I was pretty sure I wanted to be a Diaconal Minister like the Family Minister in my congregation. She helped me organize an evening with other diaconal folks in our presbytery. That gave me the confidence to enter a Discernment process.

Diaconal EducationDiaconal Ministry Brochure

Entry into the Order of Diaconal Ministers begins with a formal Discernment Process under the supervision and direction of the United Church. The process provides someone feeling a call to ministry a supportive community to explore that call. The result of a discernment process is never a failure. Whatever kind of ministry is chosen, whether it be the ministry of the laity, or a stream of professional ministry (Diaconal Ministry, Ordained Ministry, Designated Lay Ministry, Congregational Lay Ministry), it is to be celebrated.

Anyone considering Diaconal Ministry, or considering entering into one of the two schools (see Diaconal Education for more info) with programs leading to Diaconal Ministry are advised to become informed about the Discernment and Candidacy process. Visit the United Church website (see below) or contact your Conference Personnel Minister.


Tif McNaughton (left) and Kelly Warner, when they were students at the Centre for Christian Studies.

The full Discernment/Candidacy process is described on The United Church of Canada website.
Please note, this process is under review, and in some Conferences a project piloting alternative procedures is underway. The United Church website will provide the most up to date information, or contact your Conference Personnel Minister.
For the Handbook detailing the Process Click Here. This is a synopsis of the current, standard process.

  1. A person who has been a member of the United Church of Canada for at least two years and is an active member of a United Church congregation experiences a call to ministry, or a specific call to diaconal ministry.
  2. That person formally requests the congregation to set up a discernment committee for them, using forms provided on the United Church of Canada website at:http://www.unitedchurch-ca/files/forms/dis201.pdf
  3. If the Church Board/Council decides to enter in to discernment with the individual, it appoints two members of the congregation to the Discernment Committee and forwards the request to the Presbytery. The Education and Students (E and S) Committee appoints one or two members of the Presbytery to the Committee.
  4. Once established, the Discernment Committee meets with the inquirer at least six times over the course of twelve months. Part of the work of this committee is to help clarify, for the person and for the committee, the form of ministry most suitable for the inquirer: diaconal, ordained, designated lay ministry, congregation designated lay ministry, or lay leadership in their congregation. When complete, their report is sent to the congregation.
  5. If the congregation agrees with the recommendation that the person should proceed toward candidacy, the documentation is sent to the E and S Committee who arrange for an interview with the Conference Interview Board. If the congregation does not agree, that message is conveyed to the E and S Committee.
  6. Following the interview, the E and S Committee will meet with the inquirer again. If the recommendation was for candidacy, the E and S Committee will proceed to the next step in the process. If the recommendation was otherwise, the E and S Committee may accept this recommendation and inform the inquirer that the process has stopped here. Or – the E and S Committee may ask for another interview with CIB, after which the E and S Committee will meet again with the inquirer.
  7. When the E and S Committee has made a decision to recommend an inquirer, the request then goes to Presbytery. Once approved by Presbytery, the inquirer is officially a candidate for a specified form of ministry, specifically in this case, Diaconal ministry.
  8. The candidate completes the educational requirements for ministry through the Centre for Christian Studies or Sandy Saulteaux Spiritual Centre. Candidates are interviewed annually by the Education and Students Committee. When their studies are complete, candidates are interviewed by the Conference Education and Students Committee. The candidate has a choice of entering the settlement process through the Conference or seeking a call.