The Path to the Diaconate

Deacons empower others to name, claim and engage the work God gives us all to do. They interpret to the Church the needs, concerns and hopes of the world. Through baptism, all Christians are called to make Christ’s redemptive love known through servant ministry. Deacons are ordained to exercise this ministry, particularly to the poor, the weak, the sick and the lonely. Deacons model servant ministry in their daily life and work, and are icons of servant ministry through their roles in worship. At all times, by their life and teaching, deacons are to show Christ’s people that in serving others they are serving Christ himself. 

Formation for the Diaconate

In this diocese, deacons are formed by the St. Phoebe School for Deacons, a partnership between the Diocese of Virginia, the Diocese of Southwestern Virginia, and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP). 

Applying for Postulancy

Before applying for postulancy, seekers in the Diocese of Virginia spend time in community discerning what God is calling them to and how they might best answer that call. On vocational discernment.

Once the seeker's parish discernment committee completes its work, the seeker may begin applying for postulancy with the support of his/her presenting priest. The presenting priest should email Sarah Kye Price and Gloria Parham to request a contact from the Committee on the Diaconate. The contact will assist the seeker in applying for postulancy. The fourth class of the St. Phoebe School begins with a retreat at Roslyn Retreat Center scheduled for early July 2023 (dates TBD).

Postulancy Interview Dates

Aspirants will be scheduled for an interview after the aspirant's contact to the Committee on the Diaconate affirms the aspirant is ready to go forward. 

  • Thurs., February 16, 2023, location TBD
    • Application due January 27, 2023. See below (esp. Postulancy Application Checklist) for details on the application.
  • Thurs. April 27, 2023, location TBD
    • Application due March 30, 2023. See below (esp. Postulancy Application Checklist) for details on the application.

More about the Interview: Click here to see the "Memo to Aspirants Preparing for a Postulancy Interview." An agenda and this document will be emailed to the aspirant two weeks before the interview, but aspirants should read the memo earlier than that. See especially the note about the support team (#4), as the aspirant's supporters may need more than two weeks notice in order to attend. 

About Beginning Formation: Those who interview for postulancy on the dates above will all be on track to begin formation in the St. Phoebe School for Deacons in summer 2022. All students accepted as postulants for the vocational diaconate are automatically accepted to the St. Phoebe School; there isn't a separate application process. The fourth class of the St. Phoebe School begins with a retreat at Roslyn Retreat Center scheduled for early July 2023 (dates TBD).

Postulancy Application Materials


Applying for Candidacy

Postulants apply for candidacy about two-thirds of the way through their formation process. Whereas postulancy interviews are primarily concerned someone's call to and innate gifts for the diaconate, candidacy interviews are primarily concerned with the progress a postulant has made in formation.

Some months prior to an interview, Sarah Kye Price will email the class interviewing for candidacy to convey information about the application, interview dates, due dates for the application.

Candidacy Interview Dates & Sequence

  • Committee on the Diaconate: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with the Committee on Diaconate, receiving information about their application some months before the interview date. 
  • Standing Committee: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with the Standing Committee, typically learning of the date of that interview at the same time they learn of the date for their interview with the Committee on the Diaconate. Standing Committee interviews are almost always via Zoom (though they may at some point return to St. George's, Fredericksburg). 
  • Bishop: Postulants will be scheduled for an interview with their bishop who, with a recommendation and the consent of the Standing Committee, officially accepts postulants as candidates. Interviews are typically scheduled by the Bishop's Assistant for within a month after the Standing Committee interview. 

Committee on the Diaconate Candidacy Interview Dates

All candidacy applications are due Thurs., Nov. 10, 2022 for the St. Phoebe School class of '23, whether they'll interview in Dec. or Jan. 

  • Thurs., Dec. 8, 2022, location TBD (via Zoom or in Fredericksburg).
    • Application/all materials due Nov. 10, 2022.
  • Thurs. Jan. 5, 2023, location TBD (via Zoom or in Fredericksburg).
    • Application/all materials due Nov. 10, 2022.

Candidacy Application Materials

Please send electronic copies to Gloria Parham (gparham@thediocese.net). Postulants should maintain a copy of all documents for their own records. 

