To be empowered to preach and preside with any genuine authority, I need to get a graduate degree in theology or ministry that will qualify me for ordination in a church that won’t reject me on the basis of sex. The last academic class in theology I took was Calvin’s Institutes almost a quarter century ago, so I need to start with a fresh slate.
I’ve learned my lesson about jumping into a new church or a new career too quickly, without surveying my options and the pros and cons of each first. So my concrete goal is to find out by the end of 2020 the answers to these questions:
- What churches ordain women, and what “faith affirmations” do each require that I might not be able to agree to in good conscience?
- What are the ordination options? Part time or full time? What is typical compensation, if any?
- What kind of degree or program leads most efficiently toward ordination? How long will it take? Can I get started while working my current job?
- Can I get the church to pay for some or all of my required studies toward ordination? On what conditions?
- To the extent I have to pay myself, how much will it cost? How can I plan and budget for that?
- Is there a suitable seminary that is local to where I live now? What is the culture like at that seminary?
- If there aren’t any suitable local options, where would I need to go to attend a seminary that will provide me with the kind of support network I’ve never had before and really need to thrive in my vocation?
I’ve been trying to schedule a meeting with the rector of the Episcopal church I’m currently attending to start learning some of this from her perspective. Maybe I have a meeting with her on Thursday but she hasn’t confirmed that yet. But that’s just a starting place, and I need to start researching a lot more beyond that to be confident in making an informed decision.