You might have heard some rumors about a seminarian cohort in the Diocese of Ohio. The nature and the makeup of this cohort is a little bit hard to explain, but the purpose is clear: to equip those on the path to priestly ordination with local diocesan relationships and formation. The best part of this cohort is that our paths are all distinctly unique and catered to our individual circumstances. This is no cookie-cutter formation!
The Diocese of Ohio has recognized that the traditional model of seminary education (three years at an out-of-town residential seminary) is not the only, or best, way for every person to prepare for ordination. At the same time, Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation designed a low-residency Master of Divinity (MDiv) program which launched in 2016. This degree program has attracted more and more students from around the country who want to stay in their local dioceses but receive an MDiv from an accredited seminary. Under Bishop Hollingsworth’s guidance, a number of postulants/applicants from the Diocese of Ohio agreed to ‘pioneer’ this program. We also expressed the desire for some kind of organized local group so we could have a local, relational community within the program. This, under the leadership of the Rev. Percy Grant, Canon for Ministry, became the cohort.
In addition to online or weekend-intensive classes at Bexley Seabury, the cohort meets about once a week together to do a variety of formational activities. This has included taking ‘field trips’ to see the work of other parishes, meeting with deacons and priests to learn about liturgy and vocation, joining with the newly ordained cohort to plan/practice worship services, and checking in with the bishops as a group.