The Priesthood in the Diocese of New Jersey: Step-by-Step Overview of Ordination Process
Discernment Process Toward Postulancy
1. The Rector/Vicar calls Diocesan House for process and application forms. (Contact Ms. Pat Hawkins Diocesan Benefits Administrator (609) 394-5281, Ext 22 firstname.lastname@example.org)
A discernment shepherd will be assigned to assist the Rector/Vicar, the nominee, and the Parish Committee on Ministry throughout the discernment process.
2. Meeting(s) with Rector/Vicar (See Discernment Guidelines for Home Parish Priests)
At the end of this discernment process the Rector/Vicar arranges for a Spiritual Director acceptable to the nominee. The nominee should meet regularly with the Spiritual Director throughout the discernment and formation process.
3. Meetings with Parish Committee on Ministry (See Discernment Guidelines for Parish Committees on Ministry).
Prior to meeting with the nominee, the Discernment Shepherd meets with the Parish Committee on Ministry to give an overview of the PCOM discernment process.
4. Completion of written application Due at Diocesan House by January 15th. (Contact Ms. Pat Hawkins Diocesan Benefits Administrator (609) 394-5281, Ext 22 email@example.com)
- Form 1. Submitted in accordance with the Constitutions and Canons of the Episcopal Church
- Form 2a. Background Information Report (filled out by nominee)
- 2b: Rector’s Report
- 2c: Parish Committee on Ministry Report
- 2d: Vestry Recommendation Form
- Form 3. Letters of reference from two laypersons
- Form 4. Consists of two parts, an autobiographical statement and written answers to specific questions (filled out by nominee)
- Form 5. The Application Fee The application fee is $1200, half of which is to be paid by the nominee, and half to be paid by the nominee’s congregation. This fee helps defray administration and testing required by this process. Should this be a financial hardship to either the nominee or the nominee’s congregation, please contact a co-chair of the Committee on Priesthood.
- Transcripts and proof of degree earned
- Picture of yourself
5. Interview with Co-Chairs of the Committee on the Priesthood
- Once the application forms are completed and sent with the application fee to Diocesan House, the co-chairs of the Committee on the Priesthood, the Reverend Canon Jack Belmont and Canon Constance White, will contact the nominee to schedule an interview.
6. Psychological and medical exams
- The nominee will receive the psychological examination forms, Medical Examination Form #6, Oxford background check information.
- After filling out the psychological forms, send them to the counseling service recommended by the diocese and set up an appointment for evaluation. (The costs for these tests are included in the application fee.)
The nominee must arrange for and obtain a medical examination by a physician of his or her choice. The report is to be recorded by the physician on Form #6 and returned to Bishop Stokes at Diocesan House.
- This medical examination is paid for by the nominee and must have been conducted within the year.
- Both the psychological and medical examinations must be completed at least one month prior to the nominee’s discernment interview (September). These reports go directly to Bishop Stokes’s office.
7. Interview with the Bishop
The nominee will be contacted by Bishop Stokes’s office to set up an interview with him.
8. Nominee Discernment Interview with the Committee on Priesthood (held in September) Nominees will be accompanied by their rectors and/or a member of their PCOM
9. Placement in a parish for continuing ministry discernment
- Arrangements are made with the Committee on Priesthood for ministry discernment in a church other than the nominee’s own for 6 to 9 months, to be determined by Bishop Stokes and the Committee on Priesthood.
- Two evaluation reports on the nominee’s ministry are due at the conclusion of the discernment period. One report is to be written by the nominee and the other by the supervising priest and then mailed to mailed to Canon Constance White at Diocesan House to add to the file for review by co-chairs of the Committee on the Priesthood. (See ‘Ministry Discernment Guidelines for Supervising Rectors’.)
10. Postulancy Interviews
- The nominee is interviewed by members of the Committee on Priesthood.
- At the conclusion of these interviews, the Committee forwards their recommendations to the Bishop and the Bishop makes his final decision regarding postulancy. Notification regarding the Bishop’s decision will come from him in writing.
Postulancy to Candidacy
1. Ember Day Letters (see the Book of Common Prayer, p. 18)
At the time the nominee is enrolled as a postulant he or she is required to write to the Bishop in each of the four Ember Day seasons, reflecting on his or her academic experience and spiritual development. These Ember Days letters to the Bishop are to be written until the individual is ordained a priest. The letter should be no more than one page long.
2. Financial Aid
Each postulant should contact Ms. Pat Hawkins Diocesan Benefits Administrator (609) 394-5281, Ext 22 firstname.lastname@example.org, to apply for diocesan financial aid if needed.
3. Application to Seminary
With the guidance of Bishop Stokes and the Committee on Priesthood, the postulant applies to an Episcopal seminary for three years of priestly formation. The postulant is interviewed for candidacy by the Committee on Priesthood toward the end of his or her ‘middler’ (second) year in seminary and must have been a postulant for at least six months.
