Discernment Process

Aiding Fellow Christians

All Christians are called to ministry by virtue of their baptisms. One of the ministries of the 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 specific of God’s call on their lives.

This process is an intentional way of discerning that 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 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.

Commission on Ministry

The Commission on Ministry oversees the entire discernment process, making recommendations to the Bishop at various stages. No one can proceed from one stage to the next without the Bishop’s consent.

  • Scott Kammerer (2023), St. Philip’s Church, Nashville
  • Shelley Sircy (2023), Church of St. Joseph of Arimathea, Hendersonville
  • The Rev’d Margery Kennelly (2023), St. George’s Church, Nashville
  • Ed Arning, Chair, (2024), St. Paul’s Church, Murfreesboro
  • The Rev’d Jacob Bottom (2024), Church of Our Saviour, Gallatin
  • Gayle Happell (2024), Church of the Good Shepherd, Brentwood
  • The Ven. Roger Saterstrom (2024), Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville
  • Mendy Richards (2025), St. Michael’s Church, Cookeville
  • The Rev’d Cynthia Seifert (2025), Church of the Epiphany, Lebanon
  • Scott Johnson (2025), Church of the Resurrection, Franklin

The Handbook of Discernment for Ministry

Our handbook 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 and it will 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.

Download the Handbook

Holy Order Forms

These forms are referenced by the Holy Orders forms in the Handbook of Discernment of Ministry.

View a timeline of the discernment process

Vocational Diaconate Program

Deacons are living symbols of Christ’s presence as they embody Christ’s servant ministry and point to the presence of Christ in those they serve. The Vocational Diaconate Program is meant for anyone who feel calls to be a deacon.


The process is intended to be completed in 2 years minimum. Before ordination, each candidate shall be prepared in and demonstrate basic competence in 5 general areas:

  • Academic Studies (Holy Scripture, theology, tradition of the Church)
  • Diakonia and the Diaconate
  • Human Awareness and Understanding
  • Spiritual Development and Discipline
  • Practical Training and Experience

Vocational Diaconate Customary

Vocational Diaconate Committee

The Rev’d Deacon Betty Carpenter (2023), The Parish of St. Mark & St. Paul and All Saints Chapel, Sewanee
The Rev’d Bill Dennler (2023), Church of the Holy Trinity, Nashville
The Rev’d Deacon Suzie Johnston (2023), Church of the Resurrection, Franklin
The Rev’d Jacob Bottom (2024), Church of Our Saviour, Gallatin
The Rev’d Canon Jody Howard, Bishop’s Liaison, (2024), Diocese of Tennessee, Nashville
The Ven. Roger Saterstrom, Chair, (2024), Christ Church Cathedral, Nashville
Mendy Richards (2024), St. Michael’s Church, Cookeville