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Iona collaborative is a program that has been in existence for over 20 years; developed by the Diocese of Texas to augment the clergy shortage for rural and small congregations and offer second clergy for parishes that may need two, but couldn’t afford the cost of financially funding a two-clergy staff.

As a diocese, we had begun the intentional work of conceiving an appropriate model for local clergy formation to complement the lay formation initiative pioneered by the Bishop’s Institute. This strategy was needed to reassure parishes that their ministry needs are being addressed by the diocese.

Several dioceses across the Episcopal Church recognized the quality of work administered by the Iona Collaborative in formation and transformation of lay people who discern a genuine call to serve the church in lay leadership or ordained leadership. In total over 30 dioceses are currently enrolled in the program, allowing the formation and training of leaders who have a call to ordained ministry but, due to other life commitments such as family needs, financial obligations and employment situations, may not be able to fulfill a full-time academic study program at a three-year residential seminary.

The Rev. Dr. John Lewis, Director of the Iona Center & Lecturer was invited to the 152nd Annual Diocesan Convention on March 7, 2020. He gave a very informative and engaging presentation on the pioneering and seminal work of the Iona Center in training lay people in ministry formation and forming lay people for bi-vocational ordained ministry – deacon and priest. The bishop, councils of the church and Commission on Ministry made a bold visionary decision to entrust the future of clergy formation in an area other than the traditional residential seminary track. The credibility, portability and virtual accessibility of the Iona Collaborative became a very attractive option. This gave birth to the Iona Eastern Shore Initiative and the Reverend Canon Dr. Daniel Dunlap, an academic theologian trained at Oxford University, United Kingdom, was appointed Dean of the Iona Eastern Shore.

On Saturday, June 15, 2024 the Diocese of Easton will be graduating eight (8) students who would have completed the program.

The diocese congratulates the following recipients:

  • The Reverend Deacon Stephanie Clayville (St. Mary the Virgin Parish, Pocomoke City)
  • The Reverend Deacon Christine Sabas (St. Andrew’s Parish, Princess Anne)
  • Joanne Fisher (All Faith Chapel, Tunis Mills)
  • Lynda Habel (St. Luke’s & St. Andrew’s Parish, Church Hill & Sudlersville)
  • Kelsey M. Spiker (Christ Church – St. Peter Parish, Easton)
  • Jessica Stehle (Trinity Cathedral, Easton)
  • Michael R. Valliant (Christ Church – St. Peter Parish, Easton)
  • The Reverend Dr. Lynn M. Wiljanen (St. Paul’s Parish, Marion Station, St. Mary the Virgin Parish, Pocomoke City and Pro-Cathedral, St. Peter’s Parish, Salisbury)

What is also noteworthy is that the program was funded exclusively by the diocese. We thank the faithful parishioners of the Diocese of Easton for their unselfishness, generosity and commitment to the furtherance of theological education and lay formation in the diocese.