The Coppage-Gordon School for Ministry

Coppage-Gordon is the adult formation arm of the diocese, working to form leaders of all orders and all corners of the diocese, including those training for ordained ministry. 

The Academy for Vocational Leadership

The Academy for Vocational Leadership is a local three-year program of preparation leading to the diaconate or the priesthood.

The Academy is a collaboration with the Episcopal Diocese of Western Michigan and is based on the Iona Collaborative, a local formation curriculum 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 2022. The program begins with a weekend retreat in August.

In order to begin this program, an applicant must receive the endorsement of the clergy and vestry of the applicant’s home parish. In addition, the applicant must have begun the ordination process with the Commission on Ministry and reached Nominee status prior to beginning the Academy.

When in-person instruction is possible, class weekends are held once a month from September through June at the Colombiere Retreat and Conference Center in Clarkston, MI.

The cost of the program is $4,000/year which covers tuition, overnight accommodations, and 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 of Eastern Michigan will provide a scholarship of $1,000 for each student from this diocese. Financial support from the student’s home parish is an expectation. Students are urged to approach their home parish for any needed financial support.

Dates for 2021-2022
August 13-15 (Annual Retreat)
September 10-12
October 1-3
November 5-7
December 3-5
January 14-16
February 11-13
March 11-13
April 22-24
May 13-15
June 3-5 

The application includes three parts:

  1. Application form
  2. Endorsement form to be signed by the rector or other clergy and members of the vestry
  3. 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


Licensed Ministry Training

According to the Canons of the Episcopal Church, a Worship Leader is a lay person who regularly leads public worship. In the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan worship leaders are often charged with more than leading Morning or Evening Prayer. They often plan services as well. Therefore, some exposure to church history, the church year and symbols, church polity, scripture, and music is included in the workshop.

Cost is minimal, covering materials and lunches. Specific dates, time, and sites will be announced 4-6 weeks prior to the offering of the workshop.

At the conclusion of the workshop each participant will be given a copy of the worship leader examination to be completed and sent in. Each person to be licensed is also required by diocesan policy to take the Safeguarding God’s People training offered through the Diocese and undergo a criminal background check.

Occasionally, more advanced and specific worship leader trainings will be offered.

The basic introduction to leading worship in your congregation. This class is for new worship leaders. Following the class, participants will need to take an exam in order to complete their licensure. There are no current upcoming trainings.
This class will take a look at the other resources approved by the Episcopal Church for use within congregations, including Enriching Our Worship (EOW). This class is for those already licensed as worship leaders. $25/person. There are no current upcoming trainings.

Training to become a licensed preacher in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan consists of two components:

  1. Classes in Holy Scripture through the Academy for Vocational Leadership or comparable program
  2. Homiletics Class at the Academy for Vocational Leadership

Those who wish to become licensed preachers begin their preparation with the monthly Saturday classes in Holy Scripture offered at the Academy for Vocational Leadership. This survey of the Old and New Testaments consists of ten five-hour sessions, September through June, at the Colombiere Retreat Center in Clarkston. The cost is $600 ($60 per session), which includes lunch. Additional costs include textbooks and mileage to and from Colombiere.

Either following completion of this class or concurrently, individuals take the Homiletics Class offered at the Academy. This class consists of six two-hour sessions, October through March, at the Colombiere Retreat Center, in the evening of the same day as the Holy Scripture classes. Participants learn about, discuss, and practice preaching, and they prepare and deliver sermons at the Academy and at their home congregation. The tuition for the Preaching Practicum is $200 per student. Additional costs include textbooks and mileage to and from the class site.

After successful completion of both the Holy Scripture and Homiletics classes, Safeguarding training and a background check are required. Following completion of all requirements, the diocesan office will issue a preaching license.

Visit the Saturday Series page for specific dates for the upcoming school year.

If you would like to talk about these classes, please contact the Rev. Dr. Valerie Fargo at or 989-708-7460.


ChurchNext is an online learning community offering hundreds of online courses for individuals and congregations in topics ranging from Spirituality to Church Management led by renowned mainline church leaders such as Rachel Held Evans and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

Congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Eastern Michigan have access to a subsidized subscription in order to utilize ChurchNext for continuing education, bible studies, small groups, and more. Your cost is $100 per year (less than a third of the standard cost).


To sign up, just email and let them know you’re an Eastern Michigan congregation.

They will invoice you directly for your subsidized $100 fee and get you set up with your ongoing account.

Contact Person

The Rev. Canon Michael Spencer
Canon to the Ordinary 

Location: 124 N. Fayette Street Saginaw, MI 48602 | Phone: (877) 752-6020
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