Diaconal Formation

The School For Diaconal Formation (SDF) aims to equip postulants and candidates for the diaconate with the skills and sensitivities that their vocation demands. The School concentrates on teaching the narrative of God’s relations with human beings. It stresses developing skill in theological thinking and in applying such thinking practically. And it regards with utmost seriousness the process of spiritual formation through worship, community, individual prayer, and direction. It consists of a two-and-a-half-year curriculum of courses, spiritual formation and practical experience and includes a weekly on-line course component. Seminary professors, as well as lay and clergy members of the diocese, comprise the school’s faculty.

With the growing emphasis on the ministry of the diaconate in the Episcopal Church beginning around the mid-1980s, dioceses found they needed to provide their own education and formation programs for people accepted as postulants. Most postulants for the diaconate are already fully involved in a career or are retired. Some have family commitments. In each case, moving from their present location and attending a school at some distance is not an option. Local programs, therefore, provide the necessary preparation for the diaconate. Students attend five long weekends a year that begin Thursday evening after work and continue through early Sunday afternoon. It makes a longer drive for some worth the time and effort.

The courses in the program are designed for women and men who have been accepted as postulants for the diaconate. Deacons are welcome to participate in the courses for a nominal fee as a matter of continuing formation.

What’s the cost of the program?

Tuition is $1,800 per year for on-line and on-site instruction and includes room and board at the Procter Center for five, three-night weekends. Students share a room; single rooms may be available at an additional cost to the student. The Procter Center is able to accommodate restricted diets with advance notice. Tuition does not cover the cost of books. Scholarships are available for deacons currently serving in the diocese of Southern Ohio.

What can you expect?

Five times a year during a four-day weekend (Thursday evening through early Sunday afternoon) students live in community at the Procter Center in London, Ohio. Over the course of two and a half years (a total of 13 weekends) students come from various dioceses to enter a time of conversation, companionship, curiosity, and challenge. They form a community and are formed by it. There are times of great joy and excitement in the classes and discussions which address the five canonical areas of formation required of those preparing for ordination as deacons. Sometimes the time is disturbing; sometime is it challenging; it is always an opportunity for growth.In addition to the time spent at the Procter Center, students engage in on-line learning taught by seminary faculty. Old and New Testament studies and a course in Church History utilize the wonders of internet technology. Weekly opportunities for reading, reflection, and discussion create a unique opportunity for learning as it applies to diaconal ministry.After the first year in the program students engage in field education. This hands-on experience most often takes place in a congregation, but other communities of Christian practice can and do provide appropriate environments for formation in the field.

Scholarship Resources

While the diocese has limited resources related specifically to funding formation programs and projects, please consider other possibilities through your work or educational institution, or some local organization that has a record of assisting people with continuing education. Also, there is always the world-wide web!

Faith in Life (for laypersons only)
Trustees oversee the Second Century Fund and award grants to laity for theological education.

Professional Development (for laypersons and clergy)
Grants are provided for individuals and/or groups to participate in continuing education, workshops and other in-depth study programs.

Book of Remembrance Memorial Scholarship Fund (For lay or ordained women)
The Book of Remembrance, started in 1926 by women of the Diocese, is a listing by parish of deceased women whose congregations want to honor their memory.

Donations are added to a Trust Fund which provides scholarships for women of the diocese to do graduate study in areas related to church work, special ministries, and helping professions. Funds are also available for short-term non-degree training in workshops, special seminars, and skills training, in church related or social service fields.