Baptism into the Covenant Community of Jesus Christ is the primary prerequisite for any ministry in the Episcopal Church; however, there are certain ministries in the church that require instruction and licensing for lay people to exercise this work or ministry. According to the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church (pgs. 101-103), there are seven areas where lay people should have a license to do specific work and ministries in the church.
Authorized to administer the consecrated elements at a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist
Authorized to take the consecrated elements following a Celebration of the Holy Eucharist to members of the congregation who, by reason of illness or infirmity, were unable to worship with the congregation
Licensing needed for any lay person preaching in services more than twice a year, licensing authorizes them to preach at worship services including Eucharist, daily offices, weddings, and funerals
Responsible for preparing people for membership in the church through baptism, confirmation, reception, and reaffirmation of baptismal vows
Authorized to exercise pastoral or administrative responsibility in a congregation under special circumstances, as defined by the Bishop
The worship leader is authorized to lead public worship (Morning or Evening Prayer and Compline) in the absence of, and/or at the direction of, a bishop or priest
An Evangelist presents the Good News and assists with the community’s ministry of evangelism in partnership with the Presbyter or other leader exercising oversight of the congregation, or as directed by the Bishop
For all of these licenses, a lay person must be a confirmed communicant in good standing or, in extraordinary circumstances, subject to guidelines established by the Bishop.
Training offered through the diocese of California
The Episcopal Church in the Bay Area currently offers training for licensing for Eucharistic Ministers and Eucharistic Visitors. Training for these ministries is based first in the congregation under the direction of the clergy and/or experienced lay leaders with a final licensing workshop arranged with diocesan trainers. Workbooks are available for download, and final licensing trainings will once again be offered in person in 2022. Click here for details.
Training offered online or outside the dioceses
All other areas of licensing require approved training that can be found through these institutions or programs:
Bexley-Seabury Seminary offers online training for several areas of licensing through their Pathways for Baptismal Living program. Please check the Pathways site for upcoming training dates. These classes are usually offered twice a year and run for several weeks. For licensing in the diocese of California, only the specific course is needed regardless of labeled “prerequisites”. If you have questions about listed prerequisites, please check with Amy Cook before registration (firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Leading Communal Worship with M. Milner Seifert
- Evangelist Leadership Training with Jerusalem Greer
- Faith Formation Leaders Training with Sharon Pearson
- Leading Your Community with Steve Matthews
- Claiming Your Voice: Preaching with Susan Ironside
Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) offers several courses that are appropriate for licensing through their CALL Program (Center for Anglican Learning and Leadership). Several of these online courses would be appropriate for licensing such as courses on preaching and pastoral care. The schedule changes from quarter to quarter so watch for an appropriate course and check with Amy Cook (email@example.com) to see if it meets the qualifications for licensing.
Backstory Preaching offers a 1-week preaching bootcamp which is appropriate licensing training to learn how to craft and give a sermon.
To be licensed all ministers must be Communicants in good standing (definition: Title I, Canon I.17.3)
- Confirmed or received in the Episcopal Church
- Endorsed by the rector or vicar of a congregation, or in the absence of a priest assigned, by the Senior Warden.
- Enrolled in the licensing congregation
- Faithful in corporate worship, participation in ministry, praying, and giving in the church
In addition, licensed lay leaders should take the appropriate Whole & Healthy Church training. Please contact Caren Miles (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. Background checks may also be needed.
Licenses are valid only for the diocese in which they are issued and licensed ministries are exercised only with the consent of the member of the clergy in charge of that congregation.
Diocesan licenses are good for 3 years with the possibility of renewal with the bishop’s approval.
To be Licensed
Any lay person seeking licensing must first submit an application. Their Rector or Vicar must also submit an application on their behalf. Please check with Amy Cook (email@example.com) before registering for courses to make sure they meet the qualifications. Finally, upon completing the course, please send in proof that the course was completed, and a license will be issued.
Scholarship money is available for lay training. Our primary model is to ask the applicant to cover 1/3 of the cost, the church to cover 1/3 of the cost, and the scholarship fund will cover the remaining 1/3. If the need is greater, please indicate on the application form.