Diocesan Process of Discernment


Once you’ve spoken with your vicar or chaplain about your stirrings of vocation, please contact us at [email protected].

We’ll get back to you first of all with details of the forthcoming Vocations Courses. These are six sessions, usually fortnightly, of 90 minutes, covering a broad curriculum. It is designed to help you explore your vocation, ensure some background knowledge of the Church that calls, and help you discern and articulate what particular ministry it is that you might be called to.

These currently run in the autumn term in Cambridge, in the spring term in Ely, and in the summer term in Wisbech, although we are also trialling remote possibilities.

Authorized Lay Ministry (ALM)

If the Vocations Course has helped you see you want to pursue an Authorized Lay Ministry (ALM) calling then we will ensure you’re in touch with Phil Marsh [email protected] who oversees ALMs, and will make sure you know what you need to do next to apply.

Seeking a Vocations Adviser (VA)

During or after the Vocations Course you will have the chance to ask for a Vocations Adviser (VA), which is a necessary next step if you want to look at Licensed Lay Ministry (LLM) or Ordination.

We try to match up people with Vocations Advisers taking into account where you are in terms of church tradition as well as geography! VAs will spend anything between 2 and 8 sessions with candidates: they will suggest reading and possibly ask for a written assignment or two.

Licensed Lay Ministry (LLM) possibilities

If you are looking at LLM possibilities, the VA will make sure you’re familiar with the LLM selection criteria (available here).

The VA will also help you think around the various specialisms on offer: currently LLM Reader, Pioneer, Youth, or Children and Families.

Alongside these conversations with the VA, if you are a potential:

  • Pioneer - you will also start working with our Development Officer for Pioneer Ministry [email protected]; if you are a potential;
  • Youth LLM - you will start working with our Development Officer for Young People, [email protected]; if you are a potential;
  • Children and Families LLM, you will start working with our Development Officer for Children & Families, [email protected].

If want to go to a LLM Discernment Panel (organised internally in the Diocese every spring), the VA will make sure you are well-prepared for that occasion, which usually involves a group of candidates making and responding to presentations, and two or three short interviews. If you are then selected, you will usually spend two years, beginning from the following September, in LLM Training (more information here), before licensing two years after that.

An ordained pathway

If you are heading towards an ordained pathway, after helping you develop clear articulation of why you feel that you are called by both God and the Church to that ministry, the VA (Vocations Adviser) will refer you to a DDO (Diocesan Director of Ordination). We have a growing team of DDOs who help candidates at that next stage of their journey.

You may be called to full-time or part-time ministry; stipendiary or self-supporting ministry; incumbent status or as an assistant; distinctive deacon or priest after a single deacon’s year. There is a wide variety of ordained ministries and you can gain more of a flavour of these in the "Your Church Role" section of the website by clicking here.

With the DDO you’ll engage closely with the Selection Criteria for:

Candidates normally work with a DDO for 12-18 months before attending a national discernment event. At this stage you will definitely get lots of reading and thinking to be doing, and quite a lot of writing, both written reflections and more forms! If you are then selected, you will usually spend two or three years either in part-time or full-time theological training from the following September – the course you take will largely depend on your age and any prior theological training.

A Monastic Life

If you think you might be called to a monastic life, either as a monk or nun or someone else living under vows in the community – note that these are not either/or with respect to Ordained or Licensed ministry, but we wouldn’t recommend you try discerning two callings at the same time, so do think about which is most important to you – then you might want to ask to speak with the DDOV, [email protected] specifically about this.

Similarly, if you think you might be called to missionary work, contact the DDOV [email protected] directly and explain this is what you are passionate about.

And if all this helps you to own afresh your lay ministry in the church office, in your streets, in your workplace, or wherever you find yourself, that too is a blessing. It is about becoming who God is truly calling us to become at any stage in our lives.


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Page last updated: 16th April 2020 8:43 AM
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Ely Diocesan Board of Finance is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales with company number 142183, and a charity registered in England and Wales with Charity Number 245456. The registered address is: Diocesan Office, Bishop Woodford House, Barton Road, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4DX. All rights reserved.