Discernment

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Discernment involves figuring out where God may be calling you. It involves noticing your own movement toward and away from God. It involves learning about the ministry to which you may be called. It involves taking in the voices of others as you listen to your internal voice, and seeing where they match.

What is discernment?

Figuring out. Learning. Noticing. Taking in. Listening.

Discernment involves noticing movement toward God and away from God.

  • According to St Ignatius Loyola, signs of movement toward God include excitement, anticipation, gentleness, sense of God’s presence, and peacefulness.
  • Signs of movement away from God include agitation, anxiety, feeling abandoned, separation and isolation, and self-absorption.
  • If you find yourself moving toward AND away, be patient and keep discerning.
  • Discernment is different from decision-making. Discernment leads to decision-making, but also involves seeking God’s will in your life and work.

Education & Formation

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The LDA’s Education and Formation program is unique and open to people from any Lutheran church body. Through a combination of academic requirements, hands-on ministry experiences, student seminars, and spiritual development, our students are formed in their identity as ‘one who serves,’—all in the context of intentional Christian Community. Our Deaconess and Deacon Communities provide mentoring, support, prayer, and encouragement to students as they go through the program.

Frequently Asked Questions

Education and Formation takes at least two years. Because our students are varied in age, location, and career, some people take longer than two years. We like to say that formation is ‘not a race.’

No. While there ARE academic components to our program, the LDA uses a set of competencies which measure skills, values, and attitudes around ministry. Therefore, we are more concerned in the identity as a Deaconess/Deacon that our students develops than we are in academic achievement.

Our program is designed to equip people for ministry in whatever setting they choose. ‘Servant ministry’ means we serve wherever God calls us, and this is different for everyone. When a student completes the education/formation program, they are consecrated as an LDA Deaconess or Deacon, and welcomed into lifelong Community.

No. Our students live all over the United States, and sometimes internationally. The program is distance-based, so that students can be in formation without having to move. In addition, our program is geared for all types of service, both in the church and in secular society.

Students travel to Valparaiso, Indiana for one full week each year to attend student seminar. In addition, students travel to two Annual Meetings of the women’s or men’s diaconal community.

No. However, it is possible to go through a candidacy process with your church body at the same time you are in formation with the LDA—they do not conflict.

The LDA offers an abbreviated process for already-rostered Deacons who were formerly Associates in Ministry (or AIM’s,) who wish to deepen their call to ministry through lifelong intentional community. This process does not interfere with the ELCA’s roster, but gives the opportunity for ELCA Deacons to become a Deaconess or Deacon with the LDA as well.

To Apply, please email Valerie.webdell@valpo.edu, or call (219) 464-6925 and ask for either Valerie Webdell or Kristin Lewis.

The LDA offers an abbreviated process for already-rostered Deacons who were formerly Associates in Ministry (or AIM’s,) who wish to deepen their call to ministry through lifelong intentional community. This process does not interfere with the ELCA’s roster, but gives the opportunity for ELCA Deacons to become a Deaconess or Deacon with the LDA as well.

The LDA also offers a transfer process for ELCA Deacons who were formerly rostered as Diaconal Minsiters (DM’s.) This transfer process does not interfere with the ELCA’s roster.

Please contact the LDA at deacserv@valpo.edu or call (219) 464-6925 for more information about either process.

Click below for a more detailed description of the program

How to Apply

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Are you interested in applying? Would you like to find out more about ministry and community? We would love to talk with you.  Simply send an email to deacserv@valpo.edu, and we will contact you and help determine your next steps.

An application to become a student with the LDA requires four separate steps:

  1. Essays
  2. Letters of Recommendation
  3. Psychological Evaluation
  4. Background Check

While it can seem daunting, our Directors of Education and Formation help facilitate the application process from beginning to end, making it easy to gather all of the pieces.  Give us a call—God has work for us to do!