Each Community is made up of 3-5 discerners, 3-5 companions, and 2 facilitators. In addition to these roles, our new diocesan Discernment Communities also require participation by sending communities, by vestries in charge of sending communities, and by clergy in charge of sending communities.
Our Discernment Communities are designed to facilitate deep discernment in our Church for the discerners who apply to be part of the Communities, and in the context of the wider, ongoing discernment to which our Church is responsible. Because of this, discerners make the most significant investment of time and heart into this discerning work. The Commitments outline the primary responsibilities of discerners. Discerners may also be invited to meet separately with the Commission on Ministry and/or the Bishop.
Each discerner will invite 1 companion from their sending community to accompany them through the time of discernment.
- Companions will accompany discerners through most aspects of discernment.
- Companions will be involved in all community commitments except for the discerners’ meetings with their priest, therapist, and spiritual director.
- Companions will support discerners in their regular communication with their sending communities, represented by the vestry.
Our diocesan staff is recruiting and will train a team of facilitators who will guide the Discernment Communities and liaise with the Commission on Ministry and the Missioner for Lifelong Formation. Facilitators will be supported by diocesan staff during the time of discernment.
Sending communities have a deep role in discernment in our Church, and will be invited to support discerners through regular prayer and by financially supporting their discernment. During this early time of discernment, the appropriate representatives of sending communities are their vestry and priest in charge.
- The vestry (by two-thirds vote) and priest must endorse the discerner’s application to the Discernment Communities.
- Recognizing that many of our communities are experiencing financial instability, we will provide subsidizing scholarships, and we also expect communities to provide financial support as possible, and in conversation with their discerner.
- Travel to the retreats, spiritual direction and therapy are the most likely to need financial support during the discernment.
- Vestries are invited to remember discerners in regular prayer and encouragement, and are required to meet three times with and receive reports from discerners.
- At the end of this time of discernment, vestries have the responsibility of affirming the results of the discernment that they have supported.
Like vestries, priests in charge of sending communities have canonical responsibilities in discernment.
- Priests have the initial responsibility of meeting with potential discerners this fall for initial discernment, and to recommend to the Commission on Ministry discerners who apply.
- Priests will be involved and informed throughout the time of discernment. Discerners are responsible for setting up regular meetings with their priest, and priests have a responsibility to ensure that those meetings occur.
- At the end of this time of discernment, priests have the responsibility of affirming the results of the discernment that they have supported.