  • Candidacy Application Form
  • An updated resume: Like the resume submitted in the postulancy application, your resume should be tailored to this audience and highlight experience relevant to the diaconate (2 page limit). 
  • Vestry Letter of Support for Candidacy
    • Signed by the postulant's presenting parish, the parish that supported their application for postulancy. 
    • Signing a Virtual Vestry Letter: The Vestry doesn’t have to meet in person, or run themselves ragged passing around a paper copy. The vestry should hold a Zoom meeting or conference call. At that meeting, a Vestry member offers a motion to have the vestry support for postulancy (or candidacy or ordination), the vestry votes, then the Senior Warden signs the document and writes on the document the names of all who voted in favor. The Senior Warden can then scan a copy of that form and email it to Gloria Parham (gparham@thediocese.net). Then, at a later point in time when the Vestry are able to meet in person again, all can sign another physical copy for the file. (This method has been vetted and approved by the Chancellor and the Canon to the Ordinary of the Diocese of Virginia.)  
  • St. Phoebe School evaluations: Evaluations provided the by the Local Formation Director of the St. Phoebe School for Deacons. 

Pre-Ordination Approval, Diaconate

Before ordination, all ordinands must complete a specific set of trainings, evaluations, and forms, required by the canons of the Episcopal Church. There are four trainings, three evaluations (which must be current within 36 months of ordination), and two documents that must be submitted.

Two months prior to ordination, the diocesan office sends a memo on your behalf affirming that all requirements have been met. Unlike postulancy and candidacy, pre-ordination approval doesn't require meetings with the Committee on the Diaconate, Standing Committee, or Bishop. That said, the committees or bishop may request a meeting prior to pre-ordination approval, but that tends to happen under rare/unique circumstances and will be directly communicated to you. 

So long as you are already a postulant, we can reimburse reasonable costs incurred completing the trainings and re-evaluations, with the exception of the medical eval. You can submit receipts to Gloria Parham (gparham@thediocese.net).  

Trainings (4 Total):

Timing Trainings: The St. Phoebe School works Canon Law and Anti-Racism Training (via Sacred Ground) in to the summer coursework and learning goals. That is to say, St. Phoebe School students can expect the Anti-Racism and Canon Law requirements to be completed in due course, but will need to make arrangements on their own to complete Misconduct Prevention Training and Alcohol Abuse Prevention Training. Misconduct prevention should be completed before beginning a parish internship, if not before. 

Evaluations, if necessary (3 total):

Timing Evaluations: We're required to have a background check, medical evaluation and psych eval that is current within 36 months at the time of your ordination. So whether you'll need to re-do these depends on when you completed your postulancy application. If you're not sure when you completed these evals, consult your postulancy application. If you're unable to find your postulancy application, email Gloria Parham to ask for the date.

  • Background Check
  • Medical Evaluation (using form included with postulancy application materials above)
  • Psychological Re-evaluation
    • Contact Gloria Parham to request the list of approved clinics, in case the approved clinics have changed since you applied for postulancy. Tell the clinic that this is a follow-up, pre-ordination evaluation for the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.
    • Marital Evals: You do not need to receive a second marital eval if that was part of your postulancy application. You do need a marital evaluation if you’ve been engaged or married since postulancy.
Documents (2 Total):
  • Vestry Letter of Support for Ordination to the Diaconate
    • Timing: Request that this be included on the vestry agenda 4-5 months in advance of your ordination (pre-ordination approval is requested 2 months in advance). 
  • Application for Ordination to Diaconate
    • The date of admission to postulancy and candidacy is on the acceptance letter you received from your bishop.
    • Unlike your candidacy application, this truly is just a form; there are no essays you will need to write.
    • Timing: Submit this form 3-4 months in advance of your ordination.

On Anti-Racism Training

Sacred Ground Anti-Racism Training is the preferred way to complete anti-racism training, especially for white candidates. Typically the St. Phoebe School will participate in Sacred Ground together every other year during the summer semester (different arrangements can be made for BIPOC postulants, which will be tailored for the postulant in conversation with the Local Formation Director). Even if students have taken the training before, there is value in taking the training with St. Phoebe classmates. The Local Formation Director will email the Bishop's Office to confirm participation. 

The hope is that the future clergy of the Diocese of Virginia will be equipped to effectively lead Sacred Ground and/or anti-racist dialogue after ordination. It’s important to hold up minimum standards, but ultimately the hope is to become a Church where the work of anti-racism is so intertwined with theological education, practice and church life that everyone considering entering discernment has far exceeded our current standards.  

References
  • Trainings required by the Episcopal Church: 2018 TEC Canons, Title III, Canon 8, Section 5(h)
  • Alcohol Abuse Awareness: Resolution R-3 passed by the 186th Annual Council of the Diocese of Virginia, January 1981: “Postulants and candidates for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Virginia, prior to ordination, shall receive and demonstrate an adequate understanding of prevention, recognition, intervention and treatment of alcoholism as a spiritual, physical, emotional and social illness.”
  • Evaluations required by the Episcopal Church: 2018 TEC Canons, Title III, Canon 8, Section 5 (k).