Commission On Ministry
“Your vocation in life is where your greatest joy meets the world’s greatest need.” Frederick Buechner
We are all called to ministry by virtue of our Baptism. God gives us each gifts and a community of believers to help us discern those gifts. God’s gifts often take time to unfold as we develop and hone the skills needed to make the best use of them. They may not always bring us happiness, which is fleeting, but when we use them fully, we feel a joy within our soul. We know that we are living into what God calls us to be and to do. When we apply those gifts to “the world’s greatest need,” as Dr. Buechner says, we are living into our vocation.
The Commission On Ministry, affectionately known as COM, is an important part of the community of discernment. It is established by Title III of the Constitution and Canons of The Episcopal Church, which addresses the ministry of all baptized persons. It requires that each Diocese create a Commission on Ministry consisting of priests, deacons, and laypersons to provide advice and assistance to the Bishop In:
- the implementation of Title III of the Canons,
- the determination of present and future opportunities and needs for the ministry of all baptized persons,
- and in the design and oversight of the ongoing process for recruitment, discernment, formation for ministry, and assessment of readiness therefor. (Title III, Section 2).
In the Diocese of Central Pennsylvania, the Bishop serves, by virtue of her office, as Commission President. The Archdeacon for Deacons also serves by virtue of her office. Six laypersons and six clergy members round out the roster, serving in staggered 3-year terms. The Standing Committee, which is responsible for certifying the readiness of candidates for ordination, assigns a liaison to the COM. The liaison has voice, but no vote on matters that come before the Commission.
COM meets monthly and conducts a winter retreat for Postulants and Candidates. Other formation and discernment opportunities, in collaboration with the Stevenson School for Ministry and others, are in development. The Vice President of the Commission meets with the Bishop on a regular basis to plan agendas and schedule interviews with people in discernment. Members of the Commission serve as Companions in Discernment for nominees, postulants, and candidates as they make their way through the ordination process.