4. Completion of Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE)
One unit (400 hours) of CPE is required by the diocese before ordination. The CPE supervisor should be asked to send a copy of the final evaluation immediately upon completion of the course to Canon Constance White at Diocesan House to add to the file for review by the co-chairs of the Committee on the Priesthood, the Reverend Canon Jack Belmont and Canon White.
5. Sexual Abuse Awareness Training
Refer to the Diocese of New Jersey website for information on when and where trainings will be held and register to attend accordingly.
6. Autobiographical Summary
Before the candidacy interview the postulant writes a brief autobiographical sketch reflective of his/her spiritual, educational, and professional experience during postulancy.
7. Seminary Reports
In the middle of the ‘middler’ (second) year, a recommendation for candidacy is sent from the seminary to the Bishop.
8. Rector/Vicar/Vestry Recommendation
The postulant is expected to keep in contact with the Home Parish Committee on Ministry, the Rector/Vicar and the vestry during his/her time in seminary, meeting with them at least annually. The postulant should send the required Recommendation for Candidacy form to the Rector/Vicar, wardens and vestry to be returned to Canon Constance White at Diocesan House to add to the file for review by the co-chairs of the Committee on the Priesthood, the Reverend Canon Jack Belmont and Canon White.
9. Committee on Priesthood Interview
The Committee on Priesthood interviews prospective candidates after all materials, including the seminary evaluation and recommendation, have been received. The Committee on Priesthood will make its recommendation to the Bishop concerning candidacy. The Bishop will then determine whether or not to present the postulant’s name to the Standing Committee.
10. Meeting with Standing Committee
Notification regarding the decision of Bishop Stokes and the Standing Committee regarding candidacy will come from the Bishop in writing.
11. Oxford Document Check and Credit Check
Contact Ms. Ann Notte, Office Manager at Diocesan House, at 877 394-5281, extension 41, after Candidacy interview.
Candidacy to Diaconate
1. Candidates who do not attend an Episcopal Seminary are required to do an Anglican Studies year at an Episcopal Seminary.
- An Anglican Studies year consists of two semesters (7 required courses) at an Episcopal Seminary acceptable to the Bishop, taking 3-4 courses/semester for grade (no audits).
- The 7 required courses are in the areas of: Anglican History, Anglican Theology, Theology and History of Liturgy, Ascetical Theology, Anglican Polity, Anglican Music, Ethics.
2. Candidates for the Transitional Diaconate are asked to read carefully Title III, Canon 8, sec. 6 and to provide the Bishop and Standing Committee with the appropriate documents before March 1 of the last year of seminary.
- An application from the Candidate requesting ordination as a Deacon under this canon, including the Candidate’s dates of admission to Postulancy and Candidacy.
- A letter of support from the Candidate’s congregation or other community of faith, signed and dated by at least two-thirds of the Vestry and the Member of the Clergy or other leader exercising oversight.
- A certificate from the seminary or other program of preparation, showing the Candidate’s scholastic record in the subjects required by the canons, and giving an evaluation with recommendation as to the Candidate’s other personal qualifications for ordination together with a recommendation regarding ordination to the Diaconate under this Canon.
3. The Bishop and the Standing Committee will interview candidates for Transitional Diaconate after the Bishop has received the Committee on Priesthood’s recommendation from the Co-Chairs.
- The decision to ordain is made by Bishop Stokes with the consent of the Standing Committee.
- Candidates are interviewed by the Bishop and Standing Committee concerning ordination to the diaconate.
4. Transitional deacons are ordained by the Bishop in June at Trinity Cathedral, Trenton.
Diaconate to Priesthood: see Title III, Canon 8, Sec. 7
1. Before recommending ordination to the priesthood the following documents are required:
- An application from the Deacon requesting ordination as a Priest, including the Deacon’s dates of admission to Postulancy and Candidacy and ordination as a Deacon under this canon.
- A letter of support from the Deacon’s congregation or other community of faith, signed by at least two-thirds of the Vesty and the Member of Clergy or other leader exercising oversight.
- Evidence of admission to Postulancy and Candidacy, including dates of admission, and ordination to the Diaconate.
- A certificate from the seminary or other program of preparation, showing the Deacon’s scholastic record in the subjects required by the canons, and giving an evaluation with recommendation as to the Deacon’s other personal qualifications for ordination together with a recommendation regarding ordination to the Priesthood.
2. The Bishop and the Standing Committee will interview Transitional Deacons whose terms of service, training, and academic requirements have been completed. The decision to ordain is made by the Bishop with the consent of the Standing Committee.
3. Ordination to priesthood The decision to ordain is made by the Bishop and Standing Committee.