Archbishop Anne Germond, metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Ontario, has announced a conference centred around ordained vocational discernment to be held June 21–23, 2022.
The “Pathways to Partnership” conference will gather together a variety of leaders from across the province who participate in the processes of discernment, formation, and education for ministerial candidates, including bishops, heads of colleges or their designates, and members of judicatories responsible for candidates’ processes.
Participants will be focused primarily on rethinking how theological schools recruit students, rethinking development of curricula to address the changing needs of the people of the province and the world, and rethinking how theological colleges and dioceses handle recruitment, formation, and deployment.
“It is imperative that our province takes the time and expends the energy to do the work that will encourage and excite those whom God is calling to ordained ministry in these new times,” Archbishop Germond emphasized. This will involve discussions about the current ways ordination candidates are prepared and supported both in spiritual formation, educational tracks, and life-long learning.
The co-chairs of the hard-working organizing committee are Bishop Susan Bell and Bishop John Chapman. The conference will be facilitated by Archbishop Colin Johnson and Susan Graham-Walker.
Three years in the making, this opportunity for extended dialogue about the future of ordination training was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Bishop Susan Bell expressed positivity about the delay due to the shifts in the church over the past two years: “The landscape of ministry has changed significantly due to the pandemic.”
This is a momentous opportunity to come “nose to nose with reality” and for the church and the academy to come to terms with their respective realities, to forge partnerships, and go forward together to better support the needs of parishes across the province. Bishop Todd Townshend of Huron diocese will be composing a background paper in order to orient participants to the history of vocational discernment and formation in the ecclesiastical province.
“One of the complexities of this conversation is trying to discern what the church of tomorrow will need in terms of spiritual formation,” observed Bishop Bell. “We’re aware of that and yet it’s important to try.”
Archdeacon Bill Mous and Canon Christyn Perkons will represent the Diocese of Niagara at the conference.