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.

The SDF consists of a three-year curriculum of courses, spiritual formation and practical experience. 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.

The School’s directors work with each student to formulate a Learning Plan that includes three weekends of formation within the diocese each year, online and intensive classes taken at Seabury-Western Divinity School and the Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP), and special conferences and trainings that can fulfill Association of Episcopal Deacons (AED) learning competencies. 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.

What’s the cost of the program?

Tuition is $1,000 per year with the understanding that at least half, if not all, of this tuition will be paid by a student’s sponsoring parish. Tuition covers the cost of the three in-diocese formation weekends, classes taken at Seabury-Western and CDSP, and special conferences and trainings that are required by each student’s Learning Plan. Tuition does not cover the cost of books.

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.


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Tuition payment

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