Period of Discernment

Period of Discernment

Period of Discernment

A Period of Discernment helps you consider God's call for you for ministry and mission.

What is the Period of Discernment?

The Period of Discernment (PoD) is a structured process that helps you consider God’s call through a combination of reflection, prayer, conversation and learning. A PoD is Phase 1 of the 4 Phases of formation in the UCA Assembly standards for ministry.  

It combines formal study with pastoral guidance to help you enrich your relationship with God, recognise your skills and knowledge, and discern what kind of ministry you are being called to. 

You may discern you are called to ministry within your local community of faith or an agency of the church, within the wider community or your workplace. 

Alternatively, you may discern you are called to serve as a Youth Leader, Elder or Pastor Carer or in one of the specified ministries in the Uniting Church (Minister of Diaconate (Deacon), Minister of the Word, Ministry of Pastor or Lay Preacher). 

You will be guided by a supportive mentor as you undertake formal study, (including a study of the history and polity of the Uniting Church), get a taste for ministry through experience and you may even attend a discernment retreat. 

Throughout this process you will record your thoughts and reflections that will form a basis for discussion with your mentor and your final presentation to the Ministry Committee or Pastoral Relations committee in your Presbytery, where you will share what you have discerned. 

The length of the PoD is generally 12 months, however this can be shortened to recognise prior learning and ministry experience, or extended, if required. 

This is an exciting and important journey where you will be supported as you explore your call and gifts and how this can align with corresponding services in our church. 

Who can do a Period of Discernment?

The Period of Discernment is available to anyone who is in good standing in a congregation or faith community within the Uniting Church, regardless of academic background. To apply, you will need to speak with your local minister or church council, who can assist you in making contact with your Presbytery’s ministry oversight committee. People seeking to become a candidate for ministry as a Deacon or Minister of the Word are required to undertake the PoD and have been a confirmed member of the Uniting Church for 12 months prior to applying for candidature. 

Requirements of a Period of Discernment

  • You need a Presbytery appointed Mentor for your PoD, which will meet with you monthly.
  • Complete Living our Values (UCA Polity course, run by your Presbytery and/or Uniting Mission and Education)
  • Develop a learning and serving agreement with your mentor.
  • Engage in some theological, ministry and mission study, including but not limited to, Living our Faith (UME), United Theological Collage and CSU offerings as well as other courses offered by Uniting Mission and Education in substation with your mentor.2 subjects are encouraged during the 12 month period.
  • Develop a ministry practice portfolio, recording your reflections on the integration of ministry practice and learning during your PoD.
  • Complete the Ethical Ministry Foundations course (Uniting Mission and Education)
  • Attend or make space for a discernment retreat.
  • Write a 1000-word article for presentation at the conclusion of the PoD, reflecting on the journey of discernment for the Presbytery’s ministry, zone or Pastoral Relations Committee.

Vital Leadership Pathways are here to help, in offering education and learning pathway options, developing and resourcing PoD mentors and assisting in any way we can.  

Rev Ben Gilmour - Head of Vital Leadership Pathways
Rev Ben Gilmour - Head of Vital Leadership Pathways

Ben Heads up the Vital Leadership Pathways team at Uniting Mission and Education. He is a minister of the Word in the Uniting Church and has served in regional and inner-city congregations with distinction. He has pioneered and directed youth ministry programs, international mission ventures new faith communities, and solidarity networks of marginalized people across 20 years of ministry practice. He is passionate about encouraging lay and ordained leadership to flourish in their discipleship, ministry and mission. Ben is humble and wise, fun and a little goofy. He is always up for a chat, so feel free to reach out and say hi at: