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Academy for Vocational Leadership


The Academy for Vocational Leadership is a three-year program of preparation leading to the diaconate or the priesthood. The expectation is that by the end of the first year, a student will have begun the ordination process with the Commission on Ministry and will have become a nominee. In order to begin this program, an applicant must receive the endorsement of the clergy and vestry of the applicant’s home parish.

This is a joint program with the Dioceses of Michigan and Western Michigan and is based on the Iona Initiative, a collaborative project for local formation developed by the Seminary of the Southwest in conjunction with the Iona School for Ministry of the Diocese of Texas. The curriculum includes academic modules on Holy Scriptures, church history, and theology as well as a variety of class sessions on spirituality, liturgy and music, and the theory and practice of ministry. Teachers from the collaborating dioceses facilitate classroom discussion on video lectures provided by professors from the Seminary of the Southwest.  Participants will have reading and writing assignments to complete each month. The next class will begin in the fall of 2016.

Each year the program begins with a weekend retreat in August.

Class weekends are held once a month from September through June at the Colombiere Retreat and Conference Center in Clarkston, MI.   As a participant, you will be sleeping in your own room and have use of a shared bathroom facility.  Meals will be provided in the conference center’s dining room.  Please contact the retreat leaders if you have dietary concerns.

The cost of the program is $3,600/year which covers tuition and overnight accommodations for two nights and six meals for each of the 10 sessions, as well as the August retreat. In addition, the cost of required textbooks will range from $100-175 per year.  The Diocese will provide a scholarship of $1,000 for each student. Students are urged to approach their home parish for additional financial support. Additional scholarship funds may also be available from the diocese to meet financial need.

Application Instructions

The application includes three parts: 1) an application form; 2) an endorsement form to be signed by the rector or other clergy and members of the vestry; and 3) a financial resources form including a scholarship application. Please complete the financial resources form even if you are not requesting any additional funds from the Diocese and put $0 in the amount requested line. The Academy application will be complete only when all of these forms have been received at the diocesan office.

Please send all of the forms to:

The Rev. Dr. Valerie Fargo
Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan
924 N. Niagara Street
Saginaw, MI  48602


For any questions or for additional information, please contact the Rev. Dr. Valerie Fargo, Director of the Coppage-Gordon School for Ministry at the diocese (989-752-6020) or at home  (989-839-9462).

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