Adapted from a Diocese of Texas report

The Iona School for Ministry based in the Diocese of Texas will soon offer expanded training for lay leaders who wish to become more active in the church’s mission. Three different tracks, from one to three years, provide spiritual formation and prepare candidates to preach, lead worship, or help to establish missional communities.

The Catechism of the Episcopal Church lists lay persons first as “ministers of the Church,” followed by “bishops, priests, and deacons” (Book of Common Prayer, p. 855). Their ministry is “to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.”

The Iona School for Ministry has been open to lay professionals interested in theological studies but now is expanding with lay leader training. This school without walls was established in 2004 to train deacons and bivocational priests with a curriculum of academic, practical, and liturgical instruction.

It meets at Camp Allen for 10 weekends annually for three years. Clergy and staff of the Diocese of Texas, as well as seminary professors, teach classes. Many graduates have gone on to lead small congregations or serve as deacons.

Courses of study for lay leaders include an immersion track (three years) that prepares graduates for ministry in missional communities, or to assist in local parishes through preaching, teaching, and ministry formation.

The three-year track provides a significant theological foundation for persons called to work as lay professionals in the church. Upon approval of a bishop, graduates may be licensed as a lay preacher, worship leader, lay evangelist, and catechist.

The lay preacher track is a three-semester course to assure a strong theological background to preach, and the worship leader track offers the opportunity to gain a deeper spiritual and theological grounding in order to lead worship.

The new tracks begin in September and the deadline for applying is July 15.

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