Synod 2022 - Saturday 15 October, Otorohanga - Register here!


Suddenly, Jesus was standing there among them! “Peace be with you,” he said. As he spoke, he held out his hands for them to see, and he showed them his side. They were filled with joy when they saw their Lord! He spoke to them again and said, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.” Then he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven. If you refuse to forgive them, they are unforgiven.”

John 20:19-23 (NLT)


In the Anglican tradition we recognise three orders:

  • Deacons
  • Priests
  • Bishops

The process of entry into these orders is called ordination. All ordained people begin their lives as deacons, some become priests, and a small few bishops. Although each order has different responsibilities they are cumulative. That means that a priest is also a deacon, and that a bishop is also a deacon and a priest.

Discernment Criteria

TPMC (Tikanga Pakeha Ministry Council - including representatives from across the New Zealand dioceses) agreed on some discernment criteria in 2015. Please read them to learn more about the kinds of qualities we are looking for in those who may be ordained.

1. Faith
Candidate shows an understanding of the Christian faith and a desire to deepen that understanding. Demonstrates a personal commitment to Christ and a mature, robust faith which shapes their life and work. Candidate shows an ability to reflect critically on their faith and make connections between faith and contemporary life. They demonstrate a capacity to communicate their faith engagingly and effectively.
2. Vocation:
Candidate is able to articulate a sense of vocation and call to ministry and reflect on the effect of this on their life. They are able to speak of the development of their inner conviction and the extent to which others have confirmed it. They show an understanding of what it means to be a deacon or a priest. Their sense of vocation is obedient (teachable/humble/responsive to God’s call to a life of sacrificial service), realistic and informed.
3. Spirituality:
Candidate demonstrates evidence of a commitment to a spiritual discipline, which involves individual and corporate prayer and worship, and daily Bible reading and reflection. Able to show how they discern God’s activity in their life, how their spiritual practice may have changed over time and how it is changing them. They are able to reflect on how engagement with the world and others both affects, and is affected by, their practice of prayer and engagement with Scripture. Their spiritual practice should be able to sustain and energise them in daily life and future ministry.
4. Personality and character: 
Candidate is sufficiently self-aware, mature and stable to show that they have the resilience required to sustain the demands of ministry. Able to demonstrate how they have faced change and pressure in a balanced and flexible way and how they manage stress. They should be seen to be people of integrity who can generate trust and display honesty. Able to speak of how they have coped with difficult life experiences, how they have reflected upon them and incorporated them within their life and understanding.
5. Relationships: 
Candidate shows the capacity to build and maintain healthy personal, professional, and pastoral relationships. They demonstrate an awareness of the need for, and ability to establish and sustain, appropriate boundaries between personal and professional life and within pastoral relationships. Able to manage conflict and show an ability to negotiate difficult relationships. Demonstrate good interpersonal skills, a willingness to learn from experience, and a commitment to building inclusive relationships within diversity. They show the potential to exercise effective pastoral care. 
6. Quality of mind and theological learning
Candidate is able to nurture the necessary intellectual capacity and quality of mind to fulfil the requirements of theological study and ministerial preparation and to cope with the intellectual demands of ministry. Demonstrates a desire to learn through the integration of academic study and reflection on experience and a commitment to this as a lifelong process of learning and formation. Exhibits flexibility of mind, openness to change and challenge, and the capacity to facilitate learning and theological reflection within the Church community.
7. Ministry Practice
Candidate understands the need for and demonstrates the potential to minister with creativity, risk taking and intentionality in today’s church, and the capacity to manage change.
Candidate shows an understanding of their own tradition within the Three Tikanga Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and Polynesia, an awareness of the diversity of culture, traditions and practice, and a commitment to learn from and work generously with difference. Able to speak of what it means to exercise public ministry that reflects our bicultural partnership and Three Tikanga Church context. They are able to reflect on changes in contemporary society and the implications of this for ministry and the Church.
8. Mission and evangelism
Candidate demonstrates a personal commitment to mission that is reflected in thought, prayer and action. They exhibit a wide and inclusive understanding of mission as articulated in the five marks of mission, and of the strategic issues and opportunities within contemporary culture.
Candidate is able to articulate the good news of the Kingdom appropriately in differing contexts and speak of Jesus Christ in a way that is credible, accessible, and attractive. They demonstrate the capacity to enable others to develop their vocations as witnesses of the good news, and the potential to be leaders in mission.
9. Leadership and collaboration
Candidate demonstrates an ability to offer leadership in the Church community and in the wider community as appropriate. This includes the capacity to offer an example of faith and discipleship which is inspiring to others and witnesses to the servanthood of Christ. They show a commitment to identifying and nurturing the gifts of others and the ability to collaborate effectively. Able to identify their own leadership style, and reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of this and of the different ways in which leadership may be exercised within the Church. They demonstrate an ability to be flexible and adaptable in leadership and to guide and shape the life of the Church community in its mission in the world.

