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Jun 01, 2016

Diocesan Iona School Expands Lay Training

Extensive training for lay leaders who wish to become more active in the mission of the Church is now available through the Diocese of Texas’ Iona School for Ministry. Three different tracks from one to three years are designed to provide spiritual formation and prepare candidates to preach, lead worship or help to establish missional communities.

In the Catechism of the Episcopal Church, “lay persons” are listed first as “ministers of the Church,” followed by “bishops, priests and deacons” (BCP page 855). Their ministry is “to represent Christ and his Church; to bear witness to him wherever they may be; and, according to the gifts given them, to carry on Christ’s work of reconciliation in the world; and to take their place in the life, worship, and governance of the Church.”

Occasional attendance at worship is the extent of participation for some Church members. Many others are regular attendees and perhaps serve on the Altar Guild or the vestry, or oversee an outreach ministry to neighbors. Still others feel called to do more.

The Iona School for Ministry has been open to lay professionals interested in theological studies but now is expanding with lay leader training. The School “without walls” was established in 2004 to train deacons and bi-vocational priests with a rigorous curriculum of academic, practical and liturgical instruction. It meets at Camp Allen for 10 weekends annually for three years and classes are taught by diocesan clergy and staff as well as seminary professors. Many graduates have gone on to lead small congregations in the diocese or serve as deacons.

Courses of study for lay leaders include an immersion track (three years) that prepares graduates for ministry in missional communities, or to assist in local parishes through preaching, teaching and ministry formation. The three year track provides a significant theological foundation for persons called to work as lay professionals in the church. Upon approval of the bishop, graduates may be licensed as lay preacher, worship leader, lay evangelist and catechist. The lay preacher track is a three semester course to assure a strong theological background to preach and the worship leader track offers the opportunity to gain a deeper spiritual and theological grounding in order to lead worship.

Please cmail Julie Heath, Iona School administrator, or call her at 713.353.2125, for more information and applications for any of the three new lay tracks beginning in September, 2016. Deadline for application is July 15, 2016.