The Discernment Process

All Christians are called to ministry by virtue of their baptisms. One of the ministries of the whole church is to assist members of the Body of Christ to discern their particular ministry in the midst of the Church and the world. The discernment process in the Diocese of Tennessee has been developed with this in mind: a means of aiding our fellow Christians in the process of discerning the specifics of God’s call on their lives. Sometimes this work results in the affirmation of an existing ministry, perhaps with renewed commitment and vigor. Other times, people come to an awareness of a different sort of ministry than they have been engaged in before. Sometimes this call might be discerned as a call to ordained ministry in the Church.

The discernment process is an intentional way of discerning, and invites the active participation of other members of the community. It involves a high degree of commitment on the part of the person inquiring, and on the part of the other Christians engaging in the process with them.

If you have questions about the discernment process, you can explore the materials below, and have a conversation with your priest to learn more.

The Handbook of Discernment for Ministry

This Handbook of Discernment for Ministry has been prepared by the Bishop and Commission on Ministry of the Diocese of Tennessee. It is designed to help explore the call to ministry. It will also help those who evaluate and give through the process, which may lead to ordination.

Much of the material in this Handbook concerns ordained ministry, but it is a document with a much wider purpose, intended to be of help to all those who seek to do discernment within the Church. It represents a further step toward claiming the ministry of all the baptized People of God.

The Diocese of Tennessee seeks to live into this vision of ministry. This Handbook attempts to express the teaching of Scripture, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Canons of the Diocese of Tennessee and the Episcopal Church.

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Holy Orders Forms

The following forms are referenced by the Holy Orders forms in the Handbook of Discernment for ministry. Click the link below to download the PDF of the forms you need.

  • Holy Orders Form 1: General Information {PDF} {Online form}
  • Holy Orders Form 2: Waiver of Information {PDF} {This form must be signed by a witness, and so cannot be completed online}
  • Holy Orders Form 3: Personal Financial Statement {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 4: Letter of Support for Postulancy {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 5: Medical Examination {PDF}
    • Required Medical Exam Form {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 6: Life History {PDF}
    • Life History Questionnaire {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 7: Behavior Screening {PDF}
    • Behavior Screening Questionnaire {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 8: Required Mental Health Evaluation {PDF}
    • Required Mental Health Evaluation {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 9: Application for Candidacy {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 10: Letter of Support for Candidacy {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 11: Application for Ordination to the Diaconate {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 12: Letter of Support for Ordination to the Diaconate {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 13: Application for Ordination to the Priesthood {PDF}
  • Holy Orders Form 14: Letter of Support for Ordination to the Priesthood {PDF}