TPMC Discernment Criteria, October 2015


A deacon is called to a ministry of service, social justice, advocacy and Gospel proclamation. In the earliest church, candidates "full of the Spirit and of wisdom" (Acts 6:3) were invited to distribute food and care for the needs of the community. All those selected were gathered before the apostles "who prayed and laid their hands on them" (Acts 6:6). Ever since, deacons have been strongly associated with pastoral care, the distribution of consecrated bread and wine, and intercessory prayer. Deeply embedded in this ministry are issues of justice, mercy and social action.In New Zealand we recognise two types of deacon: permanent and transitional (a transitional deacon ultimately feels called to the sacramental ministry of the priesthood.).To learn more about a deacon's ministry see the Ordination Service, and especially page 891 (A New Zealand Prayer Book).To explore the theology and ministry of the diaconate in more detail please see these videos.

Learn more about our focus on deacons here.


A priest is a deacon called to sacramental ministry. The Ordinal (service that ordains) describes the priest's priorities as follows:"Above all they are to proclaim God’s wordand take their part in Christ’s prophetic work,to declare forgiveness through Jesus Christ,to baptise,to preside at the Eucharist,to administer Christ’s holy sacraments."(Extract from A New Zealand Prayer Book, page 901)To learn more about a priest's ministry see the Ordination Service, and especially page 901 (A New Zealand Prayer Book).


if you feel called to ordained ministry the first thing you need to do is talk to your vicar. The vicar (a priest that a bishop has given a parish to) will be able to talk to you about what it means to be ordained and they will help you begin to understand what your future ministry might be. Subsequent to these initial discussions you may be invited to make contact with the Director of Vocations. This may lead to a more formal process of discernment which looks something like this:

  1. Parish discerns a candidate
  2. Candidate meets with Vicar to explore vocation
  3. Candidate receives support from Vestry and Vicar in the form of a minute at a Vestry meeting
  4. Initial interview with Director of Vocations
  5. Completion of forms and written work
  6. Meeting with Examining Chaplains
  7. Psychological Assessment
  8. Discernment weekend
  9. Formation plan/strategy
  10. Readiness for ordination interview

...and that takes anything from 12 months to 10 years ...


Individuals invited into the formation process will have a programme tailored to their vocation. However, there are a number of shared elements including regular engagement in the Diocesan Formation Group

Chaplain for Discernment and Ministry Formation

The Chaplain for Discernment and Ministry Formation is responsible for helping people explore the call God is making on their lives. Even if you are discerned for ordained ministry you can expect to wait 18 or more months before ordination. This time is a critical part of the process.  The Reverend Sue Burns is the Chaplain for Discernment and Ministry Formation.

The Revered Kat Maxwell (Bishop's Executive Chaplain) supports Sue and oversees the administrative part of the formation and discernment process. Kat is the first point of contact for people exploring ordination for our diocese.  For more information and to start talking, please contact Kat