition periods that can last longer than they once did, we hope that our lay ministers will be able to lead during such times and provide much needed inspiration and care or that they can meld with existing ministries in their churches to assist clergy and other leaders.
This year our lay students have received instruction in Scripture, the Book of Common Prayer, Anglican Identity, Sacraments, Pastoral Care, Voice/Proclamation, Hermeneutics, Homiletics, and a Preaching Consortium. Our three-year candidates seeking ordained ministry have focused on Christian History, Spirituality, and respective Clinical Pastoral Education needs.
We are encouraged to find that many of our lay students will come back and study for a different certification next year as their longing for study and preparation has grown. We look forward to their return along with some other possibilities we are considering: cohort groups for more specialized learning topics; offering a certification track for Lay Evangelist; using the knowledge gained from our participation in the Episcopal Preaching Foundation homiletics program to further expand our own lay preaching offerings.
We are excited for our first 23 graduates for lay ministry certification and encourage anyone who might be interested in joining us next year to speak to your rector or priest-in-charge. We can then help you with the discernment work needed to get a start in the Fall. If you have any questions, please contact the School dean, Joy Blaylock—firstname.lastname@example.org.