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The Diaconate Ordination Process in the Diocese of Pennsylvania (summarized)

2014 -2015 Guidelines

The Rt. Rev. Clifton Daniel, 3rd, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania, in consultation with the Diocesan Office for Transition Ministry, announces the following 2014-2015 schedule and deadlines for processing new nominees for ordination to the Diaconate of the Episcopal Church.

  1. A nominee discerns they may have a calling and speaks with their rector.
  2. The rector and nominee have several conversations about this for a period of time; If the rector is in agreement, he/she has discussion with their Vestry and asks for their support to recommend the nominee to the Bishop.
  3. The rector writes a letter to the Bishop recommending the nominee be considered for the ordination process.  (This letter is usually preceded by a verbal conversation with the Bishop).  This should be completed by October 31st.
  4. If the Bishop decides to move forward, his office contacts the nominee and an interview is scheduled with the Bishop.
  5. Based on the results of the interview, the nominee should make an appointment to meet with the Canon for Transition Ministry who will map out the process and provide the required forms, questionnaires and referral for the psychological assessment. This should be completed by November 30th
  6. Also at this time, the nominee will be sent back to the parish to begin working with the Discernment Committee, the rector and the Parish Advisory Committee on Ministry.  The PACM committee will prepare a report for the Vestry, and send a copy to the diocese.
  7. The rector and the Vestry complete the Vestry Endorsement of Application For Postulancy.
  8. The nominee completes the written application including the spiritual autobiography.  This should be completed by February 1st.
  9. At this point, the Bishop reviews all of the aspirant’s forms and questionnaires, the PACM report and the spiritual autobiography, and designates the aspirant as a “nominee for the Vocational Diaconate”.   
  10.  The Nominee is invited to interview with the Commission on Ministry at the Pre-Postulancy Conference.  This is usually held in the spring, April or May.
  11. At the end of the conference, the Commission on Ministry makes a recommendation to the Bishop, who then makes the nominee a “postulant for the Vocational Diaconate.”
  12. The Postulant enters into the formation community with Deacon Pamela Nesbit and remains in this community until ordination.  This usually takes about three (3) years.  Here, postulants are assisted with decisions regarding coursework, field education and CPE.    
  13.  Postulants interview with the Commission on Ministry at the beginning of their third year.  If the Commission recommends the postulant to become a “candidate for the Vocational Diaconate”,he/she interviews with the Standing Committee who then makes their  recommendation.  Based upon these recommendations, the Bishop makes the postulant a candidate for the Vocational Diaconate
  14. A final diaconal examination must be given at the end of the formation process.  Deacon Pamela Nesbit and an Examination Committee must make a recommendation to the Bishop for the candidate to become an “Ordinand for the Vocational Diaconate”.   
  15. The candidate interviews again with the Commission on Ministry who must make a recommendation to the Bishop for the candidate for ordination.
  16. The Bishop recommends the candidate to the Standing Committee.
  17. The Standing Committee recommends the Candidate to the Bishop for ordination to the Vocational Diaconate.

The importance and necessity of this schedule is due to the amount of administrative time needed for the nominees, Canon Mathis’ office, the Commission on Ministry and Standing Committee to process and complete nominees’ files prior to the Pre-Postulancy Conference.  On average this can take five to six months per nominee.

Rectors or other clergy in charge of congregations are reminded that their questions and/or letters of recommendation should be directed to Bishop Daniel at the Episcopal Diocese of Pennsylvania.

One final reminder: this schedule pertains only to persons and nominees who believe they have a vocational call to the diaconate, not the priesthood.   





  • Canon VI requires that deacons can demonstrate basic competence in five general areas:
    • Academic studies, including The Holy Scriptures, theology, and the tradition of the Church
    • Diakonia and the diaconate.
    • Human awareness and understanding.
    • Spiritual development and discipline
    • Practical training and experience. 
  • In line with the above canons this program is intended to form deacons who are prepared to be leaders of the servant ministry of the church – to speak to the church about the needs, concerns and hopes of the world.  It is expected that deacons-in-training will be people who are comfortable serving in the murky and difficult places of the world and with those who are marginalized. It is understood that deacons-in-training are working people who will not give up their jobs in order to be deacons.  Therefore the academic portion of the training will be held online in the evening.  Once a month for three years deacons-in-training will meet for classes, experiential learning and conversation about what they are learning in all aspects of their formation and about what it means to be a deacon.  During this time they will also be in field placement: first in a community agency or organization, then in CPE and finally in a parish.  They will be grounded in scripture and the tradition of the church, knowledgeable and connected to people in need and formed to be icons of the servant ministry of Jesus Christ


    • Academic Courses
    • Formation Days
    • Field placement


    • First year:
      • Fall – Old Testament
      • Spring – New Testament
    • Second year
      • Fall – Theology
      • Spring – History of the Christian Church
    • Third year
      • History of the Episcopal Church
      • Christian Ethics


  • FORMATION DAYS – Eight monthly formation days per year held on a Saturday from September to May.  The formation schedule begins and ends with an overnight retreat.  The purpose of formation days is to build diaconal identity and community while offering presentation and discussion.  Reading and preparation will be required for formation days


    • Anti-racism training
    • Safe Church trainings


    • Placement in Community Agency or Organization (first year)
      • Students will complete 200 contact hours in social service agency


    • CPE (second year)
      • Students will complete a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education


    • Placement in parish (third year)
      • Students will be placed in a parish for a minimum of nine months


    • Students will be in spiritual direction with a director of their choice during the entire time of their formation.


    • GTS courses to be taken pass/fail 
    • Written Evaluations from supervisors in community service organization, CPE and parish placement. 
    • The Director of the formation program will keep a written file for each deacon-in-training containing transcripts and evaluations from placement supervisors and other material. 
    • The Director of Diaconal Formation will write an assessment of each student’s progress, strengths and growth areas and will send them to the COM prior to candidacy and pre-ordination interviews. 
    • The final evaluation process will include all of the above with additional writings from the diaconal candidates. 


  • Formation Program - $1000 per year (total $3000)
  • GTS   $400 per course – total $2400
  • CPE – cost will vary depending upon program
  • Cost of books and supplies
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